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Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Celina will get new mayor
CELINA - The city will have a new leader next year as incumbent mayor Sharon LaRue lost the Republican primary Tuesday night.
Winning the primary and facing off in November will be Republican Jeff Hazel and Democrat Craig Klopfleisch. Also, this week, Ron Hammons filed as an independent, but his petition has not been validated.
Hazel captured 828 votes Tuesday - 67.92 percent of the total vote - compared to LaRue's 391 votes. Klopfleisch took in 396 votes - 72.5 percent of the total - to the 150 tallied by his opponent, Jess King.
LaRue said she was a bit baffled and disappointed with the results.
"I still have seven months to work, and I will do my best in those seven months," she said Tuesday night.
LaRue, who became mayor in 2004, said she is very proud of her years of service to the city. She said she will be able to spend more time with her grandchildren after her term is done.
The winning candidates said the people of the city used the election as a way to "speak" of their discontent.
"I'm very pleased with how the election turned out," Hazel said this morning, adding that he's looking forward to the November election. "I really think that the voters did speak last night."
Klopfleisch also was pleased.
He thanked everyone who came and supported him at the polls, adding it was a good turnout for an off-year primary election. Klopfleisch said the people have spoken, and he hopes to continue the support into November.
Hazel has said his primary concern is city finances, pointing out he is conservative, methodical and practical.
Klopfleisch has said he is concerned about public safety, adding it must be constantly monitored, whether it's the police or fire departments or the streets and caving-in storm sewers. He also believes the city needs a strategic plan.
The three possible candidates are familiar faces within the city - Hazel, a former city safety service director; Klopfleisch, a former mayor; and Hammons, a former city council member.
According to board of elections member Toni Slusser, 597 ballots were cast in the Democratic primary and 1,271 ballots were cast in the Republican primary. Overall, 28 percent of registered voters in the city cast a ballot Tuesday.
Hammons initially submitted a petition to appear on the Democratic primary but a lack of valid signatures prevented that from happening. Board of elections members will meet later this month to verify his petition to run as an independent in November.
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