Although Tuesday was a beautiful April day to hold an election, the morning started out somewhat stormy in a figurative sense when precinct workers began to call the office of St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick to report that there was something wrong with the poll pads.
What at first appeared to be a problem centered at two Bonne Terre precincts soon spread to other voting locations throughout the county.
And by the time most of the election results had been tallied Tuesday evening at the courthouse annex, Hedrick was more than ready to call it a night.
"I've had one heck of a day and I'm battling an upper respiratory infection on top of it," he said. "What happened was — and I'll take the blame for it — when we uploaded the poll pads on Saturday, I forgot to push one button. In doing that, it went ahead and threw in some of the November election stuff.
"So, luckily we had backups here at the office. We re-uploaded everything into them and got them out as quick as we could. Any precinct close we got them out fast. Any of them far away, it took a while to get them all there, but we finally got everybody up and running."
Hedrick praised the precinct workers for keeping what he described as "a hiccup" from becoming a bigger problem.
"They noticed it real fast and they started calling in," he said. "So, we were able to tell them what ballot style to give them. That was the only thing that was wrong was ballot style. The voters were all in there and all OK, but they didn't have the right ballot style."
According to Hedrick, of the 35,042 registered voters in St. Francois County, a total of 4,237 — or 12.09 percent — cast their ballots on Tuesday.
"That's a normal municipal election turnout," he said. "Sometimes the turnout is even lower than that — this one was a little bit higher."
While most of the races were decided unofficially by about 8 p.m. Tuesday night, some won't be known for certain until the end of this week.
"We have all the results for the filed candidates," he said. "The only thing we don't have are the results for the certified write-ins for Park Hills Ward 4 and (Ward 1).
"There were two filed as certified write-ins for Ward 4, which of course was held by Larry Kelly who passed away. We're in the process of counting those votes now. Then there was one certified write-in for (Ward 1) and that's being counted now. We will have the results Friday when we actually do the certification of the entire election. Right now everything is unofficial."
And then there's Farmington Ward 3, where not even one candidate filed for the office.
"We had to count all the write-ins and there were quite a few," Hedrick said. "It ended up being about three pages of names, so we'll report all that to the city and then the city will handle them from that point on."
Also, the city of Bismarck will take the next step in determining what to do about a tie for councilman in Bismarck.
Besides the initial problems with the poll pads, Hedrick believed everything else about the municipal election went well and he finished the day handing out what he considered some well-deserved praise.
"Thanks to all my poll workers and thanks to all the people for getting out and voting," he said. "You know, this is an important election. This is your local people. This is your schools. This is your cities. You should get out and vote for that."
Farmington mayor race
Farmington's new mayor will be Larry Forsythe.
Forsythe, the Ward I councilman, received 660 votes while Ward III Councilman Dennis Smith received 636 votes. There were five write-in votes.
“I want to congratulate Dennis on a very nice race,” Forsythe said. “I want to thank everyone that voted for me. I really feel honored."
Forsythe, 58, has served on the Farmington City Council since 1993. He serves as the chair of the Public Works committee.
Among the items Forsythe sees as important as he begins his time as mayor are ongoing improvements as the community continues to grow.
“We’ve got a lot of projects going on and we’ve got a lot more we need to start, and I’m just the guy to do it,” he said.
Forsythe also sees tourism as an important draw for the community and is interested in continuing work to honor the history of the community.
Voters also chose Julie McCarver (435) as the new city attorney, beating Kevin Kellogg (395) and Ben Campbell (412).
Elected to Ward 2 was John Crouch (341), beating Perry Willmore (108). Elected to Ward 4 was Vanessa Pegram (220), beating Andy Hardy (134).
Park Hills mayor race
Park Hills will have a new mayor.
Newcomer Daniel Naucke received 432 votes while current Mayor David Easter received 284 votes. There were 22 write-in votes.
“I want to thank my family, all my friends and the people that voted for me in the election,” said Naucke. “I’ll do my best to take the city forward.”
He said he wanted to take a bit of time to settle in before taking steps toward any changes or immediate actions.
“I need to look at what the city’s been doing and what’s going on,” he said.
Easter had served the last eight years as mayor and prior to that served as councilman for seven years.
Reporters Shawnna Robinson, Amy Patterson and Renee Bronaugh contributed to this story.