Jerry Austin Martin survived a second round of voting Tuesday night to win Alma’s mayoral race, defeating Ed Thicksten in a runoff by just over 100 votes.
“This means we will get a couple of weeks to rest and then it’s back to work,” Martin said while celebrating with friends and family inside the Crawford County Courthouse after the final tally had been announced. “I still have to finish as a city councilman. We’re going to get our budgets set and working and then come January 1 the roles change. That’s going to be exciting because we have a good plan, a solid plan that we’ve been talking about for a long time. So we’re going to get to work with it. We’re going to get zoning up to date, building codes up to date, we’re going to start getting some district overlays in place and start working for the future of Alma.”
Martin recorded 419 votes, or 56.92 percent, to Thicksten’s 317 (43.07 percent). Both candidates were happy to see the big turnout, which is not always the case for a runoff.
“Thank you to everyone who came out and voted today,” Martin said. “I know it’s not a lot of fun to go out and vote for two crazy old guys running for mayor, but it was nice to see everybody show up. We had a heck of a turnout. I think normally you can expect about 15-20 percent come back out for a runoff and we far exceeded that. I don’t know if we set any kind of records today, but if we didn’t we had to come really close.”
Thicksten said, “It was a good fought campaign. It was close and we’re delighted to have as many people come out as they did. That showed there’s a lot of interest and you don’t normally have that in a runoff election.”
Despite the loss, Thicksten said, “I’m very supportive of Jerry,” adding that he’ll continue to work in various capacities to help Alma prosper.
“Absolutely. I’m going to keep all my volunteer work up and work with the city and complete some projects. I’m going to stay involved,” he said.
When told of Thicksten’s comments, Martin said, “That’s what we expect and what we want. I’ve said it all along that I think Ed’s a good man and we expect him to be able to work next to us and with us and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun moving forward. He’s a proven politician, a state representative for many years. He taught me some lessons.”
Martin said the city of Alma has many projects on the horizon and that he’s looking forward to working to bring those projects to fruition.
“We’ve got a $2 million streetscape project that we’re getting ready to start in our downtown area and now we’re going to get to work on the things that will make that not just a streetscape project, but something that will hopefully spur some development in our downtown area,” he said. “That’s really exciting.”
He continued, “What’s important is making sure we’re setting a future for our children. We’ve got a lot of big projects in the works. You’ve got I-49 that’s getting ready to come through and Alma’s going to be in a prime location for that. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get ourselves in a position that, hopefully, if we do the right things, we’ll see a lot of positive growth that’s going to benefit everybody.”
When asked what the citizens of Alma could expect from their new mayor beginning Jan. 1, Martin answered, “They can expect us to get to work on the things we need to do for economic development and community development and the quality of life improvements that we need to get started on. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and get everybody to come together so we’re all going in the same direction and working together as a community.”
He added, “This is what happens when a community comes together. And this is exactly what we wanted to begin with, just getting everybody to come together and understand that we’re all going to work together. This was a community effort. This wasn’t me, this was a community that came together.”
Martin said his positive relationship with the members of the Alma City Council, of which he is still a member until the end of the year, should make for a good working environment moving forward.
“The best part about all this, and I’ve said this from the get-to, I already have the respect of the city council, and most importantly I respect them, too,” he said. “There’s a healthy mutual respect there. We’ve spent the last four years with this divide and this arguing and fighting and now we’re going to be able to work together and I expect us to be able to accomplish some big things.”
Martin said there are “some exciting times in front of us,” adding, “First of all we’ve got to thank God for giving us this opportunity in the first place and to thank other city council members that I’ve worked with over the past few years who supported me. That was a huge part of this. And I want to thank my wife and family and everyone in Alma who came together to make this happen.”
Then, he said, “Now let’s get after it. January 1 can’t come quick enough.”
The night saw the resolution of one other race in the county with Zach Miller winning the runoff race for Cedarville School District Position 4 over Jeffery Cluck by a 188-63 margin. That tally translated into 74.90 percent for Miller and 25.10 for Cluck.