This time, Odell victorious
Odell defeated Alan Schneider by a 62 percent to 37 percent margin of victory Tuesday to become Putnam's first woman chief executive.
The tally for victory was 9,462 votes for Odell to 5,700 ballots for Schneider.
At her campaign headquarters in Carmel where some 200 supporters gathered to celebrate the victory, Odell first thanked County Executive Paul Eldridge for "keeping such stability and outstanding leadership. He was the perfect choice last January when our county experienced one of its darkest hours. Paul's leadership has been incredible this year."
Last November, former State Senator Vincent Leibell was elected county executive but never served a day in office after resigning. Leibell later pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and is currently serving time in federal prison.
Odell described herself as a county executive who "lives like the rest of us. I live paycheck to paycheck. I grocery shop at the local market. I send my kids off to schools that my husband and I can afford. I worry about the high cost of home fuel oil."
The new executive promised that she would be hands on: "I want my constituents to visit regularly. The door on the third floor of the County Office Building will always be open. Stop me in the grocery store or on the bike path and let me know what you think in order to make our county a better place in which to live, work and raise a family."
She thanked her parents, husband and children and "all the others who stuck by me last year and worked hard for my campaign this year. We were above board from Day One. No nastiness just a clean message that Putnam can be better and we will keep that promise."
Schneider described his entry into the race as a "learning experience. It was good getting out and meeting the people—people with all the same concerns—a safe place to live, good schools and low taxes. The campaign centered on philosophies of achieving those goals not on political beliefs of the Republican, Democratic and Conservative parties. I wish Mrs. Odell well."
The evening was extra special for the Odell family since the county executive's parents, Muriel and Ronald Hicks, celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary Nov.8.
Ron Hicks called the day "our best anniversary present ever. This is a proud day for the Hicks family and a proud day for the Odell family. Today marks a new day for Mary Ellen and even a greater day for the people of Putnam County."
The new executive made her first appointment naming Bruce Walker as her Deputy County Executive.
Raising his fist in victory, Walker said he was thrilled for Odell and her team: "They have done a wonderful job and I look forward towards working with our constituents in the days, weeks, months and years to come."