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Which Group Will Tip the Balance For Berea Council Race?

08.10.11 02:30 PM – Andy McDonald
In any other year, the race for the vacant Berea City Council seat might have been a battle of personalities.

Not this year. Instead, I suspect the 2011 race to install a one-year replacement for the late Howard Baker could shape up as a battle between interest groups.

Ronnie Terrill

At first glance, it would seem that former council member Ronnie Terrill Sr. is sitting on a tremendous advantage over other challengers. Terrill missed reelection in 2010 by a whisker, and when the question arose concerning who should be appointed to temporarily fill Baker’s term, some citizens argued that Terrill was the rightful heir to the council seat, having come in ninth place in competition for eight city council slots.

Rightly or wrongly, when Terrill didn’t get the appointment in January 2011, many citizens saw it as political retribution for Terrill’s dissent on financial and budgetary matters. In short, Terrill wasn’t picked because he didn’t play nice.

When Terrill wasn’t installed, a group of citizens vowed to remember the decision at the next election. Have they stayed mad enough to campaign and go to the polls to vote for Terrill? If the answer is "Hell yes", Terrill’s in good shape.

Chester Powell

Powell is likable and he has proven capable. His problem may be that opponents will try to hang the 2008 triple tax increases around his neck. The good news for Powell is that both Truman Fields and Howard Baker staged a comeback in 2010 despite having supported the tax hikes of 2008.

As such, Powell’s success or failure may depend on which group shows up at the polls. If the voters are looking for a team player, Powell’s long tenure has proven he can fulfill that role. I think the same people who swept Fields and Baker back into office last year would tend to go for Powell. Powell seems to have worked well with the mayor. That can be both good and bad, because if the Don’t-Tread-On-Me crowd shows up in force at the polls, Powell may be out of luck.

Guy Townsend

What I know of Mr. Townsend is what I have read, and it can certainly be said that he paints his beliefs in bold colors instead pale pastel shades. This is a candidate advocates of the Fairness Ordinance can love, as he was very outspoken toward those who opposed legislation to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered from housing and labor discrimination.

Townsend was also unabashed in his criticism of the so-called “Rebel Run” in which local high school students paraded up Richmond Road bearing Confederate flags. If activists show up for Mr. Townsend on the campaign in the same manner they’ve shown up at events supporting the Fairness Ordinance, Townsend just might be in business.

Mary K. Kauffman

Mary K’s biggest advantage is that she knows practically everybody in town and has been active in Berea for years. She’s well liked, she’s articulate, and she hasn’t been mired in the political fray as Townsend and Terrill have been. Kauffman also has no record to run against, so she hasn’t made anybody mad. Having a record of decisions, any record, could complicate matters for both Powell and Terrill. If the left leaning voters break for Townsend, and the right leaning, cut-spending crowd breaks for Terrill, the lead could land in Kauffman’s lap, meaning this young lady would get her first chance at public office.

Jeff Reed

Does Berea College already have too much influence on the Berea City Council? That question could potentially come into play for some voters when considering Mr. Reed for the vacant seat. However, if one is well liked and well known at the college, that’s a big ‘ol chunk of support to start a campaign with. And like Kauffman, Reed's got no record to run against. So for Mr. Reed, prospects for success might hinge on three factors: his platform, the degree to which he can get college voters show up, and whether or not he’s willing to expend some shoe leather to get votes off campus.

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