Ironton city council gets clean sweep

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The call was clear for new faces on the Ironton City Council.

The four council seats will be filled by former mayor Bob Cleary, Rich Blankenship, Ralph &#8220Butch” Huff and Leo Johnson. The men defeated three Ironton City Council incumbents Bob Isaac, Bill Nenni, and Brent Pyles all of whom received less than 9 percent of voters' support.

The group of 10 candidates also included Rick Meeks, Raymond &#8220Frank” Murphy, and Devon Harmon, who took home 11, 10 and 6.3 percent of the vote respectively.

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The highest percentage, 12.8 went to Bob Cleary who received 1,765 votes, which means he'll take over as council chairman in December of 2007. Cleary previously served eight years on the council.

&#8220I'm anxious to get started and get the city turned back around to the way it used to be, and try to get the city services up.” Cleary said. &#8220I think that people who really know me know what I can do, and the vote shows they put a lot of trust in me.”

Political newcomer Leo Johnson finished a close second to Cleary with 1,674 votes cast in his favor, good for about 12.15 percent.

As he left the Lawrence County Courthouse, Johnson said that the thrill of victory was dampened somewhat by the defeat dealt to the Ironton City Schools levy to fund new schools.

&#8220It's bittersweet. I'm glad I won Š but my 10-year-old son got beat,” Johnson said.

&#8220After all the work I put into (the campaign) I'm glad, but it hurts me for my son. I was very passionate about that, I wanted that to pass for what it means to our kids. I'm happy that I won Š but (the levy) still bothers me.”

Lawrence County Children's Services investigator Rich Blankenship was the third-highest vote getter. He received 11.6 percent of the vote, with 1,597 cast in his favor.

&#8220I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support I received,” Blankenship said. &#8220I really appreciate it and I'm going to do the best that I can do for our city. I don't really know what to say. I'm glad to be a part of it, and I look forward to going to work for our city.”

Right on the heels of Blankenship with 1,564 votes was Ralph &#8220Butch” Huff who received 11.4 percent of Irontonians' support.

&#8220I feel OK. I feel like we've done the right things, and tried to get our message out,” Huff said. &#8220I feel like we have a shot at turning the city around Š if we have a united council. If we have a wild card in there that's looking to further his political career, that's going to damper things too.”

Huff also expressed his concern over the appointment of a new member to the city council which will replace Jesse Roberts, who left the council late last month.

In accordance with law, the replacement must be made within 30 days of Roberts' departure, which means it will be made by the sitting council.

The new council members will take their seats on Dec. 1.