Jasper County residents turned out in large numbers to support Joe Pugel Tuesday night, sending the 5th District incumbent back to DMACC’s board for another four-year term.
Pugel received 82.17 percent of the vote in Jasper County, compared to his opponent Joe Riding’s 9.37 percent, an overwhelming majority. Residents surveyed in exit polls backed Pugel, insisting DMACC needed local representation. DMACC’s District 5, also includes Polk County, where support for Riding, a resident of Altoona was highest. In Polk County Riding collected 69.87 percent of the vote, only 14.64 percent of voters gave Pugel the nod. In Marion County, Pugel beat Riding handily, 87 to 43, to capture 47.8 percent of the vote. All told, Pugel garnered 1,227 votes to Riding’s 825.
After meeting with a Kiwanis Club in Altoona Tuesday morning and then attending a Rotary event in Newton Pugel said he felt confident about his chances as residents headed to the polls. It wasn’t until he checked the numbers in Polk County that he started to feel a twinge of doubt. When reached by phone Tuesday night and informed that he’d won, Pugel was elated.
“If that’s it I feel pretty good about it,” Pugel said.
Poll worker Ellen Schumann said the turnout from voters was higher than she’d expected. At 5 p.m. more than 500 residents had voted in the election, and with polls set to close at 8 p.m. residents were will streaming in to cast their votes.
“I’ve worked elections before and I’ve had times where we’ve only had 20 people come in,” Schumann said. “For a school board election this is pretty decent.”
Kellogg resident Julie Rose was one of many residents who cast a vote for Pugel. After seeing his yard signs, the Newton realtor started doing some research into his campaign. After realizing that Pugel’s competitor, Joe Riding was from Altoona, Rose said felt compelled to vote.
“It’s got to stay here, we need him here,” Rose said. “DMACC is in Newton, not Altoona.”
This is the first time that Pugel, a 20-year veteran of the DMACC board has faced a challenger. Jennifer Pryke, a Newton resident who is a special education teacher at Lynnville-Sully High School also appeared on the ballot, but had withdrawn her name before the election and thrown her support behind Pugel. An instrumental part of the deal that saw the former Maytag facilities transformed into the Newton DMACC campus, Pugel is also president of the DMACC board.
As the election results were announced, Pugel said it felt good to know the Newton community was behind him. He’ll remain president of the board, and he pledged that he’d continue to work toward growing DMACC in Newton and adding new programming to local campus.
“I want to continue to build on the success that we’ve had,” Pugel said. “People want someone who’s more local, and more rural, and that means a lot to me.”
Pugel’s influence on bringing DMACC to Newton was enough to get Marty Hoffert’s vote. By voting for Pugel, Hoffert hopes that Pugel can help Newton’s DMACC campus continue to grow. He also stressed it was important to have a local candidate, who can represent Newton and Newton’s interests first.
“The other candidate isn’t from Newton, we don’t want voters from Polk County overrunning our interests,” Hoffert said. “We want things to grow and grow and grow here, and to keep bringing more things to Newton.”
Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org