New state representatives
BENTON - Southeast Missouri residents will have two new representatives taking their issues to Jefferson City.
Republican Ellen Brandom will be the new state representative from the 160th District. In the 161st District, voters selected Democrat Steve Hodges as their next state representative.
According to vote totals from the Missouri Secretary of State's office, Brandom rounded up more than 58 percent of the total votes cast Tuesday to defeat Democratic challenger Larry Tetley. Incumbent Rep. Peter Myers could not seek re-election due to term limits.
In Scott County, 160th District representative Brandom received 5,783 votes, and Tetley garnered 4,364 votes. New Madrid County voters cast 298 votes for Brandom and 150 for Tetley while the portion of the district in Cape Girardeau County saw 417 votes for Brandom and 162 for Tetley.
The final unofficial totals are 6,498 for Brandom and 4,676 for Tetley.
"What a humbling experience this has been to have so many workers, helpers and friends do all of this hard work," Brandom said.
Brandom expressed gratitude to all those who've helped in her campaign. "I will always work really hard, and I will always have an open-door policy for persons of either party -- and I certainly will try to make everything I said happen," Brandom said following her win.
Meanwhile, Tetley said he was happy he and Brandom were able to compete in a good, clean race. "And I was also glad to see voters get out and vote. I'm very pleased to see the high voter turnout," Tetley said.
Thanks to home-county voters, Hodges came out the winner in the race for the 161st District's state representative seat. Mississippi County voters contributed 2,347 votes to Hodges' total and 1,719 votes for the Republican candidate, Gary Branum.
The 161st District also includes a portion of New Madrid County where voters gave Branum 1,786 votes and Hodges picked up another 1,508 votes. Scott County voters contributed to the 161st District representative race with 1,562 voting in favor of Branum and 1,447 voting for Hodges. While in Stoddard County, Branum had 281 votes over 199 votes for Hodges.
According to the Missouri Secretary of State's Website, the final tally was 5,501 for Hodges and 5,348 for Branum.
"It was very close," Hodges said. "We lost in three of the four counties."
Hodges said he appreciated the high voter turnout for the election.
Voter turnout in Mississippi County was "better than 50 percent," according County Clerk Junior DeLay. He described the turnout as "very good for a mid-
term election -- very good."
"I'm excited for the people that supported me," Hodges said regarding his apparent victory. "They put in a lot of time and effort. I'm glad that I have been the answer to whatever they wanted me to be."
Hodges said he tried to stick to the high road during his campaign by concentrating on issues -- a strategy he believes was rewarded at the polls.
"They were excited that that's the route we took," he said. "I do think the positive, direct route was the way to go."
Hodges estimated his opponent spent $4 for every dollar spent by his campaign.
"We did with what we had. ... Why should we spend that kind of money on a state house (race)?" he said. "I think there should be some limits placed."
Hodges said his responsibility is now to be "a hard working state legislator, and that's what I intend to be."