Wregglesworth avoids recall

ONAWAY – Mayor Gary Wregglesworth will finish his term as Onaway’s mayor, and one city commissioner has been recalled.

Unofficial vote totals show Wregglesworth winning over recall challenger Jim Gibson 144 to 107, with Commissioner Chuck Abshagen taking 134 votes in a recall effort sparked by public anger over Gibson’s firing as police chief earlier in the year. That recall unseated Commissioner Jessie Horrocks by a single vote, with Roger Marsh taking 115 and she 114. Marsh will serve until the end of the year. Recall challenger James Grainger took 112 votes.

In a twist, Horrocks will join city commission again in January to serve a full term in the regular election. She and Abshagen were re-elected with 105 and 131 votes, respectively. Challengers Marsh got 96, Grainger 91, Brad Porter 39 and Richard Norman 26.

While the recall was mostly unsuccessful, both sides feel the voters have spoken in their favor. Wregglesworth said he was pleased with the results and wants to move the city forward. He’d also like political discourse in the city to return to a constructive tone.

“We’ve got to get back on the path of what’s best for the city and move forward,” he said. “Let’s put this behind us.”

While Horrocks said she wasn’t pleased with the recall election results, she plans to let them go unchallenged and attend city meetings as a regular resident until she rejoins. When she does, she’d like to get back to work on the projects city government is pursuing.

“I look forward to rejoining the commission in January,” she said.

Abshagen said he was relieved, not only for himself but for Onaway as well. He was concerned other candidates didn’t have the experience necessary to serve on city council.

“I’m more relieved for the people of the city,” he said. “They deserve competent leadership. I hope I’m not being too harsh on them, but I feel that way, I really do.”

Gibson said he wants his supporters to know his efforts, and those of other recall challengers, didn’t end on Tuesday. There’s another recall election in May, this time against Commissioners Ron Horrocks and Bernie Schmeltzer. He respects the voters’ decision, and will keep trying until there’s a change in Onaway.

“We’ve raised some awareness of what’s going on here in Onaway,” he said.

Tuesday’s election was a good one, Grainger said, and the close results on the recall definitely show Onaway voters are not completely happy with their city government. He thanked everyone for coming out to vote, and hoped city commissioners realize he and other recall candidates are sincere in their efforts.

Marsh didn’t want to comment until the results were official, as he expects there will be an automatic recount of the votes. He doesn’t expect to get much accomplished during his partial term as city commissioner.

Porter said he believes there were too many names on the ballot, and the results would be different if just Marsh and Grainger had run for a full term. He’ll be running in the May recall as well.

Norman said he was disappointed by his loss, and said he’ll try again in May’s recall election.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.