Kaye and Tony Mellencamp on Election Night. (Photo by J Swygart)
The Daily Democrat is taking its annual look at the year's top stories, as chosen by employees of the newspaper. This year, we've decided to stretch out the usual Top 10 to a Top 12 — or 12 in '12.
The political elections of 2012 were unique on several fronts — from a crowded primary field in May to the first-ever voter-selected representatives to the North Adams school board in November — and were voted by employees of the Daily Democrat as the year's No. 6 news story.
With a number of countywide officials forced to leave office at the end of 2012 due to state-imposed term limits, and other incumbents simply not seeking re-election, candidates aplenty tossed their hats in the ring for Adams County Council seats, as well as the county auditor, treasurer and recorder positions. County Republicans ultimately would claim victories in all countywide offices.
One of the feel-good stories of the election season included a pair of victories by Berne businessman Tony Mellencamp.
Mellencamp won a Republican nomination in May for one of three at-large seats on the Adams County Council. His victory celebration was muted, however, after his wife Kaye was rushed to the hospital that day with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Her chances of survival initially were set at 1 in 10.
Kaye Mellencamp was at her husband's side in November as Tony topped a six-candidate field and helped usher a Republican sweep of three at-large county council seats up for grabs in this year's general election balloting.
The November GOP landslide included a stunning upset when first-time candidate Chad Kuklehan cruised to a 600-plus vote victory over incumbent Democrat Frederick Schurger for the seat as judge of the Adams Circuit Court.
Kuklehan, a practicing attorney in the county for the last 10 years, out-polled Schurger by a 6,744-6,116 margin. Both candidates had maintained a high profile throughout the campaign with extensive advertising and yard signs.
Schurger was first appointed as judge of the local circuit court by former Gov. Frank O'Bannon in 1999. He was elected in 2000 and 2006.
Also in November, residents of the North Adams school district had their first opportunity to cast ballots for school board seats. Ten candidates sought four seats on the board as part of a plan crafted by local citizens and approved by both the local school board and state education department last year.
One provision of that plan called for the expansion of the board from its current five-member makeup to a seven-member board beginning in 2013.