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Columbia City

Columbia City: GOP wins mayor’s job, sweeps council


Republican Ryan Daniel wrested control of the Columbia City mayor’s office from Democrats Tuesday night, earning 65 percent of the vote in the municipal election.

With all precincts reporting, he received 1,162 votes, according to unofficial results.

Democrat Cathy Heritier came in second with 497 votes and 28 percent of the vote; and Libertarian Scott Wise received 115 votes.

“I’m very thankful to the voters for giving me the opportunity for four years of new leadership,” Daniel said. “Overall this election was a very clean one.”

Democratic Mayor Jim Fleck did not seek re-election.

Daniel, 27, is a customer service representative at STAR Financial Bank. He said he is the second-youngest mayor in Columbia City’s history.

And his priority on his first day in office will be to “aggressively recruit more jobs to the area and tighten up our budget so we are as fiscally sound as possible.”

Daniel previously worked with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and has interned with Mike Pence for Congress, Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Columbia City mayor’s office.

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Heritier, 40, has owned Bravo Baskets and Gifts for the past 13 years and this was her first foray into elected politics.

Wise, 44, served on the Columbia City Council from 2002 to 2006. He has run in the past as both a Libertarian and a Republican.

Turnout in Whitley County was 31.8 percent.

Council races

Republicans swept the five Columbia City Council races, though one tally was close enough that a recount is possible.

Incumbent Republican Daniel Weigold prevailed as the city’s at-large council member with 1,326 votes to 417 for Democrat Mike Malcolm.

Weigold, 49, who has served four years on both the council and the plan commission, is employed by Whitley County as the county GIS coordinator.

Malcolm, 51, served on the Columbia City Parks and Recreation Board and is a science instructor at Wawasee Community School Corp.

In the northeast district, Republican Jacie Worrick earned almost 64 percent of the vote, with Democrat Charles “Chick” Harker at 36 percent.

Worrick, 66, has logged 22 years in business and is co-owner of J&J Insurance in Columbia City.

Harker, 78, has been the owner and operator of Harker Insurance Agency since 1957.

The margin of victory in the northwest district was just two votes in favor of Republican William Simpson, who received 208 votes. Democrat Scott Allison received 206 votes.

Simpson, 47, has been employed by the Columbia City Police Department for 20 years and before that, worked for the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department.

Allison, 40, is a pressroom supervisor at Specialized Print Products, which he says sets him apart from the other candidates.

In the southeast district, incumbent Republican Nicole Penrod earned 63 percent of the vote while Democrat Christian Hockemeyer received almost 37 percent.

Penrod, 55, is finishing her first term of four years on the council and said she would like to continue the work that the council has initiated. Penrod has been employed at the offices of Dr. James McConnell for 23 years.

Hockemeyer, 30, is a construction worker and brick mason.

The final Republican to win a council seat was Ben Romine in the southwest district. He received 248 votes, or 51 percent, compared to 235 votes for Democrat incumbent Roger Seymoure.

Seymoure, 67, had served on the council since 2008. Before retiring, Seymoure was employed for more than 25 years at Verizon, where he worked as a revenue accounting manager.

Romine, 35, said it was time for his generation to step up and get involved, and he believes he can offer a fresh perspective. An accountant at the Romine Group, he has never held a political office.