GOSHEN — During the past few months, two-term incumbent Mike Yoder and challenger Darryl Riegsecker found themselves on opposite sides of the ring, but only one candidate could move on to this fall’s general election in the race for Elkhart County Commissioner.
Yoder successfully defended his post in Tuesday’s Republican primary election, but Riegsecker didn’t go down without a fight. Yoder raked in 9,732 votes at the polls, accounting for 51.9 percent of the ballots cast in the election. Riegsecker, a first-term Elkhart County Council member, trailed behind with 9,019 votes, according to final tallies by the Elkhart County Clerk’s office.
“We ran a very honest and true race,” Riegsecker said, commenting about his campaign.
Yoder, who celebrated Tuesday night with a group of friends in Goshen, said he knew the race would be a close call.
“I never take elections lightly,” he said. “Obviously, when you have a close race like this, you want to thank everybody who worked hard to support you and everybody who worked at the polls. I hope this helps people understand that one vote, two votes or three votes really do make a difference.”
Yoder, who represents District 2, said his campaign focused on making the county a “value-driven community” with an emphasis on education opportunities for youth and adults, building a better-trained work force and attracting better paying jobs to the area.
The two Republican candidates clashed on a few issues, including one that brought criticism in recent weeks against Riegsecker. Riegsecker questioned the county’s $450,000 contribution to the Association for the Disabled of Elkhart County, a nonprofit agency that offers job training and other services for children and adults with cognitive disabilities. Riegsecker said during his campaign that ADEC deserves funding, but the county is not in a financially healthy position to support such a hefty donation. Yoder, on the other hand, said that he does not favor further cuts to ADEC’s already dwindling budget.
“We came out very strongly saying this is a proper role of government, to facilitate education and fund organizations like ADEC,” Yoder said.
Riegsecker said that he would like to thank the people who stood by him during the race against Yoder.
“They are a good group of people,” he said.
Two-term county commissioner Terry Rodino, who represents District 3, ran unopposed in the primary election and received 14,642 votes. The two incumbents will be on the general election ballot in November.