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November 7, 2012

Anderson tops Mason: GOP candidate unseats incumbent Dem Commissioner Paul Mason

Anderson first GOP commissioner since ’94

TERRE HAUTE — Republican Brad Anderson pulled off the lone upset at the county level Tuesday, defeating long-time Democrat incumbent Paul Mason for the District 3 seat for Vigo County Commissioner.

Anderson garnered 19,389 votes, surpassing Mason who received 18,663 votes, 50.9 percent to 49 percent, in an unofficial tally. The votes are unofficial until certified by the Vigo County Election Board on Nov. 16.

Anderson, 60, will become the first Republican county commissioner since James Adams, who served as commissioner for 16 years (four terms), from 1979 to 1994. Adams was among county officials who were instrumental in acquiring land that is now the Vigo County Industrial Park from the federal government.

“Jim Adams and the Adams family where very good friends of mine and I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jim Adams because he was a good commissioner and always had time to talk to you and that is what I want to do,” Anderson said after the election.

One issue that may have been a contributing factor in the victory, Anderson said, was business owners, especially taverns and veterans organizations over a county clean indoor air ordinance.

“I thought there should have been a lot more discussion on that,” Anderson said. “There was a lack of communication between the owners of businesses, including the VFW, the American Legion and AMVETs” with county commissioners, he said.

“I am sure it did make a difference” in the election, Anderson said. “They [business owners and veteran groups] felt like there was not enough communication and that could have been the difference, yes.”

Another issue was a lack of notification on zoning, specifically with an issue between Cobblestone Crossing and residents of Woodgate. Anderson said he is not sure if that had an impact on the election.

“I think it was again, a lack of communication. When zoning is changed, we need to make sure residents are notified by a certified letter. That will be a priority” to accomplish, Anderson said.

Anderson has served on the Vigo County Council since 1994. A party caucus will be held in January to elect his replacement. Anderson was also a former county assessor and operates his own sound company and sings in a local band.

“I had the name recognition, even though I was outspent at least three to one or four to one,” Anderson said. “I have been defeated in elections before, but it is more fun to win,” he   said.

Anderson said as a commissioner, he will put politics aside and do what is best for the county. Anderson said his main focus will be economic development “and bringing jobs to Vigo County.”

Mason, 64, was first elected to the commissioners in a party caucus in November 1998 to fill a vacancy after the death of former commissioner P. James Diehl. Mason then won election in 2000.

Prior to the election, Mason, a Vietnam veteran, pointed to his decision-making, such as implementing a clean indoor air ordinance for the health of county workers. He also touted work on maintaining and improving roads, in part from about $3.5 million approved by the Vigo County Council from the county’s Rainy Day Fund.

“The people in Vigo County made a choice and it is Brad and I respect that choice,” Mason said after the election. “The reason they selected Brad over me, I don’t know if it was the clean air ordinance or what, I am not sure.

“As a commissioner, you fight many battles and this was a battle that I did not win. It was a good race between me and Brad and I respect the peoples’ choices of who they want to vote for in Vigo County. You are elected by the people to serve the people and those voters can take you out office and they selected Anderson as their commissioner and I respect their decision,” Mason said.

“I have no regrets. Not many people can say they have served the community for over 40 years being on the [Terre Haute] fire department and being a commissioner. I am proud to have served the community,” Mason said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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