NORTH VERNON — After nearly a quarter century, a Republican mayor will lead North Vernon.

And, he’ll work with a Republican majority on the North Vernon City Council. The GOP won three of five seats, breaking a long Democratic majority.

GOP candidate Mike Ochs defeated Democrat Matt Hurley on Tuesday in the city election for mayor.

“The people have just been upset. They have been upset about several things, and they decided it was time for a change. We need the change. That is the same reason I decided to run for mayor,” Ochs said.

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Ochs will succeed Harold “Soup” Campbell, who decided against seeking a third consecutive term as mayor. Ochs will take office Jan. 1.

“When Soup was the sheriff I served under him, so I know he is a good man. But he is leaving as the mayor, and we find the town in a difficult time with many challenges ahead,” Ochs said.

Ochs won the mayoral race by just 18 votes. As the votes in each precinct were counted, the lead switched back and forth several times between the candidates.

“I was born and raised here. This town is my home, so what happens here is important to me. I want to help make this a better place for all of us to live,” said Ochs, who has worked for the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department as a courthouse safety officer.

Ochs said he has a good team of advisers assembled and plans to ask for their guidance, and will keep an open door for suggestions from the public.

Hurley, a Duke Energy employee, said the race was a nail-biter, as he and supporters watched the final vote tallies at Democratic headquarters.

“It is a disappointment, but Ochs will have my support,” Hurley said. “I am glad I made the effort to run for mayor.”

Republican Jack Kelley, Brian Hatfield and Jerry Lamb prevailed. Kelley beat Democratic incumbent David Shaw in the District 1 race. Hatfield, the District 4 incumbent, retained his seat against Democrat Bobby Sterns. Lamb won the at-large seat against Democrat Allane Colbert.

Democrat Trent Wisner was unopposed in District 2 and Democratic incumbent Connie Rayburn retained her seat against Republican challenger Baron Wilder in District 3.

City election results

North Vernon general election results:


Mike Ochs, R; 697

Matt Hurley, D; 679


R. Shawn Gerkin, D; 991

no other candidate

City Council At-Large

Jerry A. Lamb, R; 847

Allane Colbert, D; 525

City Council District 1

Jack Kelley, R; 738

David D. Shaw, D; 629

City Council District 2

Tent Wisner, D; 939

No other candidate

City Council District 3

Connie Rayburn, D; 711

Baron Wilder, R; 659

City Council District 4

Brian Hatfield, R; 765

Bobby Stearns, D; 590