Before the polls had even closed Tuesday, Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine had good reason to believe it would be a very good night for his party.
It was. The GOP swept every race for county government office, including commissioner, as in incumbent Nelson Peters easily won a third term against retired city firefighter Gordon Anthony. With 83 percent of precincts reporting, Peters had 61,512 votes, or 63 percent, to Anthony’s 36,365 votes, or 37 percent.
Shine saw that and other Republican victories coming days in advance. Of the roughly 33,000 absentee and early votes cast countywide, he said, Republican turnout was estimated to have increased 10 percent compared to four years ago – and the Democrat turnout dropped 7 percent.
“And the Democrats tried to put on their best show in years,” Peters said, referring to the party contesting not only his race but also County Council and County Treasurer – all of which remained in Republican hands.
Peters said his success at the polls was driven in part by successful efforts to boost the economy and local infrastructure. Allen County has been recognized nationally as a leader in economic development and the opening of the $30 million Maplecrest Road extension – “$15 million under budget and two months ahead of schedule” – should help that trend continue, he said.
“But we have a long way to go. We’re still about 6,500 jobs behind full employment,” he added. Efforts to cut red tape and prepare industrial sites for fast development are underway, and the county is working more closely with surrounding counties to promote economic growth throughout northeast Indiana, Peters said.
The three Commissioners comprise the executive and legislative branches of county government, and Peters reported $97,307 in contributions in his campaign finance report filed last month – by far the most of any candidate for county office. Anthony reported contributions of $25.
“But I never took anything for granted. (The Democrats) pushed hard,” he said. “I just thank God he gave me the strength and my family the patience for another campaign.”