Election upsets in both Dem and GOP races

KNOX — It was a night filled with many surprises as voters waited for the much anticipated results to come in. Two races which brought a riotous amount of applause from supporters gathered at the Knox Community Center was Nancy Dembowski’s win over Republican candidate Francis Ellert for State Representative District 17 and Sheriff Oscar Cowen’s victory against challengers Gordon Richie (R) and Greg Wireman (I). While Cowen’s race was a landslide victory from the get go, Dembowski’s was more of a nailbiter as some voters sat glued to the TV while others anxiously awaited the next set of numbers to go on the giant tally board that had been erected at the front of the Giant Room at the Community Center. At evening’s end, Dembowski’s result was a happy won, garnering 8891 votes to Ellert’s 8620.
Cowen, who won his race with 57.40 percent of the vote, said he was overwhelmed by the amount of support he received from Starke County Citizens.
“I’m just overwhelmed with the support that I got in this election. I’m very relieved that the citizen’s of Starke County have faith in what I'm doing. I’m going to continue to do the best job I can,” Cowen said.
Cowen also said he is already looking forward to some positive changes going on at the jail and in the community.
“I’m looking forward to getting our drug education back in the schools. We also have a new jail commander, Darrell Gunn whose been really doing good at keeping the jail population numbers down. Darrell’s been doing an excellent job of keeping the inmates going down to the department of corrections. My plan is to continue to keep Starke County a safe place to live,” Cowen said.
Starke County Commissioner Jennifer Davis retained her seat on the board of commissioners with a narrow win over Republican challenger Bryan Cavender. Davis claimed a victory by just 128 votes with a total of 3488 to 3360. It seemed to be an evening for upsets in both the Democratic and Republican camps as long-time Starke County Councilman Chuck Estok was unseated by an extremely narrow margin by Republican challenger Tony Radkiewicz Sr. Radkiewicz claimed a victory with 968 votes to Estok’s 904.
Radkiewicz said he was thankful for all of the people who got out and voted.
“Thanks for getting out there and voting. I hope I can live up to your expectations for the next four years. We will try to do our best to keep things in line,” he said.
Starke County Prosecutor Julianne Havens was unseated by Nicholas Bourff 3691 votes to 3231.
Havens said she isn’t sure where the road will take her; but she does know it will lead to continuing a career in prosecuting.
“I am proud to have ran an honest and informative campaign. I feel sad that the county is losing prosecuting experience in such an important position. My plan is that I will walk though whatever door God will open for me. But I will look to continue prosecuting,” she said.
Rebecca Ferch was also defeated in the race for County Council District 1 one by Republican Mitchell Semans who claimed victory by a slim margin of just 33 votes.
Judge Kim Hall was another incumbent who retained his position by a fairly healthy vote margin. Hall defeated Democratic challenger David Matsey 4196 to 2801 votes.
Hall said there were so many people to be thankful for. And he is looking forward to the future.
“There are so many people to thank, starting with my wife Susan, our son Matthew, and our daughter Sarah. I have a very dedicated staff that make me look good, and we have lots of friends who stand beside us in good times and in bad. I count it a privilege to serve the people of Starke County in this position. Everyday is filled with important cases to the people who come to court. I will do all I can to be fair and compassionate in each case, and I’m looking forward to Starke County’s future,” he said.
Leader correspondent Ruby Frasure contributed to this story