Jay County Council candidate Jeanne Houchins looks at her phone along with her granddaughter Aleia Canterbury, 12, during a gathering of local Republicans on Tuesday evening in the Women’s Building at Jay County Fairgrounds. Houchins won a third term as part of a GOP sweep of local races. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Jay County Council candidate Jeanne Houchins looks at her phone along with her granddaughter Aleia Canterbury, 12, during a gathering of local Republicans on Tuesday evening in the Women’s Building at Jay County Fairgrounds. Houchins won a third term as part of a GOP sweep of local races. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
The early voting results told the story.

As the individual precincts rolled in, it did not change.

Tuesday belonged to the Republicans in Jay County.

The GOP rolled to victories in the contested county-level races for commissioner and council, and local voters backed its candidates all the way up the ballot.

Republican Brian McGalliard clobbered his independent opponent Bruce Counterman, racking up 77.8% of the vote for the south district Jay County Commissioner seat. And it was a clean sweep for the three at-large seats on county council with Republicans Ray Newton, Jeanne Houchins and Matt Minnich each picking up at least 4,300 votes while Democrats Judy Aker and Josh Gibson both failed to clear 2,500.

Jay County also strongly backed Republican J.D. Prescott for a second term as state representative in District 33, giving him 76.2% of the vote over Democrat Julie Snider. (For results for other state and federal races, see related story.)

The mood was positive but subdued at a gathering of local Republicans in the Women’s Building at Jay County Fairgrounds. With few contested races, and none of them close, reactions were limited to a few handshakes and quiet words of congratulations.

“I’m happy,” said Jay County GOP chair Jenae Blasdel. “We won everything, dominantly.

“It was a weird year, not a lot of campaigning, so to come out and win like that is very rewarding.”

At Jay County Democratic Party headquarters, three local residents — Fred Bailey, Ron Harris and Ian McIntire — sat at folding tables. Other than Rob Weaver’s voice announcing the results from WPGW Radio, there was little noise in the room as the three men reacted with sighs and head shakes.

“We just (have) to turn out a stronger slate to be competitive,” said Bailey, a former party chair, referencing the races in which there were no Democratic candidates. “You (have) got to give people a choice. If you go uncontested, there is no choice.”

Democratic Party chairman Dominic Martyne was not in attendance as he is quarantined because of COVID-19.

Absentee results that were available before 6:30 p.m. — the polls closed at 6 p.m. — showed strong leads for all of the Republican candidates, a pattern that held until final results were announced.

McGalliard totaled 6,097 votes en route to earning the Jay County Commissioner seat. He won every precinct as he rolled over Counterman, who finished with 1,742 votes.

A first-time candidate, McGalliard said he was relieved.

“Obviously everything’s a little stressful,” he said before reiterating some of the same thoughts he shared following his June primary win over Duane Monroe and Barb Street. “It was absolutely a great experience. I’d love to see more people get involved and run. I think they’d enjoy it, as I have.”

Among his goals as a commissioner as he takes over the seat from Chuck Huffman, who chose not to seek a second term, he noted housing and economic growth.

For county council, the only question quickly became which of the three Republican candidates would earn the most votes. Newton took that honor, picking up 4,962, nearly 600 more than any other candidate in the five-way race for three seats. Houchins edged Minnich for the runner-up spot by a 4,392-4,383 margin. Aker was a distant fourth with 2,446, and Gibson totaled 2,156.

“I’m very surprised at how well I did,” said Newton, who was second behind Minnich in the Republican primary in June. “It makes me proud to be a part of Jay County. Voters still believe in me, and I’m thankful for that.”

The victory earned Houchins, currently the council president, her third term in office. It marks the first term each for Newton, a former two-term sheriff, and Minnich, a member of the county plan commission. Outgoing council members will be Cindy Newton, Ray’s wife, who lost in the GOP primary, and Democrat Gary Theurer, who chose not to seek re-election.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my last eight years,” said Houchins, “so I’m glad to do four more years. …

“I’m very proud of what the council has done. It’s been total teamwork to accomplish what we have accomplished.”

Prescott (R-Union City) won easily over Democrat Julie Snider in the Indiana House District 33 race, both in Jay County and overall. He secured 76.2% of the vote in Jay County, which was even better than his home county — Randolph — where he earned 75.3%. With 96% of precincts as of as of this morning, he was en route to a 73-27 win over Snider.

“I’m humbled and honor to serve at the statehouse and to have the confidence of the voters to continue to serve,” said Prescott, who earned his second term.

He said he is excited to get back to work at the Indiana General Assembly and noted his priority is to expand fiber optic broadband access in rural areas.

Republicans were uncontested for a long list of county-level offices, with newcomer Rex Journay elected commissioner representing the north district after defeating Mike Leonhard in the primary. Also winning in uncontested races were Republican incumbents Jon Eads (clerk), Paula Miller (treasurer), Michael Brewster (coroner) and Brad Daniels (surveyor). Gail Dues, a first-time candidate like Journay, was uncontested for Jay Superior Court Judge after topping incumbent Max Ludy in the primary.

Jay County set records for early voting both in terms of total ballots cast and percentage of overall voters. Nearly 59% of local voters cast their ballots ahead of Election Day for a total of 5,034. Of those, 4,261 were in person at Jay County Courthouse while 773 were by mail.

There were 2,223 straight Republican ballots cast in Jay County compared to 263 for Democrats and five for Libertarians.

Voter turnout for the county came in at 68%, with 8,543 of its 12,534 registered voters casting ballots. That’s up from 65% four years ago.