Election tilts council’s balance of power

WINNSBORO – Voters sent a clear message to the Fairfield County Council Tuesday night as they turned out County Council Chairman Moses Bell (Dist.1) and long-time Councilman and Vice Chairman Mikel Trapp (Dist. 3), leaving council with a new majority vote.

Dan Ruff

Voters returned Dist. 5 representative Douglas Pauley and Dist. 7 representative Clarence Gilbert to their seats to each serve their second full terms.

The two had faced a fierce, months-long campaign from a few residents from the Center Creek and the Cedar Creek area who supported Pauley’s and Gilbert’s opponents, Kirk Chappell and Lisa Brandenburg, respectively, and Bell.

In Council Dist. 1, former Councilman Dan Ruff with 555 votes (48%) ousted Moses Bell with 381 votes (33 %) in a three way contest with political newcomer Kennedy (Kenny) Robertson who garnered 227 (20%). There were two write-in votes.

In Dist. 3, Peggy Swearingen with 583 votes (57%) won over Mikel Trapp who had 446 votes (43%). There were 7 write-ins.

In Dist. 5, incumbent Douglas Pauley won by the largest margin of all the county council candidates with 536 votes (59%) Kirk Chappell who had 379 votes (41%). There were 16 write-in votes.

In Dist. 7, incumbent Clarence Gilbert with 589 votes (57%) bested Lisa Brandenburg who had 442 votes (43%). There were 6 write-in votes.

At press time, neither Bell nor Trapp had responded to The Voice’s requests or comments. However, Bell made the following post on Facebook shortly after the election results were announced:

“I want to thank you all so much for your support and votes. We were able to accomplish much together in these 4 years…continue to be very proud of that record.  I will be talking more in next weeks and months.  The odds were against me and I was not able to bring it across the finish line.  I called Dan Ruff to congratulate him on his victory…I had to leave a message since he did not pick up.”

Pauley also thanked his supporters on Facebook for his win.

“Thank you for believing in me, thank you for voting for me, and thank you for allowing me to serve District 5 in our great county for four more years!,” Pauley wrote. “I will continue to work on improving Fairfield County to make it a great place to live, work, and visit!”

Gilbert said he already feels a new openness coming back to the Fairfield government.

“I’m truly grateful to my friends, family and supporters who voted for me in this election. And I pledge to serve with openness and dignity and to help this county and its people prosper. We can’t shut out the people. We can’t censor employees from talking to our councilmen. We can’t have a guard always on duty to be sure the citizens don’t find out what we’re doing,” Gilbert said. “Our business is the people’s business and we want them to be part of the discussion.”

Pauley and Gilbert had been at odds with Bell and his majority on council for the last two years over the issues of government openness and Bell’s spending priorities, among other issues.

Related: County election results are in

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