PORTAGE — Democrat Sue Lynch pulled ahead late in a tight race Tuesday night to unseat Republican Mayor John Cannon.
It will be a return to the office for Lynch, who had served as mayor for a couple of weeks following former Republican Mayor James Snyder's federal conviction in February on bribery and tax obstruction charges.
Lynch had taken over the city's top job by virtue of her position as city council president.
"We both worked very hard to win our race," Lynch said.
She said her edge came in remaining focused and having a strong team.
Her victory was part of a Democratic sweep in the city, including all seven seats on the city council and the clerk-treasurer's office.
"It'a great day for Portage Democrats," she said.
"I am running for mayor because it is time to bring fiscal responsibility, honesty, integrity and transparency back to our city," Lynch had said. "It is time to put politics aside and work for all citizens. Now more than ever we need a person with leadership skills and experience working with our business community, our schools, our employees and our citizens. After eight long years of negative headlines it is time to move forward and create a positive image for our city."
Lynch was replaced as mayor at the start of March by Cannon, who was voted in by Republican precinct officials to finish Snyder's term.
Lynch said her top goals include getting the city's finances in order in the wake of "living 'paycheck to paycheck,' spending money that was not budgeted for, and running our city into debt."
She also intends to focus on downtown development by updating the city's 11-year-old master plan to create a "new, shared vision."
Infrastructure improvements are also a priority, including "the west side of our city, a plan we develop and stick to, without going over budget," she said.
Lynch is a retired office manager from Calumet Park Cemetery and had served as executive director of the nonprofit environmental organization People Against Hazardous Landfill Sites.
She has served on the Portage City Council since 2008 and had held other local elected offices.
Lynch also is a member of the Portage Historical Society, several veterans groups, the Indiana Sheriff's Association and the Police Memorial Fund that assists widows of fallen officers.
She is chairwoman of the Mayor's Senior Advisory Committee and the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction Board. Lynch is an active member of St. Peter Lutheran Church.
Lych said what sets her apart from her opponent is her 12 years on the city council.
"I am able to converse and communicate well with our business community, our county officials and our state legislators," she said. "I know how to manage people and budgets."
"I am a consensus builder and believe there is no 'I' in team," Lynch said. "There will be no room for politics in my administration."