GREENFIELD — Debbie Bledsoe was the only county council winner around when news came she won her race.
There were no cheers. No hugs. Just sighs of relief.
Martha Vail, the race’s top vote-getter, heard the news as she picked up political signs from around the county.
Kent Fisk caught wind of his victory Wednesday after he spent the day balancing work and checking in on election results.
Computer glitches delayed local election results Tuesday night and all but squelched the celebrating that came with them as candidates waited hours to find out whether they would advance to the November race.
“I’m relieved,” Bledsoe said. “We’ll start back up in October, and hopefully November will be great.”
Vail, a first-time politician, led the 11-candidate Republican race for three at-large seats on the Hancock County Council.
She and incumbents Fisk and Bledsoe move on to November’s general election, when they’ll be challenged by Democrats Rita Johnson and Randy Jones and independent Zachary LaFavers.
In the most contested race local officials can remember in recent history, 11 Republican candidates fought to show voters they would spend taxpayer dollars responsibly.
The election pitted incumbents Fisk and Bledose against Vail, Ed Moore, George Langston, John Priore, Scott Wooldridge, Dave Roberts, Mark Lozier, Bob McDaniel and Steve Craney.
Vail, a retired owner of Vail’s Classic Cars, campaigned on her Christian values. She heard she was leading the race Wednesday morning but didn’t know she earned the most votes until she was out picking up political signs Wednesday afternoon.
In the days leading up the election, she met voters at early voting sites to introduce herself and spread her message.
“I think people appreciated that,” she said. “And I’m just grateful they were willing to hear me.”
Fisk, a local business owner who has served on the council for nearly four years and was previously a Greenfield-Central school board member, came in second place to Vail.
On Wednesday, he was ecstatic to be moving on to the November election. The number of candidates and high voter turnout left him uneasy about spreading his message to everyone who headed to the polls on Tuesday, he said.
Now he hopes the local Republican party can come together to support the candidates who are advancing to Nov. 8 contest. He plans to work alongside Vail and Bledsoe as fall approaches.
“It’s a team sport once you get out of the primary,” he said. “It’s not over. We all have to work together now.”
Bledsoe, a retired New Palestine resident, was first elected to an at-large seat in 2012. On Tuesday, she captured third place in the 11-person race. She said this year’s primary was the hardest election she’s experienced. With 11 people, she had to work hard to reach voters and earn the party’s nod, she said.
She listens to voters, is honest and doesn’t make promises — those qualities helped capture votes, she said.
The Democratic and Libertarian parties have until June 30 to pick candidates to fill vacancies on the fall ballot. Each can slate up to three candidates.
Independent candidates have until June 30 to declare their intent to run in the general election Nov. 8.
Hancock County Council at-large (three seats)