BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison residents overwhelmingly reinstated Mayor Brad Randolph in Tuesday’s municipal elections, while 2nd ward residents elected Bob Morawitz to the City Council.
Randolph soundly defeated challenger Chris Sorrentino in every district and in absentee balloting. Sorrentino launched his campaign in late spring campaigning on restoring trust with Fort Madison residents and eliminating wasteful spending.
In total Randolph took an overwhelming 67% of the vote 695-208. Fort Madison’s Andy Andrews accepted a late write-in campaign and 128 votes were for write-in candidates.
“I’m flattered and humbled as usual that people got out and for the support I received,” Randolph said. “It just kind of reaffirms the progress that we’ve made and the way we’re going about things and our future for the vision of Fort Madison. All in all I’m excited about the win and excited about continuing on as mayor and I look forward to future success with the city.”
He said he wasn’t surprised at voter turnout but is concerned about voter apathy.
“I think for a city election, we always talk about turnout and participation and apathy and how we make that better. Whether people are satisfied or they don’t choose to get involved or they don’t think their vote matters…I don’t know how we interpret the results.”
Absentee voting continues to be an accurate barometer of final results as Randolph accumulated 131 absentee ballots to Sorrentino’s 41.
The mayor ran unopposed in 2015 and won over Donna Amandus in 2013, 536 to 360 after being appointed in 2012 following the death of Mayor Steve Ireland.
Randolph said he always appreciates those who get on a ballot.
“I always appreciate people running. That’s the democratic process,” he said. “When you get somebody, maybe it takes a single issue that starts the ball rolling, but you hope they don’t stay a single issue candidate. And there’s 300 or so voters out there that think we have some shortcomings, so going forward everybody’s opinion counts and we need to roll those decisions into our decision-making process as well.”
Phone calls to Sorrentino went unreturned Tuesday before this article was posted.
In the 2nd Ward, Morawitz succeeded in ousting Brian Wright from his council seat. Morawitz won the second ward election with 177 votes to Wright’s 120. Morawitz won the absentee push 42-24.
“I’m still stunned. I went out and worked for it and I think talking to people is what really did it for me,” Morawitz said after the results were posted.
“I’m at a loss for words. I anticipated winning but I guess I wasn’t prepared for it.”
The 61-year-old electrician had tried four years ago to take Wright’s seat but lost 70-60. He said Wright served the city well.
“I really appreciate the service he has provided the city. He’s done a good job over the years. It’s a tough job to do and campaigning is a tough job and he’s worked hard at it. I hope I can continue to do good work for the city,” Morawitz said.
One of the first chores Morawitz said he wants to undertake is bridging the communication gap between the city council and its residents.
“One thing I was really campaigning on was better communication between the city and citizens. There is so much I still need to learn about the council and those insights and I want to try and improve on that and let people know things before they happen,” he said. “I want people to hear what the council is considering and then people can talk to their councilman and get input on their feelings. That’s been an issue with a lot of people.”
Morawitz will officially take the council seat with the first meeting in January.
Wright said he felt Mark Lair and Rusty Andrews running unopposed put somewhat of a spotlight on the 2nd ward.
“I think the difference was possibly a little lower voter turnout, maybe Bob Morawitz had more of a name recognition this second time around,” Wright said Tuesday night “But I think the issue was that I was opposed, and maybe that was a factor with voters who felt the city council wasn’t going in the direction they wanted it to. The other two ran unopposed.”
Wright said he went into Tuesday night thinking that, win or lose, he had done his job and served the residents of the 2nd ward admirably.
“I’m happy with what I did going door-to-door and not taking anything for granted and sticking to the issues,” he said. “I do feel like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders. We had an election watch party at the Hillside Inn and I congratulated Bob on his victory. In general I’ve done my job well. I know the city will progress no matter who’s on the council.”
In the unopposed ballots, James “Rusty” Andrews received 862 votes to 58 write-ins and Mark Lair received 199 votes to 11 write-ins.