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Decisive Democratic wins in West Lafayette

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski stands with West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis and West Lafayette Mayor-elect Erin Easter (WBAA/Ben Thorp)
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski stands with West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis and West Lafayette Mayor-elect Erin Easter (WBAA/Ben Thorp)

Democrats quickly pulled ahead in a variety of races across Lafayette and West Lafayette Tuesday night.

In West Lafayette, the city council is now entirely represented by Democrats. The council’s sole Republican, Jeff Brown, lost to Democratic challenger Stacey Burr.

In a race for the city’s at-large seats, Democrats David Sanders, James Blanco, and Iris O’Donnell Bellisario held out against Republican challengers Patrick Flannelly and Brian Russell.

Bellisario said she saw another trend coming out of the night.

“I actually think it’s more of the fact that there are a lot of women running and I think there hasn’t been a lot of representation for women on the city council,” she said.

Flannelly said the “R” next to his name was a deciding factor.

“I just hope that everyone that is there is there for the right reasons, and is there for the best of the city and not just there for their own personal interest,” he said.

West Lafayette’s Director of Development Erin Easter is now officially the city’s mayor-elect. Easter ran unopposed after receiving an endorsement from outgoing mayor John Dennis.

Easter said this final step felt different.

“I’m not an elected official and by the end of the night that changes and the gravity of that changes as well,” she said.

Dennis, who announced an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis last year, has been saying his goodbyes to the community – including a farewell visit to the Lafayette City Council meeting earlier this week.

Dennis has also spoken about the importance of political diversity in city government in recent weeks.

“Political diversity is an easy thing to say, but the thing you really hope for is good people,” he said. “They’re going to do what is best for West Lafayette.”

Across the river in Lafayette, Tony Roswarski won his sixth term in office. He said he’s grateful to voters.

“Six terms is a long time, and we are just thankful to them for their vote to allow us another four years,” he said. “Our whole team won tonight.”

Roswarski, himself a Democrat, cautioned against reading too much into the night’s results.

“Tomorrow there’s no Democrats and no Republicans,” he said. “...I think people appreciate that nonpartisan approach.”

In Lafayette, Democrats won in all of the districts except for District 1 – where Republican Jerry Reynolds ran unopposed.

Tippecanoe County Republican Party Chair Tracey Brown said he expected to be closer in some of the races.

“We have to do what we normally do and take a look at it, see where we could do better,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time because the filing period opens up the first weeks of January.”

Tippecanoe County Democratic Party Chair Jacque Chosnek said candidates worked hard throughout the campaign.

“I’m very excited for the next four years for both Lafayette and West Lafayette,” she said.

Some 11 percent of registered Tippecanoe County voters turned out for the November municipal election. According to Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush, that compared with roughly 12 percent during the 2019 municipal election.