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Caledonia mayor’s race: Gerhart ousts incumbent


Jordan Novet



CALEDONIA -- Three hours of tallying votes reminded one onlooker of watching paint peel. But tension held the room in suspension. 


About 30 people sat in and just outside of a room in Caledonia''s town hall Tuesday night as they awaited a final tally of votes for mayor and aldermen. 


Ten people had qualified for the race for the five seats on the Board of Aldermen. And Mayor Bill Lawrence was running for another term, against challenger George Gerhart. 


Many of the candidates sat alone or with their spouses in a room in the town hall watching Emma Jane Wiggins, Caledonia''s election commissioner, as she called out their names as town residents'' votes were tallied. Some people kept count; all remained silent. 


The mayor hovered around the room, mostly keeping to himself. Now and then he looked over the shoulder of someone keeping count to see how he was doing. 


During a five-minute break, Lawrence was leading Gerhart by 19 votes. He could not describe what was on his mind. All he could say was, "I''m looking forward to it," referring to the final tally. 


After Wiggins counted affidavits, the final unofficial results had Gerhart remaining on top. The results were not official, she stressed, and she and the other commissioners would recount the votes in the morning. 


Steve Honnoll, having received more votes than did any other candidate for a seat on the five-member Board of Aldermen, was in shock. "I''m just glad that the folks of Caledonia put their confidence in me," he said. 


Incumbent Brenda Willis, who received the second highest amount according to the final unofficial tally, said she got the feeling she''d be re-elected midway through the tally. "I worked hard," she said. "I looked forward to getting there." 


And Mike Savage said he had plenty of work ahead of him. He has some things in mind for the town of Caledonia. "Expanding the park, (building a) community center," he said. "... I''d love to have a bank here. And a pharmacy." 


But the man who appeared to have won the mayoral election, outseating incumbent Lawrence, was nowhere to be found. 


"I was sleeping," he explained when he finally came to town hall, after receiving a constant stream of phone calls. He had been at home, sleeping through the tally, he said, after he''d pulled a muscle while putting up campaign signs during the day. 


"I''m humbled by the confidence of the vote given to me by the people of Caledonia," said Gerhart, 66. 


Along with Honnoll and Willis, incumbent and Vice Mayor Bill Darnell, Mike Savage and Quinn Parham were elected to serve a term on the Board of Aldermen.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Kimberly commented at 6/3/2009 3:54:00 PM:

So glad to see Lawrence go. He is not a man of his word & Caledonia needs someone who is. I truely believe that Mr. George will do what is needed for EVERYONE in Caledonia & not just the brown nosers. I am very proud of my fellow townspeople for realizing that it was time for a change & I look forward to seeing Mr. George improve our wonderful town and I would love to be able to help whenever I can.


Article Comment BB commented at 6/3/2009 5:14:00 PM:

I second her comments, I believe that the Town of Caledonia will be MUCH better off with Gerhart in office. Congrats!!!!!!!!!


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