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Experience wins in Fulton municipal races

Experience wins in Fulton municipal races

Benton returns to lead council

April 6th, 2011 in News

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: (Left) Robert Craghead congratulates LeRoy Benton for his win Tuesday night at the Callaway County Courthouse after the election results came in. Wayne Chailland (middle) won his bid for Ward 1 Fulton Councilman.

With four incumbents returning as well as a former council member as the new mayor, there will be plenty of experience on the Fulton City Council for the next year.

Ward 1 Councilman Wayne Chailland - the only incumbent to face an official opponent - defeated write-in Michael Harrison with 83.55 percent of the vote to join Ward 2 Council Members Mary Rehklau and Lowe Cannell and Ward 3 Alderman Richard Vaughn in returning for another term. Former council member LeRoy Benton won the mayor's seat with 57.92 percent of the vote.

In Ward 4, newcomer Rick Shiverdecker also had a commanding lead over write-in candidates Charles E. Williams Jr. and April Teel with 70.54 percent of the vote.

In the mayoral race, Benton received 662 votes, while opponent Robert Craghead - also a veteran of Fulton politics - garnered 478 votes.

Benton, who served for 10 years as a Ward 1 council representative from 1998 to 2008, said his initial reaction to the results was a combination of relief and surprise.

"I knew it would be real close," he said, adding that "Robert is a good friend."

Now that it's official, Benton said he is ready to take over the helm of the city council.

"I'm looking forward, I think, to the challenges we're going to put together and to making the transition with the current mayor and working out a short-term plan," Benton said.

Shiverdecker said he was surprised at the strength of his win, noting he was most looking forward to "just going home and telling my wife."

He said he is looking forward to settling into the council and familiarizing himself with the issues at hand.

"I know one of the issues right now is the raising of the water tower," Shiverdecker said. "Pretty much I want to come in and see where everybody's going."

Once he has gotten settled in, he said one project he would like to see take off over the next two years is developing the Tennyson Park property.

"I want to see something actually happen with that," Shiverdecker said.

Chailland, who is finishing his first two-year term after a previous four-year stint in the 1990's, said he thought his race may have been closer had his opponent not been a write-in candidate - noting that "sixty-three votes is good for a write-in." The council veteran said he is excited for another two years serving Ward 1.

"We've got a new mayor now," Chailland said, noting he is looking forward to working with mayor-elect LeRoy Benton. "LeRoy is very conservative and that will go along with what I think, because we need to cut the expenses back somewhere, and I don't want to keep taxing our citizens."

Chailland said he doesn't have any one particular project in particular he wants to focus on to start this new term, although he did reiterate that he would like the city to try to attract more employers. He also emphasized the importance of getting the Callaway II nuclear facility approved.

"We've got to do what we can on getting that nuclear plant done," Chailland said. "The shot in the arm that would give this community is unbelievable."

Fulton's newly-elected officials will be sworn into office during the April 12 council meeting.