Friday, November 7, 2008

Bellevue returns incumbents to council

Mahoney, Eaton, Koch all re-elected

Express Staff Writer

Tammy Eaton, Shawn Mahoney, Chris Koch

Bellevue voters chose to re-elect three incumbent City Council members Tuesday, leaving City Clerk Dee Barton counting ballots until nearly midnight.

"It was a long night," said Barton, who counted 523 ballots cast by 48 percent of registered Bellevue voters.

Only 18 percent turned out for the November 2007 election. An election in April of that year yielded only 67 voters to fill three open City Council seats. That's a voter turnout of only 6.57 percent.

Councilman Shaun Mahoney won re-election with 421 votes, the most of any candidate. Tammy Eaton and Chris Koch were also returned to office, earning 348 and 317 votes, respectively.

Challenger Brett Gelskey fell short in his bid for one of the three open seats on the council, with 270 votes.

Eaton, an eight-year veteran councilwoman, said Wednesday morning she was "very proud" of the big turnout.

"It's an indication of how the community is moving forward together," she said.

Mahoney said he looks forward to working with his colleagues in the months to come.

"We have the same crew and we are going to be going after the same projects, the city sewer treatment plant, which is underway now, the water issues and city street repairs. We also have Strayhorn annexation coming up soon."

Mahoney said revitalizing the city's downtown business core will be a priority.

Koch also is looking to bring new businesses to the city.

"We are the last stop on the way to Magic reservoir and Silver Creek," he said. "We also have a well-maintained walking and biking trail from one end of town to the other. Perhaps we can attract a sporting goods outfitter or hiking and biking shop."

One big issue likely to confront city leaders soon is the method of paying for the newly consolidated E-911 emergency dispatch service. A countywide ballot initiative that would have provided long-term funding for the service by raising property taxes failed to gather enough votes Tuesday.

"I understand that a mediation was called for by Sun Valley to settle this," Mahoney said. "Bellevue will be involved in the mediation. To what degree, we are just not sure yet. This could be a passionate issue."

Council members serve two-year terms. Steve Fairbrother, Larry Plott and Gene Ramsey are already on the six-person council.

Mayor Jon Anderson, running unopposed for re-election, was returned to office with 461 votes.

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