Pat Horcher claimed an election victory over embattled Wheeling Village President Dean Argiris Tuesday night.
With all but one precinct reporting, Horcher had 1,049 votes to Argiris' 899 votes, according to unofficial election tallies. Mike Kurgan trailed far behind with 142 votes in the three-way race.
Throughout the campaign, Argiris fended off criticism over use of taxpayer-funded perks and a decommissioned police SUV. Horcher said the allegations played a role in the outcome.
"I think I'd be lying if I said it was just the concerns that I surfaced," Horcher said. "There's no escaping it. It's out there."
But Horcher said he regretted the campaign was dominated by controversy, rather than policy issues.
"A lot of the stuff that bothers me that's going on is not exciting," Horcher said. "It's the detailed business stuff."
Three incumbent trustees who backed Argiris appeared headed back to the board. Incumbents Ken Brady, Mary Krueger and Mary Papantos were leading challenger and political newcomer Donald Lee Waller, who blasted the board for failing to question Argiris' spending.
Argiris and the incumbent trustees campaigned together under the slogan "Let's Keep Wheeling Rolling," touting business developments and infrastructure improvements completed during the past four years. The accomplishments include $34 million in infrastructure improvements, development of the Wheeling Town Center on Dundee Road and the village's lowest industrial vacancy rate since the Great Recession.
Still, questions into Argiris' use of taxpayer-funded perks cast a shadow over the first-term village president's re-election bid.
A Daily Herald investigation showing Argiris used a village credit card 26 times with no listed public purpose and drove a decommissioned police SUV without formal restrictions. Argiris denied using the taxpayer resources for personal gain. He returned the credit card and vehicle.
Village Manager Jon Sfondilis issued policy changes barring the village from issuing a credit card to the village president and restricting use of vehicles for elected officials.