Democrat Party efforts to gain a say in Wayne Township fell by the wayside Tuesday night as Republican Jeanie Stackhouse easily turned back an inspired effort by Shari Benyousky and her Democrat team.

Stackhouse, an investigative clerk in the township office for eight years, won 72 percent of the vote.

Stackhouse was all smiles at GOP headquarters Tuesday night. She said she was nervous and excited and thrilled to win.

Benyousky, who ran an aggressive campaign and teamed up with three Democrat candidates for Wayne Township Board, questioned the need for a $1.2 million reserve fund, turning the issue into a community conversation.

Benyousky questioned whether taxpayers were paying too much into the township or not getting enough in services.

Stackhouse suggested voters rejected that concern and reiterated the need to have a financial cushion in case of an economic downturn.

“People want to know the money’s there when it’s needed. As far as this county, that means a lot. You’re not just going to spend your money on whatever comes around,” Stackhouse said.

Regardless, the township board in October voted to reduce its levy in several categories by 30 percent.

Benyousky said she knew the race was an uphill battle, but had hoped it would have been closer.

“I wish my opponent Jeanie well. She has some tough challenges ahead. I hope that she takes up the mantle to connect with the community and become a force for hope,” Benyousky said.

The 27 percent Benyousky picked up was several points better than every other Democrat on the county ballot.

Republican township board candidates claimed the top three spots among the six choices.

Results for township board were: Gordon Nash, 24 percent; Josh Spangle, 24 percent; Bruce Woodward, 23 percent; Laura Deal-Decker, 9 percent; Jim Falkiner, 9 percent; and Lori Roe, 9 percent.

Woodward’s victory came despite being repudiated by Kosciusko County Chairman Mike Ragan in response to Woodward’s decision to endorse Benyousky.

Ragan said he plans to talk with Woodward to smooth things over.

Stackhouse said she also will reach out to Woodward, saying, “It will be interesting.”

County Democrat Party Chairman Brian Smith said he was disappointed in the results, but said he was proud of the campaign waged by Benyousky and the Democrat team.

“For better or worse, residents in Wayne Township are going to get a 30 percent decrease in their property tax and I believe that’s because of Shari Benyousky,” Smith said.

“The curtain’s been pulled back on what’s going on with our townships and I think people are going to pay more attention to that level of government.”

Ragan took the township victories in stride.

“It’s what we thought and what we were hoping for. Jeanie’s a good candidate and she’ll be a good trustee,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stackhouse was asked about plans as she transitions into her new role and the need to fill the void left as she moves into a new position.

The office has two investigative clerks who work with people who are seeking financial assistance.

Stackhouse said she was unsure if she would fill the void. “I don’t know. I’m going to see. Maybe not,” Stackhouse said.