Incumbents do well in city races

Wetzel, Mangold, Sapp and Lensegrav lead primary


Election night was a good night to be an incumbent in Powell.

In the city’s four primary races for mayor and three city council seats, the three incumbents — Mayor John Wetzel, Ward II City Councilman Scott Mangold and Ward III City Councilman Tim Sapp — outpolled their opponents by double-digit margins in what was a dry run for the November general election.

With just two candidates running in each city race, all of the candidates will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

In the Ward I City Council race between Steven Lensegrav and Ernest Phipps — the only Powell city race to not feature an incumbent — Lensegrav racked up more than 65 percent of the vote against Phipps to emerge as the favorite to succeed outgoing Ward I Councilman Eric Paul.

“I was very honored, actually, when I saw the results,” Lensegrav said. “I was really excited about the outcome there, because you never know how it’s going to turn out going into that. ... I’m pretty excited about the next step, going into the general. The same trend hopefully occurs in November.”

Phipps had words of praise for his opponent and said he planned to vote for Lensegrav in the general election.

“I think last night was great,” Phipps said Wednesday morning. “I think that the younger generation needs to get involved because everything that goes on now affects them, from the local to the national politics.”

In the race for mayor of Powell, incumbent John Wetzel received more than 64 percent of the vote, outpolling challenger Ryan Miller 843 votes to 467. There were also five write-in votes.

“It’s always good to have people step up and run for office,” Wetzel said. “I appreciate having Ryan put his hat in the [ring] and I look forward to competing the rest of the way.”

Miller was conciliatory after Tuesday’s primary — but still hopes for a different outcome in November.

“I’m just grateful for those that did vote for me,” Miller said. “Obviously, it wasn’t how I hoped it would turn out, but I reached out to John [Wetzel] via Facebook and congratulated him. November should be a little different story — not sure how much, but more people vote in the general.”

The closest race of the night was in Ward III, where Sapp edged challenger Tawnya Peterson 224-172, picking up 56.6 percent of the vote to Peterson’s 43.4.

“The election’s not over yet,” Sapp said. “We’ve got to keep working till we get to the end. I’d like to thank those who did vote for me, and I hope they remember me in November.”

Peterson said she was pleased with her solid second-place finish Tuesday.

“I really appreciate everyone that voted for me,” Peterson said. “I really look forward to November and getting out there and meeting everybody and continuing to talk with the voters and letting them know what I can bring to the city council.”

In the Ward II race, Mangold had the best night of any city candidate, earning more than 74 percent of the ballots (382 votes) to easily outdistance challenger Michael Newton, who had 128 votes. There were also three write-in votes in Ward II.

“The numbers were a bit down for Park County,” Mangold said. “I would have liked to have seen a better turnout,  especially with the [county] commission races. ... The incumbents seemed to do well.”

“Hopefully that means we’re doing OK and that people are somewhat satisfied with what we’re doing,” he added. “Hopefully, we can keep doing that.”

Despite finishing with about one-fourth of the Ward II vote, Newton still has hope for the general election.

“I’m still optimistic,” Newton said. “I think I can get out there and talk to people and stuff and get my name [better] known.”