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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Baird wins Commissioner seat

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

As it is with most political races, Tuesday night's battle for Putnam County Commissioner was a sweet victory for one man and a disappointing loss for another.

Republican hopeful Jim Baird secured the win in Putnam County's second district over Democratic challenger Russ Evans.

The final tallies showed Baird on top with 5,556 votes compared to Evans' 3,853. Baird took 27 of 29 precincts for the win while Evans garnered more votes than Baird in the Fourth East and Third West precincts.

"I did everything I had to do," a clearly disappointed Evans said after conceding the race Tuesday night. "I ran a clean campaign. I talked about the issues. I never went negative on anyone and I always answered people's questions."

A visibly elated Baird told the BannerGraphic, "We're extremely pleased -- looking forward to moving ahead.

"I tell you the other thing we're pleased about is the voter turnout. We're really pleased to see that kind of interest in this midterm election."

Baird gave credit for his victory to his family and his efforts to get out in the county and talk to the voters.

"I got a good team and we strategized," Baird said pointing to his two sons and wife standing nearby. "My team is competitive and I'm proud of them."

Evans also believes he worked hard during the race and is happy with what he was able to accomplish.

"I probably made 300 some phone calls of my own, did the door to door, visited all the fire departments, visited all the chili suppers and bean dinners and shook hands," Evans said with a smile. "I just tried to come in with an open mind, but I didn't play the game to come in second."

Evans said he believes he did all he could to gain the support of voters on the opposite side of the political aisle, including spending his day at the polls in Floyd Township.

"Most of the people came ready to vote so their minds were made up before they got there," Evans said. "I've always been that way. If you're gonna go vote, do your homework."

In the case of Baird, it seems to have worked to his advantage.

"I thought I had an understanding of the county and the people had an understanding of me," he said. "I enjoyed the campaign. You know I traveled this county back when I was in the extension and got all over."

Despite the loss for Evans, he says he was able to draw some positive results from his experience.

"For whatever it's worth, I think I was pretty confident in the beginning, but I think I've gotten a little more self confident as far as doing the speaking and talking about the issues," he said.

With the race for the county's top seat finally over, Evans said he'll shift his focus back to serving on the Greencastle City Council which he'll do at least through the end of his current term. He declined to comment on any future run for political office.

"Whatever happens in the future, I'll continue to do what I did," Evans said. "I'll continue to talk about the issues. I'll talk about me and I'll stay away from all the nonsense ..."

At the same time, Baird will be preparing to take his seat on the commissioner's board in January.

"Bottom line, I would just like to have the time between now and the first of the year to try to look or visit with each office holder and see what their needs are, what their limitations are and see if there's any common ground that commissioners has influence on," he said.

Some goals Baird has for his upcoming term include maintaining the county's roads and bridges, improving computer technology for county offices and working to keep county finances in order.

"I go back to what I said originally -- I think we're always gonna be under the challenge of funds and so I'm gonna look for ways to look at revenues and expenses and try to look for the best avenues," Baird said. "There's some IT technology that I would like to look into -- just the sharing of information with these computers and are we getting where we want to be there?"

Looking back on his campaign, Baird says he has no regrets.

"You could stand here and second guess that all day," he said. "We did what we thought we had to do. We're not as experienced as some people probably are at this, but we've got a good team."

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