Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — As the results trickled in at The Pillars in Albion on Tuesday night, several legislative incumbents and a pair of newcomers watched as their vote totals eclipsed those of their challengers.
To some of the incumbents, the results spoke volumes about the people of Orleans County.
“I’m glad the voters decided there was more than just one issue,” said Lynne Johnson, a Republican from District 2. “I’m looking forward to serving the county for another two years.”
District 1’s Bill Eick agreed.
“The results show that the public understands that the nursing home is not the only issue in county government,” he said.
Fellow incumbent Don Allport kept his seat, and Legislative Chairman Dave Callard ran unopposed to keep his spot.
Callard said the results will allow the county to continue working for the people. He said the vote told him the county was indeed doing the people’s work.
“This vote was a referendum,” he said. “The people understood that there are issues we are working on, and that you can’t focus on just one issue.”
Callard said he viewed the results as a show of support by the county’s residents to keep moving the county forward with a “multi-year plan” and vision for the future. He added that he understood the emotional aspect of the nursing home issue, and was impressed to see voters put emotion aside for the good of the county.
Newcomers Ken DeRoller, in the 4th District and John DeFilipps, At-Large East, said the experience of running a campaign and winning was a thrill.
DeRoller (R, I) said he looked forward to working for “Team Orleans” and was happy to be put in a position to work for the people.
DeFilipps (R, I) said the responsibility of being a legislator is one he looked forward to undertaking with great aplomb.
“People have worries and concerns,” he said. “They want more from their government, and I want to help.”
As the Democrats congregated at Pullman Church in Albion, the mood quickly went from one of excitement to one of disappointment and frustration. Although many supporters at the site predicted “one seat for us, two a the most,” there was an initial sense of hope that the party’s campaign efforts might be enough to cause a political shift in the traditionally Republican territory.
The nursing home was the hot-button topic throughout the night, and quickly after the pro-Republican results filed in, several party leaders made impromptu speeches to thank everyone for their support and urge for continued action.
“I’m really excited about the group we brought together to fight the fight,” said Gary Kent, who lost to Allport in the race for Legislator-at-Large (central), 3,419-2,917. “I refuse to believe that these results are a true reflection of where the county is coming from. It will be nice to keep this group together and try to do positive things with it.”
Emil Smith, who fell to Eick in District 1, was happy that he was able to secure 518 votes as a first-time candidate and promised that the county would not be seeing the last of him.
“This was a dry run, a learning experience,” Smith said. “The message is out there, and I think it will be a lot different the next time around.”
Fellow newcomer Dave Schult, who lost to DeRoller in District 4, echoed the sentiment.
“As a new guy trying to get in, I drew inspiration from this group,” Schult said. “The effort everyone put in was immeasurable, and I think it says a lot about our hearts.”