HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WPTA21) — Republican leaders in Huntington admit the party needs to regroup a bit after losing the mayor’s race to an Independent who left the GOP.
“Our neighbors, if we’re serving them well then they will elect us to office again. And if we’re not serving them well then they’ll throw us out on our ear regardless of what party affiliation we have,” says Huntington’s mayor-elect Richard Strick.
A current Republican city councilman, he garnered 50% of the vote while running as an Independent because he didn’t agree with the platforms of the other two candidates.
“I think that Americans as a whole are looking for folks who are willing to rise above differences and work together to accomplish what’s needed in a community. And to have that opportunity on a local level, it’s a great honor,” he says.
He wants to encourage small business growth, entice a grocery store to open south of the bypass, and form a task force to deal with the opioid crisis.
“There’s no Republican way to plow streets, there’s no Democrat way to fix potholes or pick up trash. You’ve just got to get it done,” says Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters.
Fetters says he’s proud of the city’s accomplishments over the past eight years, including paving half the city’s streets, dealing with the landfill, lowering the unemployment rate, and boosting volunteerism.
After losing the primary election, Fetters endorsed Strick, saying his message obviously resonated with voters.
“One that had optimism and a can-do attitude and a spirit of let’s Huntington a place we love to call home. And I think his ‘we believe in Huntington’ theme was fantastic,” Fetters says.
Huntington’s Republican party removed both men from being members in good standing after Strick ran as an Independent and Fetters endorsed him, meaning they can’t hold leadership positions like precinct chairman anymore.
While the chairwoman admits the party will need to regroup after this election, she insists the committee made the correct decision about the two politicians.
“Anybody can do anything they want. Anybody can vote or do anything they want. But as a leader of the party you do have to follow the rules, and that’s our job to enforce the rules,” Rise Buzzard says.
Fetters and Strick say they’re fine with that decision, and look forward to what they hope will be Huntington’s prosperous future.
Strick will take office as Huntington’s mayor after the first of the year.