May the best man or woman win

In the first time in Seymour’s history, voters have chosen a woman to contend for the city’s highest leadership position.

Local Democrats have elected political newcomer Rexanne Ude to face Republican Matt Nicholson in the mayor’s race in the general election on Nov. 5.

Ude, 62, received 543 or 81.2% of 669 votes to beat out candidates Jim “Mike” Kelly, who received 103 votes or 15.4% and Tyler Henkle, who received 23 votes or 3% in the Democratic primary Tuesday.

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Nicholson, 41, earned 593 votes or 39.7% of 1,494 votes to secure the Republican nomination, defeating opponents Bridey Jacobi (244 or 16.3% of votes), Tom Joray (220 or 14.7% of votes), Nathan Otte (199 or 13.2% of votes) and Matt Rowe (238 or 15.9% of votes).

This year’s mayoral race has received a lot of attention after Republican Mayor Craig Luedeman announced in November he would not seek a fourth term.

It’s the first contested mayoral race since 2007, which featured five Democrats and three Republicans, including Luedeman. The ballot does not include independent or Libertarian candidates, who may appear on the general election ballot.

If elected in the fall, Ude said she plans to retire from her current position as

director of development at Schneck Medical Center and executive director of the Schneck Foundation to give her full attention to the duties of running the city.

She said being the first woman candidate for mayor was not a deciding factor to run for office.

“It was an afterthought,” she said. “I was excited to see Bridey (Jacobi) run too and hopefully we have opened up a gate that has been closed in the past,” she said. “With my history with Girls Inc. and empowering young women, I hope they can look at my situation now and it has a positive impact on them.”

With one election down and one to go, Ude said she will focus her efforts more on letting people know what skills she has and what she brings to the table.

“Whether that’s gathering small groups, going door to door, putting out more signs, I don’t know yet,” she said. “But it’s going to be a number of opportunities to get a lot of different people around the table to have conversations. It’s not so much about me, as it is about our community and what it expects and wants.”

Ude said she views the position of mayor as that of running a business.

“The city is a business to be run, and we can’t work in the silos that we have in the past,” she said. “I hope that I have proven myself both professionally and personally with my years of growing and developing Girls Inc. and the great things we’ve done at Schneck over the last 13 years.”

To the voters, Ude never once said ‘I would appreciate your vote.’

“I would tell them thank you for coming out to vote,” she said.

Nicholson said he too would give up his position as executive director of READ Jackson County/Plaza Latina and has plans for his bicycle and skate shop B2 Bikes and Boards, which he has operated for more than 16 years, to focus on serving the residents of Seymour full time.

He also will be stepping down from the District 3 city council seat, which he has held for four years.

This election was different, Nicholson said, in that he had to get out and meet voters from the whole city instead of just in his district.

It was no surprise Nicholson decided to run for mayor this year. He said it was his intentions all along when he first got into politics.

“Last time I was a political newcomer and I had no idea,” he said. “This time, being involved in politics, I just understood everything better.”

It’s that experience he believes helped win over voters.

“Experience was huge for a lot of people,” he said. “I also had a campaign slogan of being competent, consistent and caring. I think people saw that I put the effort into that.”

He has been very hands on in his campaign and getting to understand the needs of the city and its residents better, even spending time out in the field with different departments to gain an understanding of their jobs.

He plans to take a week to 10 days off to recoup from all the work of campaigning and then start working on his general election plan.

“It doesn’t end,” he said. “We’ll sit down and start on the next step.”

Nicholson had just two words for people who voted for him, but he repeated it often.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said. “It’s an emotional roller coaster. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the citizens and voters.”

He also said he plans to sit down with everybody in the mayoral race this year to learn what people responded to so he knows what he needs to do in November.

“It’s not my town, it’s our town,” he said.

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Seymour mayoral race


Tyler Henkle;23

Jim "Mike" Kelly;103

Rexanne Ude;543


Bridey Jacobi;244

Tom Joray;220

Matt Nicholson;593

Nathan Otte;199

Matt Rowe;238