Going into the Nov. 5 election, it was inevitable that at least two newcomers would be elected to Delaware City Council, with Mayor Gary Milner and Vice Mayor Windell Wheeler not seeking re-election.
The victorious newcomers are George Hellinger and Kent Shafer, who will join incumbent and top vote-getter Carolyn Kaye Riggle on council at its next meeting. The three will represent Delaware at large.
Riggle was the clear front-runner, taking 2,320 votes (25 percent). Hellinger made a strong standing with his 1,812 votes (20 percent), and Shafer eked out a win over fellow candidates Terrie Price and Teri Owens with 1,303 votes (14 percent).
Price and Owens weren’t far behind Shafer, respectively receiving 1,246 and 1,153 votes (each 13 percent).
Robert Hoffman earned 763 votes (8 percent) and Jeff Rike took 572 votes (6 percent).
The two new council members will be sworn in at council’s Nov. 18 meeting. They’ll immediately jump in to reviewing the 2014 budget.
“We had a strong relationship before on council and I hope we continue to do that with the new people coming on,” said Riggle, who will enter her third term. “George has a good idea of the budget and the financing, so I think he’ll do fine and I’m sure it won’t take long for Kent Shafer to catch up to speed.”
Riggle, 46, has lived in Delaware for 26 years. She has two daughters and five grandchildren. In addition to her work as an escrow agent and marketing specialist, she is a member of the Delaware County Fair Board and the founder of DMAG, a group that offers support to Delaware veterans and family members of deployed military members.
Hellinger, who got a late start on campaigning because the Delaware County Board of Elections delayed certifying his candidacy because his nominating petitions weren’t stapled when they were turned in, said he’s relieved that all the extra work he put into making the ballot was worth it.
“I’m glad the campaign is over because it was the longest eight weeks of my life,” he said. “But, with that said, now we can get down to the business of helping Delaware move forward – and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Seven years ago, Hellinger was appointed to the Delaware Planning Commission, and for the last two years, he has served as its chairman. He said hopes to continue his involvement with the commission once he’s sworn in as a councilman.
Hellinger, 54, works as an information technology manager for SumTotal Systems. He and his wife, Brindi, have lived in Delaware for 18 years. Both their daughters are Delaware City Schools graduates.
Although his running mates Price and Owens came up short at the polls, Shafer said he can represent their shared vision of maintaining the city’s services while keeping the taxes low.
“The two things that I think everyone expects city government to do are to be a good steward of tax money and to provide the best services possible,” he told ThisWeek Delaware News in October while campaigning. “I think we need officials who are good problem-solvers and good communicators who have a proven track record of doing those things.”
Shafer, 59, is a former police commander who retired in 2012 from the Columbus Division of Police after more than 33 years of service. He has lived in Delaware for 10 years and has two children.