Low turnout election produces tight races

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wheaton Fire narrowly approves property tax levy

Tuesday’s election resolved numerous Barry County races, some by the slightest of margins, in a year with many unopposed races.

Barry County tallied one of the lowest voter turnouts for April’s vote in recent years, mustering only 6.7 percent turnout or 1,483 votes. A lack of contests at the municipal level contributed to apathy among voters.

Barry County cities


The real change occurring from Tuesday’s election will take place Monday night at the Purdy City Council meeting. West Three-term Ward Alderman Brian Bowers will resign to take the oath of office as mayor

Purdy had passed an ordinance negating the need for an election if only the needed number of candidates filed. That returned Scotty Redshaw for a third term from the East Ward, and William Hughes for a full term in the West Ward, having gained that seat by appointment following the death of Dan Musgrove.

Village of Emerald Beach

The only real suspense in municipal elections in Barry County was in the lakeside village of Emerald Beach, where elections are seldom held. In the last five years, the only vote took place in 2019. One of the winners that year, one-term incumbent Matthew McBryde, earned his seat back this time with 57 votes. The other two vacancies generated 45 write-in votes. The apparent victors were John Schmeltz with 15 votes and John Plumlee with 13. Ten others each received a single vote.

Emerald Beach voters were asked to increase the homeowners maintenance fee from $100 to $150. That proposal ended in a dead tie at 35 votes on both sides, defeating the proposal. A second issue, asking voters for permission to not hold future elections if only the needed number of candidates filed, passed 44-25 with 64 percent in favor.


Business will continue as usual in Cassville with no changes on the city council. Mayor Bill Shiveley kept the job he has held since 2012 with 129 unopposed votes. Jon Horner returned for a fifth term as the North Ward alderman. Taylor Weaver received the green light for a second term with 50 unopposed votes.


No races developed in Wheaton. David Shockley earned his fourth term as mayor with 52 votes, fending off two write-ins. In the East Ward, one-term incumbent Casey Prewitt received 28 votes with two write-in ballots in opposition. In the West Ward, Jon Brattin returned for his first full term following his earlier appointment, receiving 27 unopposed votes.


No election in Exeter did not change a jumbling of faces on the city council. Former South Ward Alderman Jeff Scott, who left the council four years ago, takes over as mayor. He received 31 votes against 8 write-ins.

First-time candidate Christine Hammers claimed the North Ward alderman’s seat with 15 unopposed votes. The other North Ward seat recently changed as well after incumbent Gus Robbins resigned, resulting in the appointment of Tasha McNabb, a past incumbent, to the post. In the South Ward, Rhonda Scott, who has been on the council since 1995 except for a two-year term, retained her seat with 21 votes and fending off five write-ins.


One change comes to the Washburn city council, but not due to a public vote. Thomas Galloway filled one of the two at-large city council seats with 19 votes, a position vacated when incumbent Greg Varner moved out of the city. Three-term alderman Jeremy Johnston kept his seat with 20 votes. A single write-in vote objected.

Five-term mayor John Tiedman kept his seat with 19 votes, fending off three opposing write-in votes.


No changes took place in Seligman, though the players reflect a shuffling over several years. Michael Avers, who has served on the council since 2015, will take his term as mayor, receiving 18 votes and a single opposing write-in ballot.

In the East Ward, former mayor Ron Corn got a fourth term as alderman. In the West Ward, past mayor Robert “Bob” Hughes earned a second term as alderman. Both received 9 votes.

Village of Butterfield

Barely any votes were cast in Butterfield, leaving different faces from two years ago. Mark Thomas claimed the East Ward seat with 6 votes. Darrell Mathis received three votes to take the West Ward seat.

Village of Chain O Lakes

Three incumbents, all first elected in 2019, earned second terms. Brenda Pierce and Mike Strother each received 19 votes. Barbara Wolfe had 20 votes.

Village of Arrow Point

Two candidates, Kayleen Lentz and Kendall Hanson, each received four votes to claim the two trustee seats on the Arrow Point village point. No write-in ballots were cast.


The cities of Cassville, Exeter, Seligman, Washburn and Wheaton all voted on whether or not to authorize Barry Electric Cooperative to build a fiber optics network. All the cities gave the plan public blessing, passing 116-9 in Cassville, 29-9 in Exeter, 19-2 in Seligman, 22-0 in Washburn and 45-8 in Wheaton.

Barry County schools

Purdy R-2

A three-person race favored the incumbents in Purdy. Reuben Henderson secured a second term as the highest vote getter with 104, followed by four-term incumbent Ken Terry with 91. First-time candidate Kelli Stephens finished out of the running with 55.

Wheaton R-3

A four-person race for two school board seats added one new face to the Wheaton school board. First-time candidate Chris Ray led the field with 135 (126 Barry, 9 Newton), and two-term incumbent Kevin Schlessman secured the second seat with 113 (106 Barry, 7 Newton). Out of the running were first-time candidates Meagan McCullah with 45 (43 Barry, 2 Newton) and Timothy Peckham with 26 (25 Barry, 1 Newton).

Shell Knob No. 78

The Shell Knob K-8 school district, which seldom has an election, picked two directors in a close contest. Incumbent board president Robert “Bob” Stewart led the four-person field with 130 votes (97 Barry, 33 Stone). Incumbent Donna Lehr received 97 votes (66 Barry, 31 Stone), edging Sandra Cupps with 74 (61 Barry, 13 Stone). Carla Hartwell finished a distant fourth with 21 (17 Barry, 4 Stone).

Cassville R-4

No vote was needed in Cassville. The two one-term incumbents, Wade Hermansen and Steve Henbest, had no opposition in their bids for re-election.

Exeter R-6

No changes came with no vote in Exeter, in a cycle that drew no opposition in 2018 either. Sammy Hudson secured re-election to an eighth term, and Mitch Sorensen returned for a fourth term.

Southwest R-5

Similarly, the Southwest school district had no vote three years ago and the winners then drew no opponents this year. Returning to office are six-term incumbents Danial “Danny” Dalton and Robert Catron.

Fire districts

Elected to fire districts without opposition were Richard Linebarger and Park Stumpff in Cassville, Gene Stimble in Central Crossing, Gary Paul and Ron Shockley in Exeter, and Randall Wallace and Steve Williams in Wheaton.

The Wheaton Fire Protection District approved a measure adding up to 30 cents to the property tax levy to support district operations, passing narrowly 84-76 with 52 percent support. State law calls for organizing fire districts with a 30-cent levy and allows increases in a similar denomination. This was a special election for the Wheaton Fire District, which is scheduled for regular votes on even years.

Road districts

A handful of road district commission seats were left open for write-ins.

The open Butterfield Road District seat received 20 write-in votes for eight different candidates. Rusty Dilbeck had 9 to lead the pack. Patrick Caddell, Larry Newman, Larry Privett and Mark Hughes each had two votes, and two other candidates received a single vote.

The Viola Special Road District received 24 write-in votes for nine candidates. Gary Ashford led the field with 12. Dean Grassing got three and both Steve Noller and Mike Fox had two. Five candidates had one each.

In Barry County, elected without opposition and a public vote were Jamie Cornell in Ash, Kyle Forgey in Capps Creek, Rick Epperly in Corsicana, Gary Moreland in Crane Creek, Josh Still in Exeter, Carroll Craig in Flat Creek, Robert Evans in Greasy Creek, Jason Hudson in Jenkins, Ron Campbell in Kings Prairie, Eddie Dummit in McDonald, Mike Collins in Mountain, Robert Miller in Ozark, Mark Witt in Pioneer, Jon Godsey in Pleasant Ridge, Rick Scott in Purdy, Eddie Gibson in Roaring River, Rylan Kremier in Shell Knob, Randy Miles in Sugar Creek, Jeff Cockrum in Washburn, C.L. England in Wheaton and Larry Mann in White River.

Other elections

Four people ran for three open seats on the Barry County Health Department board of directors. Term limited former State. Sen. David Sater, a professional pharmacist before turning politician, led the field with 1,125 votes. Sater has also served on the Barry County Tax Board for the Developmentally Disabled.

Past board member and former department director Paul Strahl took the second seat with 758. Incumbent James Brasel claimed the third seat with 631. First-time candidate Roger Schnackenberg finished out of the running with 574.

Two faces will change on the Barry County Emergency Services Board, where neither incumbent from the North Ward opted to run again. Emma Burns and Nick Mercer, both from Purdy, will take the places of incumbents Mike Bennett, from Purdy, and Andrew Peters, from the Butterfield area. No race was needed for the two South Ward seats, where incumbent David Dalton from Washburn and Rusty Rickard from Shell Knob ran without opposition.

No races developed for the two open seats on the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District. David Compton, two-term incumbent from District 4, the east half of Monett in Barry County, signed up to run again, as did Wyatt Howerton, from District 1, representing rural Monett in Barry County. Howerton joined the board in November 2018 by appointment, making this his first run for a full three-year term.

The countywide vote to retain Barry County’s .5 percent sales tax to support road and bridge maintenance, which generated $2.3 million in 2020, passed easily, 1,202-250, with 83 percent support.

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