Hixon wins, search warrants executed

Published 1:45 am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Law enforcement officers wait outside River Falls town hall as the ballots are counted Tuesday night.

Moments after the incumbent River Falls mayor, Mary Hixon, was declared the victor in Tuesday’s municipal election, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant on town hall, Hixon’s home and her workplace.

The investigating agency or the purpose of the searches were not immediately clear; however, as soon as town clerk Maryann Andrews posted the results outside town hall, law enforcement, including a representative with the Covington County District Attorney’s Office, took control of the building and the other properties.

District Attorney Walt Merrell, who was at town hall for a brief moment, addressed Andrews inside the building, but declined to comment before leaving the property.

DA Walt Merrell was on hand when search warrants were executed, but would not comment on what officers were looking for or found.

According to the tape posted outside town hall, totals for the night’s election in River Falls are as follows:

• In the race for mayor, Hixon defeated Patricia Gunter, 94 to 69.

• For the district 1, place 1 seat, Cleland Harris defeated Junior Howard, 57 to 50.

• In district 1, place 2, James Gary Wages defeated longtime councilwoman Leo G. Smith by one vote, 53 to 52; and,

• In the district 1, place 3 seat, Richard Bowden defeated longtime councilman Hamner Curry 56 to 44.

In total, 167 ballots were cast in Tuesday’s election. Earlier in the day, Andrews said 175 people were registered to vote in this election, which would put voter turnout at 95 percent.

Mattie Freeney and Olene Bean, the incumbents for district 2, place 1 and 2 seats respectively, did not face opposition in this election.

For the last two months, the Town of River Falls has faced issues – first, in the form of election issues after candidates were qualified to seek office in the wrong districts, and secondly, when council members said they never authorized Hixon to sell the former town hall property on Sunnyside Street. According to court records, Hixon sold the property to Richard Moss, a man who has lived with her for more than a decade and opened a feed and seed store on the property.

The Star-News will continue to follow this story and update readers as soon as new information becomes available.