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05-07-03: Republicans pick LaRue as candidate for mayor
The Daily Standard
    As the primary election polls closed Tuesday night and the preliminary counts flowed into the Mercer County Courthouse lobby, voters clearly told Mayor Paul Arnold it is time for a change.
    Challenger Sharon LaRue defeated Arnold in the Republican primary, 1,067 votes to 672, or 61.3 percent to 38.64 percent. LaRue held the lead in each of the 10 voting precincts within the city limits of Celina. She now faces Democrat Ron Hammons, 58, in the November election for the mayor's seat.
    The margin of defeat came as a surprise to both candidates.
   "It's kind of an eye opener. After a few kind of close elections ... this one kind of blew me away," Arnold, 71, said this morning, speaking of his narrow win in 1999 to take office and a narrow loss for a commissioner seat several years ago.
   "I'm surprised that the margin was so big," LaRue, 61, said in the courthouse Tuesday night. "I have a lot of emotion. I'm thankful, I'm happy, I'm elated, I'm tired."
    Arnold this morning said he is disappointed at the money that needs to be spent on elections.
    "Money wins over logic nearly every time," Arnold said. "Sharon ran a good campaign, but financially I couldn't run the campaign she did."
    In Celina's 10 precincts, voter turnout was 50.2 percent Tuesday. Turnout was 51 percent for all 22 precincts involved in the Celina City Schools levy issues.
    Mercer County Elections Director Toni Slusser said the overall   turnout again may be the highest in the state, as it was in the last four elections. Typically Mercer County sees 37 to 40 percent turnout for primaries, while many other counties don't get 20 percent, she said.
    Many voters went to the polls Tuesday and joined the Republican party, results show, which could have had a major influence on the outcome. The Republicans gained 247 people who were previously either registered Democrat or independent.
    In some precincts, the margin of new Republicans is greater than LaRue's margin of defeat over Arnold. In Celina's "C" precinct alone, 37 more people chose the Republican ticket, while LaRue defeated Arnold by eight votes in that precinct.
    "No matter how hard we all worked on this, it was the voters that went to the polls that won this race," LaRue said. "It took their trust in me, their confidence in me to be a good nominee.
    Right now I'll keep doing my job on council, doing what I've been doing, asking a lot of questions and searching for answers," LaRue continued.
    LaRue's seat on council expires at the end of the year, along with two other at-large seats currently held by Bob Nuding and Collin Bryan. In November, Celina voters will choose to fill the three seats from the five candidates that met the filing deadline: Republicans Collin Bryan, Angie King or Jeffrey Hazel; Democrat Calvin "June" Scott; or independent Ed Jefferies.
    After the defeat set in overnight, Arnold said he realized it's for the best.
    "When I went to walk out the door this morning, my wife called to me and said 'I won'," Arnold said, adding that she was beginning to see the office taking a toll on him.
    "It has been great," Arnold said. "I enjoyed the five years I had in retirement, and I've enjoyed the three years in this office."
    Arnold said he wants to make the most of his time left in the office he now holds.
    "For the remainder of the year we'll be working on as many things as we can," Arnold said, pointing out the new Wal-Mart development, renovating the former Mersman building and securing boardwalk funds for West Bank Road.
    For LaRue, it's a tough road ahead, she said, with November right around the corner.
    "I'm not the new mayor yet, we still have to go through November," LaRue said.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822