Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Both local political parties facing unity issues

May 6—Tuesday's primary election results came within a few votes of making history.

Incumbent Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. defeated challenger Rodney Chamberlain by 32 votes, dependent on a possible recount.

Republican mayoral candidate Jon Bell defeated Rob Jozwiak by four votes and Carol Miller by 13 votes.

Had Chamberlain won the Democratic Party nomination, he would have become the first Black resident of the city to advance to a general election for the city's top office.

If Miller had prevailed in the GOP primary, she would have become the first woman to advance to a general mayoral election for mayor as the candidate of a major political party.

In total, only 6,831 of the approximately 36,810 registered voters in Anderson (17%) cast ballots. That's a disappointing number when you consider that the direction of the city over the next four years was at stake.

If, as expected, Broderick and Bell contend for the mayor's office in November, both candidates have work to do in unifying their respective parties.

Libertarian Douglas McNaughton will also appear on the November ballot, and his candidacy could affect the final result.

Four years ago, Broderick defeated Republican Rick Gardner by 2,000 votes, receiving 55% of the vote.

Jozwiak, running then as a Libertarian candidate, garnered 9% of the vote or 888 votes.

There has been a lot of speculation that Tuesday's low turnout was a reflection of dissatisfaction with the direction of the city and the candidates running for mayor.

The Broderick camp believes that people didn't vote in the primary election because they were complacent and were under the assumption he would secure the nomination for a third term.

He will be tasked over the next six months with unifying the party and gaining the support of Chamberlain voters. Support in the minority community, which showed a strong preference for Chamberlain, will be especially crucial for Broderick.

As is always the case in local elections, the key was collecting absentee ballots. After the absentees and early votes were tabulated, Broderick led by 253 votes, a margin that Chamberlain nearly overcame.

It could be a more difficult task for Bell to unite the Republican Party.

All three mayoral candidates received at one third of the vote.

A lingering question is whether the people who voted for Jozwiak will remain loyal to the GOP nominee or decide to stay home.

Undoubtedly with three candidates in both primary elections, that third candidate had an impact on the final result in each race.

There were few surprises in the city council races with the five Democrat incumbents winning.

It will be an interesting few months before the November election.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.