Openness, honesty and transparency are what Muncie’s soon-to-be mayor promises to implement when he takes office.
“We’re going to seek input from the public, from our not-for-profit partners, from our businesses. And we’re going to help Muncie get back to where it needs to be,” said Dan Ridenour (R), who will be inducted in January 2020.
Securing over 60 percent of the popular vote, Ridenour will be the first Republican candidate to hold the position in eight years.
“I’m thrilled that the voters in Muncie decided to make this change — change in style, change in opportunities — I think that will come to our city,” Ridenour said at his watch party held at Knights of Columbus. “It’s very humbling, and I’m excited to have some new faces on the Council.”
According to Victor Whitehead, chairman of the Delaware County Republican Party, this was the first time in 35 years the Republicans have taken back the majority on the City Council.
“I think we just need to go a different direction,” Ridenour said. “Not a major change — but enough to where four years from now, I think you can see a difference; 10 years from now, I think you will be able to see a difference — and that’s what I intend to see happen.”
Ridenour’s victory was part of a sweep of many of Muncie’s city government positions by the Republican party — with Jeff Robinson and Ray Dudley being the only Democrats winning their City Council races. Democrats Jerry Dishman and Anitra Davis both ran unopposed.
Councilperson-elect Richard Ivy said Ridenour’s personality and character has been the same since the day he first met him in February.
“For nine months, I’ve not seen a chink in his armor,” Ivy said. “I haven’t seen him waver. I haven’t seen him get out of character.”
Ball State College Republicans President Sabrina Kilgore said Ridenour’s history in the banking industry qualifies him to handle Muncie’s financial problems, and his personality would make him a good leader.
“I think he brings honesty and experience,” Kilgore said. “When people talk to Dan, they relate to him really well. He’s a down-to-earth, easy-to-talk-to guy, and I think people see that.”
After his victory was announced, Ridenour said fixing Muncie’s roads and infrastructure would be one of his highest priorities, starting with sidewalks near schools.
Ridenour also congratulated his opponents on the races their campaigns ran over this year.
“I appreciate both of the opponents, and I know how grueling it can be,” Ridenour said. “They’ve done a great service for our city, and I appreciate that service.”
Terry Whitt-Bailey (D), who placed in second, told her volunteers and supporters that, while she wasn’t going to be mayor, she was still their Democratic mayoral candidate.
“What I have always said [is] that God is preparing us for great things — that he has prepared our community to move forward,” Bailey said during her speech at her watch party. “We're going to do what we should be doing, and that is lifting up our community. We've got to continue to do positive things for our community, not to sit back.”
Bailey said her group will let people know that it is a “diverse and inclusive group of individuals“ — something people wouldn’t find “at the other place.”
The purpose of her run for mayor, Bailey said, wasn’t because she was African American, but because she was qualified.
“If that's the only reason that people wanted me to be in office, then that would be the wrong reason,” she said. “It’s because of my qualifications, not because of the color of my skin or the fact that I'm a woman.”
When she first heard her daughter would be running for mayor, Janice Whitt, Bailey’s mother, thought she would “make a great mayor.”
“How I felt about the whole thing was that whatever was supposed to happen today would happen,” Whitt said. “I believe that whatever God had planned is what was going to happen today, and if she won, she won. If she didn’t win, she didn’t win. It’s in the plan.”
Moving forward, she said, she wanted to see her daughter “just be herself” and continue to work for the community.
Steve Smith (L) said he knew the election would result in a Republican sweep, but he did his job “being the voice for the people” and said he would continue doing what he can to help the Muncie community.
“Now, we just have to endure what the Republican Party is going to do,” he said. “I just don’t want to hear excuses.”
From what Smith has seen from the Republican Party, he said, “it hasn’t been in our best interest in the past.”
“I have to see with open eyes — see if it’s going to be better or if it’s just going to be another smoke screen and they continue to do the process we’re already seeing in place,” he said. “They got their wish to be in total control, so now we’re going to see what they’re going to do with that.”
Congratulating his opponents and winning candidates, Smith said he encourages Muncie citizens to not only vote, but “step up to the plate” and consider running for office like he did to get “integrity back into politics.”
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