Two votes decide council race

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Two votes.
That's what decided the Niles City Council race in the second ward, located on the city's east side.
Dan VandenHeede, incumbent, was elected to a new, four-year term over challenger Greg O'Toole by a vote count of 120 to 118.
Both were at City Hall Tuesday evening when results were announced.
He said he "didn't have a clue," how the race would turn out.
In the city's fourth ward, incumbent Bruce Williams, who was appointed in March to the council to fill the remainder of the term vacated by Dan Everett, was elected to a four-year term of his own.
He defeated challenger Penny Brazo, a former councilmember, by a vote of 211 to 109.
VandenHeede is a teacher at Dowagiac Union High School. O'Toole, a former Michigan State Trooper in Niles, is director of transportation for Dowagiac Union Schools.
They congratulated each other, both seeming stunned by the results.
O'Toole said the campaign, his first, was a good learning experience.
He said, while he talked to a number of voters, he didn't do much door-knocking in the second ward.
VandenHeede is best known for his opposition to the city's sale of property in its industrial park to Indeck Energy, which seeks to build a $570-plus million, natural gas-fired electricity generating plant.
VandenHeede clashed with the majority of the council, which successfully voted to sell the property.
O'Toole was backed by Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin, who lives in the city's second ward.
McCauslin, First Ward Councilmember Georgia Boggs and Third Ward Councilmember Robert Chute were each elected to new terms without opposition.
First ward votes
Second ward votes
Race for city council
Third ward votes
Fourth ward votes
Race for city council
Total votes cast in Tuesday's election in the City of Niles, 688.

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