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Challenger Turns Hassell Out Of Office Judy Elected Mayor In Low Voter Turnout

Steve Judy narrowly defeated incumbent Mayor Al Hassell in the mayor’s race Tuesday evening with all 20 precincts reporting.

Judy, human resources director for North Idaho Immediate Care, watched early returns with his supporters at Capone’s restaurant.

“Whatever it turns out to be, I’m sure that’s what’s meant to be.”

Hassell had attempted to become only the second person in the history of the city to capture a second term as mayor.

“No matter who wins, it’s not a big mandate,” Hassell said as he watched early election returns at home.

Considering that about 16 percent of the registered voters turned out, and the vote split was nearly even, “about 8 percent of the people will have elected the mayor.

“That’s terrible,” Hassell said. “That shows a lot of apathy.”

Despite the defeat, Hassell was upbeat. “It’s God’s plan - he decides what needs to be done.”

Far fewer voters turned out this year as did in the last mayor’s race.

In 1993, 5,204 voters cast ballots, overwhelming electing Hassell over two-term Mayor Ray Stone.

This year it was closer to 4,300.

The election was as low-key as Hassell’s governing style. The sole issue to hit the headlines during the fall campaign was how the city should deal with leaves people rake off of their lawns.

However, money and style played a role. Hassell spoke quietly of his accomplishments - keeping taxes low, $25 million in street projects, buying right of way, streamlining government.

Partner in an insurance and financial services firm, Hassell declared that if people were satisfied, they would return him to office.

Hassell said he would continue to stay involved civic affairs, as he has since coming to town in 1970 and joining Jaycees.

Judy, fueled by generous donations from Concerned Businesses of North Idaho, outspent Hassell 13 to 1.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo