The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Election 2012

November 8, 2011

Kevin Smith back as Anderson mayor

Republican avenges '07 loss to Ockomon

ANDERSON, Ind. — Four years after citizens chose not to re-elect Kevin Smith, they changed their minds.

Smith, who was the Republican mayor from 2004 to 2007, was elected on Tuesday to retake office next year. He had sought re-election in 2007 but lost to Democratic challenger Kris Ockomon. The pair went head to head again on Tuesday, and this time Smith won.

Ockomon received 5,626 votes. Smith received 6,030. Another challenger, Libertarian Rob Jozwiak, who also ran four years ago, received 1,846.

“I want to thank the citizens who said, ‘We believe Anderson, Indiana, can have a brighter future,’” a smiling Smith said during his acceptance speech to more than 200 people at the Paramount Theatre.

Ockomon gathered with supporters at the Democratic Headquarters to hear the results. When all but three precincts had reported their results, showing Smith was ahead, Ockomon shook his head. His wife patted his back in support. Those who crowded the room groaned.

“It’s not looking good,” said Ockomon, who looked crestfallen. “It would be a miracle at this point.”

Ockomon said he was disappointed about the loss and felt that mudslinging from Smith’s campaign hurt him. Voters who were persuaded by the negative campaign likely crossed over to Jozwiak’s camp, he said.

“He (Jozwiak) was a factor in this,” Ockomon said. “He took away votes.”

After victory was declared, Ockomon couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jozwiak said he wished the new mayor the best.

“I wish Kevin the best of luck until he doesn’t follow through on what he said,” Jozwiak said. “He better not sell any city services. And he said he would get rid of the trash fee. Let’s see if he does that.”

There was bad blood between Ockomon and Smith for the past four years. Shortly after Ockomon took the oath of office in 2008, Smith joined in a lawsuit that challenged the new mayor’s residency.

Smith said his administration will inspire favorable news reports rather than bad news reports. During his campaign, Smith sent out fliers blasting Ockomon and accusing him of making the city look bad by inciting lawsuits and allegedly hiring his family and friends.

“Honesty in city government has to do with everything,” Smith said.

Although Smith doesn’t take office until the first of the year, he said work on Anderson’s future will begin right away.

“We ask for your thoughts and prayers and inputs,” he said, then turned his attention to the 7-2 Democratic majority on city council. “I really hope from the bottom of my heart that as a city, the mayor’s office can work with the new city council.”

Smith said he looks forward to solving the city’s problems without dipping into taxpayers’ pockets. And he plans to bring in companies and jobs from around the world.

“We will beautify the city,” he said. “We will sweep the streets every year. We will pave streets every year. We will adopt new technology. We will make Anderson a name for new businesses, and we will be very aggressive.”

Those statements drew applause from the crowd.

Several of those plans resonated with Brad and Sharon Land, who campaigned for Smith.

“I am so excited for him to get back to work on the trail system and to get things done the right way,” Brad Land said after Smith’s speech.

His wife said that she agrees with Smith’s goals to beautify the city and to bring better technology to the area.

“The city is set up to take off,” Brad Land added. “We want him to pull the pieces together. With the casino, the race track, the Speedway, and I-69, we are in a great position to do great things. We just need a leader to get us there.”

Contact Melanie Hayes: 648-4250, melanie.hayes@heraldbulletin.com

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