Tuesday evening was particularly bittersweet for one victorious candidate in the Republican race for a seat on the Adams County Council.
Tony Mellencamp of Berne topped a five-member field in Tuesday's primary election balloting, securing his party's nomination for one of three at-large seats. When the results were announced, however, Mellencamp's wife Kaye was lying in serious condition in a Fort Wayne hospital bed after having been rushed there Tuesday morning when she reportedly suffered a brain aneurism.
"Tony's situation puts everything into perspective," said Adams County GOP Party Chairman Rob Noetzel. "That is way, way more important than any votes counted. All our prayers are with him tonight."
With three at-large seats on the line, Mellencamp captured 2,573 votes to lead the GOP hopefuls. Also securing spots in the November general election were two incumbents — Dennis Bluhm with 2,571 votes and Randy Colclasure with 2,235. Others receiving votes were Pat Norton with 1,946 and Noetzel with 1,376.
"I just want to thank the voters for their support," said Bluhm, who is completing his first four-year term on the council. "I hope to live up to their expectations. And thanks also to the Good Lord."
Colclausure, speaking from a Chicago airport, will return in the general election to seek his fourth term on council. "I don't know any of the details, except that I finished in the top three," he laughed. "I just want to thank everyone for their support, and I promise to do my best, win or lose in the fall." Colclausure also complimented the other four candidates "for the good, clean campaigns they ran."
Mellencamp, who currently serves as a member of the South Adams School's board of education, was unavailable for comment.
Longtime GOP county councilman Kenyon Sprunger will wrap up his tenure on the council at the end of the year and did not see re-election.
On the Democrat side of the county council ballot, former Adams County Assessor Judy Affolder and former Berne Mayor John Minch and political newcomer Dennis Hain topped the four-member field and earned spots on the fall ballot. Robert Thomas finished fourth.
The final breakdown of votes for the Democrat county council candidates was: Affolder, 822; Minch, 728; Hain, 458; and Thomas, 427.
In a rematch of a 2008 contest in which the roles were reversed, incumbent District 1 County Commissioner Kim Fruechte, a Republican, turned back an inter-party challenge from former commissioner Steve Baumann. Fruechte captured 2,275 votes during Tuesday's primary balloting to 1,835 for Baumann.
Fruechte won his first term four years earlier by defeating Baumann, who at the time was the incumbent.
In the District 3 County Commission race, incumbent Republican Doug Bauman was unopposed and collected 3,618 votes.
No Democrat filed as a candidate for either commission seat.