Teenager falls short in bid to become Montezuma’s next mayor
Eighteen-year-old Montezuma mayoral candidate Benjamin Goff didn’t get the result he wanted — he lost Tuesday’s election — but the high school senior says he’s taking his first political defeat in stride and hopes his run will inspire other young people to get involved.
“Well, you know, it’s what happens,” he said Wednesday morning during a free period between his welding and algebra classes at Summit High School. “You have winners and people who don’t win. I’m not sad, but I’m a little disappointed, obviously.”
Goff said he decided to run because he wanted to improve lasting divisions after the controversial election of April 2016, in which allegations of voter fraud marred the vote and then-town clerk Helen Moorman filed suit against every one of Montezuma’s 61 registered voters that year to try to certify the results.
This year’s election went much more smoothly, said now-town clerk Tanya Becker, adding that she doesn’t know of any challenges, complaints or irregularities with the ballot.
“It went very peacefully,” she said. “It was a pleasant and happy day.”
The election featured seven candidates vying for four seats on the board of trustees and two running for mayor.
The winner of the mayor’s race, incumbent Lesley Davis, secured another term after receiving 38 votes compared to 13 for Goff. For the board, Levi Corrigan, Michelle Farrell, Jay Davis and Jeremy Conant all won seats.
Corrigan led the way with 36 votes while the other three winners finished in a three-way tie with 34 votes each. According to deputy town clerk Nick Beato, a recount was conducted Wednesday morning, and it produced exactly the same numbers.
Running unsuccessfully were Dan Maynard (22 votes), Molly Hood (19 votes) and Paul Hinkley (14 votes).
The Summit Daily reached out to Davis for comment Wednesday via email, but received an automatic response from her account explaining she is recovering from “a very unfortunate ski accident,” in which she broke her tibia and fibula in eight places and had to undergo immediate surgery.
Still, Becker said Davis stopped by the polls in a walker on Tuesday because “she was determined” to cast her vote.
While this year’s election was a welcome departure from the chaos of April 2016, it wasn’t entirely without controversy, as Goff said he woke up Wednesday morning to discover one of his campaign signs had been vandalized overnight.
Someone apparently spray-painted the word “LOSER” over a sign at the family’s home that originally read, “Mayor Benjamin,” he believes sometime after the polls closed Tuesday.
Goff said he doesn’t plan on reporting the alleged act of vandalism to authorities because they already have enough to worry about, but he still feels like it validated his reasons for running.
“The sign just kind of proves the town is split in half,” Goff said. “It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s enough of a statement to show that, yes, what I am saying is true and there is division in the town.”
While the spray-painted sign left Goff “a little ticked off,” he remains upbeat about running for mayor.
“It was fun, and I really enjoyed it,” he said of the campaign. “All the interviews and stuff, I think it’s great experience for college and later in life when I’m applying for jobs.”
Goff also said he enjoyed making campaign signs and meeting voters. He also liked sitting down with the sheriff, he said, and finding “mutual support” within the law enforcement agency.
“Even though I didn’t get the results I wanted, it was still a fun experience and I’m just going to move forward from it,” Goff said.
Furthermore, he hopes his efforts will inspire other young people to get politically involved themselves.
“I hope this encourages people my age to step up and have their voices be heard,” he said. “Even if you don’t get the result you want, you live in a country where you have the right to do so, and that’s what makes this such a great place.”