Chesterton Tribune



Cobbs beats McCord by 1 vote in Chesterton

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How often does a voter wake up on the morning after an election to learn that his or her ballot actually made the difference?

Not a difference.

Literally the difference.

Or--conversely--how often does a person who had better things to do than vote wake up to learn that he or she could have deadlocked the election?

Literally deadlocked it, just by showing up and casting a ballot for the other guy.

It never happens, ever, until it does, as it did in Chesterton on Tuesday, when in the single contested race--for the open 4th District seat on the Town Council--Republican Nate Cobbs beat Democrat Scot McCord by jut one vote, 399 to 398.

Just for the record, Cobbs had 50.0627353 percent of the vote, to McCord’s 49.9372647 percent.

At around 8 p.m. Tuesday, McCord had rough-and-tumbled his way to a slim 14-vote lead over Cobbs, with only one precinct of 12 still out: Westchester 3, which as it happens was one of only two of the 82 precincts in play in Porter County still uncounted by that time.

Cobbs, monitoring the results in the Porter County Commissioners’ chamber at the Administration Building in Valparaiso, could do the math as well as anyone. He needed 15. And he had some reason for hope: Westchester 3 is comprised chiefly of the Westchester South and Chestnut Hills subdivisions, in the former of which he’d grown up as a boy and in both of which reside a lot of young families not unlike his.

In the end, Westchester 3 came through for Cobbs, who won it by 15 votes and the whole shebang by just the one.

In its coverage of the race, the Chesterton Tribune had made much about the demographic differences separating McCord and Cobbs: McCord the blue-collar union Democrat and a grandfather almost twice his opponent’s age, versus Cobbs the white-collar wealth manager and a father of a pre-schooler and a kindergartner.

None of that, however, appears to have mattered much. What did is geography.

McCord, who grew up on 15th Street, captured every precinct west of 11th Street--that’s four precincts--with 59 percent of the vote.

Cobbs, on the other hand, captured every precinct but one east of 11th Street--that’s seven precincts--with 57 percent of the vote.

The one exception, moreover, is telling. The only precinct east of 11th Street which McCord took and Cobbs lost was Westchester 1: anchored by Morgan Park and a lot of Chesterton old-timers.

In no precinct, though, was either candidate truly trounced. Cobbs’ biggest margin was 66 percent in Westchester 14; McCord’s, 66 percent in Westchester 18.

And even in Westchester 3, which Cobbs absolutely had to win by 15 votes, McCord still took 43 percent of the vote.

Of the 10,696 registered voters in Chesterton, only 816--a paltry 8.3 percent--bothered to show up and be citizens, compared to a county-wide turnout rate of 20.9 percent. The 8.3 percent rate is a slightly better turnout rate than 2011’s--6.9 percent--but miserly compared to the 22.4 percent in 2007 and the 14.7 percent in 2003.

Cobbs took a moment Tuesday night, minutes after Westchester 3 came in for him, to thank his supporters. “It was quite an experience,” he said. “I put a lot of time and work into this, out shaking hands, and I had a lot of people helping me, so many I can’t even thank them for what they’ve done for me. I’m truly grateful for all the help and support I’ve gotten.”

Only the razor thinness of his victory margin surprised him, Cobbs noted, not the closeness of the race itself. “It was a very close race the whole way along, as people looked at us and thought we had many similar opinions of the town and things we’d like to see happen in the town,” he said. “I think that (McCord) also had a good group of supporters behind him, who believe in Scot and what he’s done for nearly 30 years in this town. But at the same time there were many supporters behind me who’ve seen what I’ve been able to do. If you asked me this morning, I would’ve said it would be close tonight. Not one-vote close. But maybe 20 votes.”

“I’m grateful to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to serving the Town of Chesterton,” Cobbs concluded.

McCord, for his part, told the Tribune this morning he has no intention of seeking a recount. “That would cost the taxpayers a lot of money,” he said. “What are they going to find? We’re tied? And then what?”

As he did in his candidate interview, McCord wished Cobbs well and said that he hasn’t a doubt in the world that Cobbs will prove a valuable addition to the Town Council. “I’m happy for Nate. He’s a young guy who wants to be involved and I’m really happy he’s getting his chance. I wish him all the luck in the world. I’ve got another year on (the Utility Service Board). I’m not going anywhere.”

McCord did have a few choice words for the 92.7 percent of eligible voters who stayed home. “I can understand that,” he joked without much humor in his voice. “It was miserable fighting the 75-degree inclement weather. This town is in a sad state of affairs when you’ve got 797 people deciding who’s going to run Chesterton. And when the council does something the folks who didn’t vote don’t like, they’re the first ones to stand in line and bitch.”


Posted 11/4/2015




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