GREENFIELD — Challenger Marc Huber beat two-term incumbent Commissioner Derek Towle in the Republican race for the county executive seat Tuesday.
Overwhelmed with congratulations from friends and party officials, Huber was all smiles at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex when results showed his victory by 196 votes.
“I knew it’d be close,” he said. “I told them I thought it’d be 200 votes either way.”
Huber ended up with 3,515 votes; Towle, 3,319. Richard Walker, another challenger in the race who did not actively campaign, received 996 votes.
“We did our best. I wish him well,” Towle said Tuesday night.
Towle, who was seeking a third term, currently serves as president of the commissioners. He had raised more than three times as much money as Huber, and he said Tuesday he had worked hard to defend his record.
Towle, also a Greenfield police officer, was left not knowing what led to his election loss.
“I did all I could do,” he said, adding that he will continue to serve as commissioner the rest of this year to complete his term. “I’ve served my community; I did what I could do. That’s what I want to be remembered for.”
Huber, 39, has been on the Hancock County Council for the last year and a half but decided he’d be better suited as a commissioner, where he can offer his expertise in infrastructure.
A Greenfield resident and owner of local trucking company Huber Enterprises, Huber said it could have been the issues he brought up in his campaign that secured the victory. But he was also grateful for all of the campaign help from friends and family. His sun-kissed face that matched the color of his bright-red T-shirt showed he’d been at the polls all day campaigning.
The race for county commissioner had heated up in the past two weeks.
The biggest spat between Huber and Towle had to do with Towle’s affiliation with the Hancock County Commissioners Political Action Committee. The PAC holds annual fundraisers and accepts contributions from companies that do business with the county. Towle received $15,000 from the PAC this year for his campaign.
Huber said that led to a “pay to play” scenario for commissioners, and he questioned Towle’s ethics on the matter. Towle, however, said the PAC actually distanced him from the companies because they were not contributing directly to his campaign.
Huber and Towle did not see eye-to-eye on several other issues in county government. Huber portrayed himself as the more fiscally conservative candidate, pointing to Towle’s support of the Mt. Comfort Road roundabout and his vote in favor of a bond issue in 2012 as red flags in spending.
Towle stood by his record and said he, too, was fiscally conservative and always thought about how county spending would affect his family. Towle said the roundabout will help people safely get through a busy intersection, and the area is poised for economic growth.
Meanwhile, Walker, the third candidate in the race, said he was fine with the result. The 67-year-old Jackson Township farmer was mainly concerned with rural roadwork and congratulated Huber for the victory.
“I’m happy. Me and Marc was on the same page; that’s why I just left everything alone,” Walker said late Tuesday night. “He made some good points. We need somebody new, and he’s got the same ideas I had so I’m happy for him.”
So far, there are no Democratic or minor party candidates slated yet for the November general election. If no other candidate files by June 30, Huber will become county commissioner in 2015. He will also have to step down from his county council seat, and a Republican Party caucus will be held to pick someone to fill his shoes on the fiscal branch.