OTTUMWA — And then there were eight, including a pair of 30-somethings.

Less than 1,300 Ottumwa voters cast ballots Tuesday in the city's primary, but they determined the ballot for the next month's city election that will result in a new mayor and three new council members.

Whoever ascends to the council bench will be a first-timer in public office; that was solidified when former councilman Mitch Niner was unable to escape the primary as one of the top-six vote-getters.

Three candidates for mayor were whittled to two, as River Hills Community Health Center CEO Rick Johnson was the highest vote-getter in the race with 585 votes, followed by Rick Bick with 511. That earns both Bick and Johnson the spots on the November ballot for the seat held by retiring mayor Tom Lazio.

Johnson, who is temporarily occupying Skip Stevens's city council seat, will be retiring as River Hills CEO in November. Bick is currently a pastor at New Life Center, and a part-time courtesy clerk at Fareway.

Also running for mayor was Robert LaPoint, who received 138 votes. LaPoint lost to Lazio for the seat in 2017.

A crowded council field of nine candidates vying for three seats on the board became six candidates as Brad Stines, Niner, and LeRoy A. Hanna Jr. were the three lowest vote-getters and did not advance to the city election ballot.

Doug McAntire collected the most votes of any candidate in the primary with 655, followed by Sandra Pope with 579, Cara Galloway with 516, Matthew Pringle with 433, Ashley Noreuil with 341, and Russ Hull with 232.

Hull managed to get onto the November ballot by five votes.

The council candidates also come from diverse backgrounds.

McAntire is a disabled veteran and currently a chaplain for the American Legion/VFW. Pope is an educator, currently serving as a substitute. Galloway, 35, is a coordinator for the Southeast Iowa's Court Appointed Special Advocate and Foster Care Review Board programs. Pringle is a computer programmer and analyst at Indian Hills Community College and is also a pastor at the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church. Noreuil, 37, is an operations manager at FedEx Ground, and currently serves in the U.S. Marine Corps reserves. Hull is a sanitation engineer.

Noreuil ran for council in 2017, but had to withdraw because of active military service, though she did remain on that ballot. She did not appear at last week's Ottumwa League of Women Voters forum because of a mandatory drill with the Marine Corps.

The top vote-getter among council candidates will get a head start on their term, as that person will begin serving in mid-November to replace Johnson, since his seat was appointed.

The election is slated for Nov. 2. The three council seats and one mayor's seat are all four-year terms. None of the incumbents are seeking re-election.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker. Chad Drury is a staff writer at the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ChadDrury


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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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