SHELDON—Wayne Barahona won his second election since May after his landslide victory over Fred Grein on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Sheldon’s incumbent at-large city councilman captured more than 70 percent of the vote and tallied 677 votes to his opponents 236 votes, according to unofficial results from the O’Brien and Sioux count auditor offices.
“It was something that I was nervous about, of course, but now I’m excited that this part is over — my least favorite part of politics — but excited I get a few more years to impose some needed change here in our fair city,” Barahona said.
Barahona first dipped his toe into Sheldon’s political waters when he submitted an application to be appointed mayor in March following the resignation longtime position holder Tricia Meendering.
Grein, Barahona’s Nov. 5 opponent, also applied for the post as did Bob Engel and current Sheldon mayor and former at-large councilman Greg Geels.
The council appointed Geels to fill the remainder of Meendering’s term, but residents triggered a special mayoral election which also included the remaining months of Geels’ council term.
During the May 21 special election, Geels was successfully voted into office — he defeated Grein — as was Barahona who captured 50 percent of the vote in a four-man race with Wayne Burnette, Rick Nordahl and Kerwin Sterler.
Barahona said his trial run as a councilman was eye-opening.
“I was amazed at how much I thought I knew and then found I did not know on the job and learned quickly,” he said.
“And there were times there — as you know — some of those meetings got a little hot and I thought, ‘Why am I signed up to do this voluntarily?’ But, all in all, I can see the direction we are going and I’m excited about it and want to see it continue moving forward.”
Grein said he had no problem with the results of the race or Barahona. He said he did not try that hard in the race and just wanted to make sure there was another name on the ballot.
“You can’t have an election with just one person,” Grein said.
The other contested city council race on the ballot saw Pete Hamill successfully earn his second term. Hamill was challenged by Sterler for the Ward 1 seat.
The incumbent earned 252 votes compared to his opponents 201 votes, giving him a nearly 55 percent of the vote. There also were six write-in votes in this race.
“You always think you should win by more than you do, but 10 percent is certainly a vote of confidence and I’ll continue to do what I think is best for the town of Sheldon,” Hamill said.
Sterler was disappointed by his defeat and thinks he should have come out stronger during the Oct. 22 forum for contested Sheldon City Council candidates.
In particular, Sterler regrets not challenging Hamill more on his views of Crossroads Pavilion event center.
“When someone comes out telling you the event center is a home run and it’s only losing $100,000 — when in reality it’s losing something closer to $300,000 a year, according to the numbers Terry Braaksma and Marv (Van Riesen) have given me,” Sterler said. “Anybody that calls that a home run obviously used to be a car salesman; excuse the pun but that’s the truth.”
Although he lost, Sterler said he is satisfied that almost 45 percent of voters agree with him that changes need to be made on the council and he plans on remaining actively involved with the city government as a citizen.
Brad Hindt retained his spotless election record in Ward 3. Facing no challenger, Hindt was elected to his fourth term on the city council with 177 votes.
“I had good support from my residents and I had good support from people encouraging me to run,” Hindt said. “I wanted to give somebody else the opportunity to turn in papers so I waited until the last deadline.”
When no one else stepped forward, Hindt — who contemplated getting out of city politics — decided to give it another go around.
However, he was glad to see voters had options up and down the ballot and made their decisions on who they want to represent them known.
“The citizens have made their choice; let us do our job what we are elected for and let us move forward,” Hindt said.
One thing he would like to see with future council meetings is more productive discussions with the public.
“We need to get the negativity out of it and move the city forward,” Hindt said. “We just got to do what’s best for the community. We have to leave it better than we found it.
“I had one former councilman tell me that and that’s also been my life motto: ‘Leave it better than we found it.’”
The vote count is unofficial until canvassed by the O’Brien County and Sioux County boards of supervisors. A change in state voting law resulted in changes to where residents vote and which counties handle those elections and canvassing.
Previously, O’Brien County handled all of the city votes; now it is split since part of Sheldon sits in Sioux County.
The O’Brien County supervisors will hold two canvasses, one today (Wednesday, Nov. 13) and another Monday, Nov. 18.
The Sioux County supervisors also will hold two canvasses, one Wednesday, Nov. 13, and another Tuesday, Nov. 19.