|Shields, Stevenson voted to city council
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · November 08, 2013
Voters decided Tuesday that Timothy Shields will replace Jim Oaks and Mary Beth Stevenson will retain her seat — after a six-week break — on the West Branch City Council.
The two won a five-person race for two four-year terms on the council.
Running unopposed and winning easily for a two-year term was Brian Pierce, rounding out the three open seats on the city council.
Also running unopposed, for mayor, was Mark Worrell, who has now been elected to a seat he had been appointed to in March. Worrell’s appointment follows the death of former mayor Don Kessler in February.
Results with vote totals and percentage of voter support: 1. Timothy Shields 208 (29.89 percent); 2. Mary Beth Stevenson 196 (28.16 percent); 3. Cory Kessler 121 (17.39 percent); 4. Dick Stoolman 86 (12.36 percent); 5. Jim Oaks 79 (11.35 percent).
Some 22.7 percent of eligible voters — 362 of 1,598 — turned out for the election.
Worrell received 243 votes (83.22 percent) and there were 49 write-in candidates. Pierce received 283 votes (93.09 percent) and there were 21 write-in candidates.
“I am completely, 100 percent excited,” Shields, a 35-year-old father of two, said Tuesday night. “I am thrilled for the opportunity to better the community and to bring a little youth into an already positive community.”
Stevenson said she is “really excited” to win election to the council.
“I’m very happy to have gotten support from the voters,” she said. “I look forward to serving and to help West Branch grow in a positive way.”
While the Cedar County Auditor’s Office lists Oaks and Stevenson as incumbents because they are both finishing terms that normally would have ended this year, Stevenson was appointed in May to fill a seat opened up when Dan O’Neil resigned. Stoolman, too, was appointed, filling the council seat in April that opened up when Worrell was appointed mayor.
Because Oaks was actually put in place by voters, he will be allowed to finish his term, which runs through the end of the year.
Stevenson, as an appointee, was required to give up her seat to the top vote-getter, unless that had been her.
Since Shields earned the most votes in the election, he will be seated at the next City Council meeting, actually bumping Stevenson temporarily from the council. Stevenson will return in January after Oaks finishes his term.
Both Shields and Stevenson said voters tell them they want to see the city grow, albeit carefully, and to have the city and school find new ways to work together.
“I feel really good about West Branch’s financial situation,” Stevenson said, even with expected state cuts.
She said voters told her “loud and clear” they want to invest in a bigger library and a community center.
Shields said he wants to encourage more young families to move to the city.
“I don’t want to come in here guns a-blazin,’” he said. “But a community center and the parks department are a priority for me since I served on that board for a number of years.”
He said he would like to establish some commissions to gather more input from residents, rather than have just five council members making decisions.
Stevenson said having to step away from the council table for a month and a half seems “odd,” but also “fair.”
She plans to keep attending council meetings, though sitting in the gallery, and said she asked the city administrator to keep her on e-mail lists for council packets and updates.
“Being appointed was an honor,” she said of how she got on the council. “I’m OK with stepping away, and I look forward to building a rapport with new council members.”
Shields said winning the council election “is very surreal for me.”
“I’m completely honored,” he said.