With a one-vote difference, city council race still up in the air

November 9, 2018

One contested Norfolk city council race was won by a large margin while another was as close as it could possibly be.

Unofficial election results as of Wednesday morning showed that Jarad Dahlkoetter prevailed by one vote over Fred Wiebelhaus for a Ward 4 seat on the city council — 580 votes to 579.

In a race so close, a recount and absentee ballots could ultimately change the outcome in the coming days. Madison County election representatives said they expect to have official totals by Friday in the race.

Dahlkoetter, who was appointed to the council seat earlier this year by Mayor Josh Moenning, finished in second in the May primary to Wiebelhaus.

Wiebelhaus said he did not have much of an immediate reaction to the unofficial results as of Wednesday morning.

But regardless of the final outcome, Wiebelhaus said he was pleased with the high voter turnout, and that it was good that so many people in the fourth ward were able to have input.

“It’s part of what makes America great, to see this kind of turnout,” Wiebelhaus said.

Overall, he said, talking to voters and being able to get to know people in the fourth ward has been a good experience.

Dahlkoetter said he thinks voters had a choice between two good candidates, and that Wiebelhaus ran a good campaign.

Dahlkoetter said he thinks the election turned out close because he and Wiebelhaus have some distinct differences in their priorities for Norfolk and voters were able to determine what they wanted.

“This election showed how important voting is, and that every votes counts, especially in local elections,” Dahlkoetter said.

Dahlkoetter also said he has been grateful to represent the ward, even in his relatively brief time on the council.

“I’m just grateful for this opportunity and I thank the voters for the faith they have in me,” Dahlkoetter said.

For the race for a Ward 2 seat, former councilman Shane Clausen won by nearly 1,000 votes, defeating Bill Hattery, 1,577 to 591 votes.

Clausen has secured his third term as a city councilman, but it’s his first as a representative of Ward 2. He served in Ward 4 from 2010 until earlier this year, resigning after moving out of the ward.

Clausen said he is humbled by the results and wants to continue to be a practical voice on the council.

“It’s easy to not be practical, as you start seeing things from the city government perspective,” Clausen said. “But it can be a burden on people, so I want to be a practical representative.”

Clausen said the priority for the council going forward is to grow and retain Norfolk’s population, and that the current council has done a good job staying focused on that objective.

“If we start moving backward, it is going to be very difficult to move forward again,” he said.

He also gave credit to Hattery, his opponent, saying that Hattery had good ideas and showed that he clearly cared about the community.

Hattery said that he did as much as he could to reach people and try to win over voters, but ultimately the voters made their choice.

“Mr. Clausen is a good candidate, and people voted for what they wanted and they got what they wanted — that’s how the system is supposed to work,” Hattery said. “That’s a good thing about being an American.”

Hattery said he thought name recognition and Clausen’s roots as a native Norfolkan helped put him over the edge.

Clausen also acknowledged that his record and name recognition played a role in the election.

Hattery said he would consider running for office again, saying that he is trying to set a good example to his family and the public by being involved in politics.

“I think I will get my opportunity some day to show the public what I can do for them,” Hattery said.

Hattery said he was happy with the way both candidates campaigned, saying he had no negative feeling about Clausen or the process, though he said he wished there were more public forums and other opportunities for voters to learn about candidates in a public setting.

Two other council races were uncontested, serving to re-elect Corey Granquist in Ward 1 and Rob Merrill in Ward 3.

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