First runoff election in eight years to begin in December

Ames City Council voted to repeal the existing mask ordinance effective May 28, and a resolution was passed to suspend enforcement of the ordinance until that time. 

Amber Mohmand

For the first time in eight years, there will be a runoff election on Dec. 3 for the representative of the 4th Ward for the Ames City Council. 

Elections took place Nov. 5 for the Ames City Council. Tim Gartin ran unopposed for reelection representing the 1st Ward and Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen ran unopposed for reelection to be the at-large representative on the Council. 

While Gartin and Beatty-Hansen were reelected, the candidates for the 4th Ward failed to reach a sufficient count, causing a runoff election — something that has not happened since 2011. 

Three candidates ran to represent the 4th Ward: Rachel Junck, senior in chemical engineering at Iowa State; Chris Nelson, who is currently the 4th Ward representative; and Joe Van Erdewyk, an Iowa State alumnus, transit driver for CyRide and tutor at the Ames Public Library. 

A total of 1,220 votes, one of which was a write-in, were cast among the five precincts in the 4th Ward.

“For the Nov. 5th election, it was 50 percent plus one,” said Chris Andringa, administrative assistant for the Story County auditor’s office. “Since nobody got that total then, in this case, the top two vote-getters will advance in the runoff election, and then whoever gets the higher number of votes will be the winner.” 

Joe Van Erdewyk — who had 196 votes with 16.07 percent of the majority — will not be participating in the runoff election, leaving Junck and Nelson to compete against each other

Andringa said in the runoff election, depending on the area and type of political race, there are slightly less turnout rates than regular elections. 

Junck received the highest number of votes with a total of 604, leaving her seven votes short of winning the election with 49.51 percent of the majority. If Junck were to be elected, she would be the youngest woman in Ames history to win a seat on City Council. 

“I was really excited [about the results], Junck said.” “I think it showed a lot of our hard work from the past six months really paid off, and even though it did come down to being so close, it was exciting to come down to almost 50 percent. I think it will be exciting to see how the runoff will go.” 

Junck’s campaign has been focused on reducing waste production and making Ames a carbon-neutral atmosphere. 

Junck said her team has done a good job with outreach, going door-to-door and asking students and community members what they would like to see improved for the city of Ames. She plans to continue this strategy until December.

Running against Junck with the second-highest votes, Nelson, who is currently representing the 4th Ward, had a total of 419 people vote for him, giving him 34.34 percent of the vote.  

“With three people running, I kind of always had in the back of my head that a runoff was a real possibility,” Nelson said. “[I was] surprised but not surprised. But [I] was very happy to have the opportunity to go onto the next round and continue to engage and get the message out. Hopefully, we can turn it around this time.” 

Nelson’s campaign has been focused on encouraging students to vote, finishing the Ames 2040 plan and creating a greenhouse gas inventory using data to develop an income plan. 

“The score is zero-zero again and we’ll regroup and hit the ground running pretty hard,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of excitement and energy with the people who are helping with my campaign; we’re looking forward to it.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 3. Voters may deliver their ballots to the Auditor’s Office or vote at the designated precincts. The runoff election will be limited to only the residents in the 4th Ward, and they can vote in the same precincts as the November election. 

In-person absentee voting will begin Monday and will be available during regular business hours until 5 p.m., with the exception of Nov. 28 and 29, as the office will be closed due to Thanksgiving. Voters can start requesting absentee ballots via mail Monday until 5 p.m. Nov. 22. 

The ballots must be postmarked no later than Dec. 2 and received by Dec. 5. More information can be found at the Story County Auditor’s website