A. Ann Bradshaw

For the first time in its history, the city of Brazil elected a woman for mayor Tuesday during a general election, opting to keep A. Ann Bradshaw in office.

Bradshaw, a Democrat, won with 974 votes, or 58 percent of the overall votes. James D. Sheese, the Republican candidate, garnered 670 votes, or 41 percent.

Votes are unofficial until certified by the Clay County Election Board.

As the former president of the Brazil City Council, Bradshaw became mayor in June after Thom Arthur resigned.

“I’m really pleased and real happy,” Bradshaw said after the results were in, surrounded by friends and family at Democrat headquarters near City Hall. “I made history again. I was the first woman elected to City Council in 1991.”

Bradshaw said she couldn’t have done it without her supporters.

“I want to thank every one of ‘em, no matter what they did, I want to thank them,” she said.

Her first priority as mayor is to begin an income survey that she hopes will help the city obtain a grant, “so we can look at the water tower and retention pond.”

Residents and politicians emphasized throughout the election the need for replacing or repairing Brazil’s water tower, which is functional but is considered by many to be an eyesore.

Another major goal for the city is to fund a retention pond as a prerequisite for street improvements.

Bradshaw said she respects her opponent, Sheese, “and I wish him the best.”

Sheese, a 20-year member of the City Council (and president of the council under former Mayor Kenneth Crabb for 12 years), said, “I have nothing but praise for [Bradshaw]. [She] did what she needed to do.

“I knocked on doors in the city in the primary and in the fall election, and I don’t know anything else I could do … I showed up at the caucuses, I showed up at the debates; my opponent did not …

“The people got what they asked for,” he said, adding, “I feel happy with what we accomplished.”

Sheese, a retired teacher who spent 34 years in the Clay Community Schools, said he will not run again.

“That’s it,” he said. “Twenty years is long enough, I’ve done my duty. We’re going to relax, enjoy ourselves, visit our kids.

“I’m going to spend more time in the woods and in my boat and enjoy myself,” he added, wife Deanna by his side.

In the race for clerk-treasurer, current deputy clerk-treasurer Karen McQueen, Democrat, defeated Republican Janet Wallace 893-723.

The race, characterized by James Sheese as “vicious,” was marked by the recent suspension of Wallace from her full-time position of deputy clerk-treasurer.

McQueen, who had been employed part time, took over Wallace’s duties, after Wallace was accused of paying city taxes late on four occasions, costing the city more than $6,000 in penalties.

Wallace admitted her errors, but claimed she kept incumbent clerk-treasurer Tracy Webster informed of the late payments. Webster, who suspended Wallace, did not run for re-election. Webster claimed Wallace had not communicated the late payments to her. Wallace stated publicly that her suspension was politically motivated.

Wallace waited for the results of the election in the Clay County Courthouse with other Republican candidates as the precinct returns were projected onto a screen in the Circuit courtroom. She was surrounded by members of her family. Wallace left after the final precinct results, and a phone message left at her home was not immediately returned Tuesday night.

McQueen, who watched the returns from Democratic headquarters, said the election was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole life … [but] I’m so, so happy.

“I knew it would be close,” she added. “[Wallace] was a very tough person to beat.”

McQueen said, “the first thing I’m going to do is get those books straight, starting the first of next week.”

The Brazil City Council races all were contested, except one: Steven A. Lamb, Democratic incumbent for Ward 3, garnered 358 votes.

Ward 1, formerly held by Sheese, pitted Democrat P. Brad Deal against Republican Lucinda K. Schmaltz. Deal won with 280 votes; Schmaltz received 94.

In Ward 2, a Republican won, with 297 votes. Samuel N. Glover prevailed over James N. Bales, who received 97 votes.

The Ward 4 Democratic incumbent Bill Lovett won with 236 votes, while Republican Erich J. Erst received 154.

Finally, the City Council at-large seat remained with Republican incumbent Patricia Heffner. With 912 votes, Heffner defeated challenger Vickie Lawhorn, who received 701 votes.

Several candidates Tuesday bemoaned low voter turnout. There were about 1,700 votes cast in Brazil on Election Day, which represents about 27 percent of the voting-age population in the city of Brazil, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

(The U.S. Census estimated Brazil’s population at just over 8,200 for 2006; about 6,200 of those are 18 or older.)

Sheese said the apathy of the voting-age population is a problem.

“What really hurts,” he said, “is – look at the thousands of people who died, who give us the right to vote, and we stay home …

“We’ve lost over 5,000 over in Iraq so we have the privilege … and we sit back and don’t turn out.”

McQueen said she had predicted a turnout of about 1,500 voters; to see more than 1,700 was impressive, she said.

Deb Kelly can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or deb.mckee@tribstar.com.

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