Paul Satchwill, the Democratic contender for Batesville’s District 4 city council seat, was at home in the early evening Nov. 5, surrounded by supporters who were awaiting returns. What was his mood like? “I’m very excited and very proud of the campaign that we ran. I had some amazing volunteers who helped bring this campaign to life … and made a big impact.”
The other Democratic candidates in contested races, District 3’s Andrew Cambron and at large nominee Pam Simpson-Flodder, wanted to learn results privately with their families.
On the other hand, local Republicans vying for offices congregated at The Sherman.
Soon after the polls closed, District 3 incumbent James Fritsch said, “I feel pretty confident (about my chances). I’ve done everything I possibly can.”
District 4 incumbent John Irrgang reported he wasn’t sure what the election results would be. “I think the fact that I’m a little bit older than my opponent may help because more people know me and my (late) parents. That may give me a bit of an advantage.”
He couldn’t confirm it, but Irrgang said he heard that there was a heavier turnout than expected. (Please see turnout article for specifics.) “If more voters were predominately older, my chances may be much better. If they were younger, I don’t feel as confident.”
Franklin County votes came in around 6:30 p.m., showing a lead for all the Republican candidates.
Shortly after 7:30 p.m., longtime local politico Dogger Dickey made an announcement: “All absentee votes in Franklin County went in our direction.”
Then at about 8:30 p.m., Ripley County votes were tallied. Results weren’t online yet, and still weren’t available at 10 p.m., but a Republican runner at the courthouse in Versailles phoned in final figures, which are unofficial for two weeks until the state certifies them.
Republicans were victorious in all precincts, according to tallies on a screen at the restaurant and, finally, on the Ripley County website late Nov. 5.
Results were identical to those in 2015: The Batesville City Council will be all male and 80 percent Republican when members are sworn in Jan. 1.
Irrgang retained his District 4 position, defeating Satchwill 927-530. He garnered 63.62% of the votes, the widest margin in the local races.
Bill Flannery captured the at large seat with 62.05% over Democrat Pam Simpson-Flodder. Unofficial numbers were 901-551 in both counties.
Fritsch held on to District 3 with 61.9% of the vote, besting Democrat Andrew Cambron 897-552.
Republican incumbents who were unopposed were re-elected and joyful: Mayor Michael Bettice, Clerk-treasurer Paul Gates and District 2 councilman Tracy Rohlfing.
Just two Democrats will take office in January. Darrick Cox will continue to represent District 1 on the council. John Kellerman will become city judge again after serving two terms from 2008-15. He was defeated by Republican Kristen Weiler in the 2015 election, but she opted not to run this time around.
The candidates had different campaign strategies.
“Three core volunteers went door to door with me,” Satchwill reported, showing a Batesville map taped to his kitchen wall with areas they had canvassed. The quartet also walked in last summer’s Batesville Fire & Rescue parade. “We were very active on social media” and other voter outreach. “It was really a team effort.”
The contender, who teaches English at Batesville High School, noted that council member and fellow BHS teacher Darrick Cox “has been a great help in the campaign,” calling him “experienced, energetic and very motivational. He’s definitely been that mentor figure for me.”
The most common issue Batesville residents spoke about with Satchwill was the need for improved sidewalks and walking paths. Some were interested in voting for new council members who would offer fresh perspectives.
“Of course, people were concerned about the shell building and getting that sold.” City officials decided to construct a large building in the hopes of attracting an industry and more jobs to Batesville. It has been for sale for about four years.
Other residents told the candidate they want to make sure citizens with mental health issues are being served and “have the means to get where they need to go, whether the food pantry, Kroger or a job.”
Irrgang said his effort “was almost strictly knocking on doors, probably about 1,400. I did very little on Facebook. I feel like people appreciate it when you knock on their doors …. They even thank you for stopping by.”
Flannery noted, “I used a multitude of media, advertising in The Herald-Tribune and on WRBI, knocking on doors and used Facebook. There was a lot of sharing on Facebook.” He also concentrated on “going to every event and meeting possible …. I made a lot of phone calls, telling people to get out and vote …. I followed up with over 150 people today, making sure they remembered” to cast ballots.
Fritsch revealed, “I put signs in strategic places … to get as much visibility as possible. I was also on Facebook talking about issues people are concerned with …. I got more feedback on that than anything else.”
The mayor said this time around was a “dramatically different experience. ... Four years ago (when he had competition), I spent hundreds of hours knocking on doors, putting up signs and going to different events trying to be seen.
“I did enjoy (campaigning) four years ago .... (Wife) Lori and I did put some signs out last night, but the pressure was off” in 2019. “I slept much better last night (than before the 2015 election), and today I spent time getting my mother to the polls …. I had more fun this time.”