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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2005

Water plant uproar cited as Delta vote ousts pair

DELTA - Challengers received a flood of support from voters in the Delta council race Tuesday, with a controversial water plant issue apparently enough to wash out two incumbents in the Fulton County village.

It's been years since two incumbents lost bids for re-election on the same election day in Delta, veteran observers of the political scene said yesterday.

Frank Wilton, one of the incumbents turned out by voters, said, "The uproar with the water plant was more than common sense could override." That's the "only thing I can attribute it to," he said. Incumbent Allan McQuillin also lost.

Village Council imposed a 8.7 percent water rate increase to help pay for a new treatment plant.

The water plant construction cost was estimated at $4.2 million in 2001. Work under way now is expected to cost $6.2 million by the time the plant is completed in summer 2006.

Because animosity over the water plant issue ran deep, "I do not know how I could have beat that," Mr. Wilton said.

The top vote-getter out of a field of seven candidates vying for three seats was Rose Butz, who was heavily involved in the water plant issue. She and other residents opposed the water rate increase to help pay for the new plant. She couldn't be reached yesterday for comment.

Ms. Butz was among opponents who filed a lawsuit against the village clerk over a referendum on the increase. The clerk had ruled that proper procedures weren't followed in filing the referendum paperwork. A Williams County judge later ruled in favor of the village clerk.

Elsewhere in the county, several incumbents lost bids for re-election. It's possible that two trustees were unseated Tuesday by voters in Swancreek Township, including veteran Trustee James Meyer.

However, Mr. Meyer could pick up enough votes to retain his seat when the county's 135 provisional ballots are counted this month. Mr. Meyer trails candidate Ronald Holdeman by 10 votes, according to unofficial tallies. Candidate Phil Wiland, a former trustee, was the top vote getter, while incumbent Trustee Richard Stout finished a distant fourth.

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