Three candidates seeking to become first female mayor of Evansville

Three candidates seeking to become first female mayor of Evansville
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:17 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2023 at 8:50 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For the first time in Evansville’s history, a woman may be elected mayor.

As of now, the only three candidates on the ballot are all women: Natalie Rascher, Stephanie Terry and Cheryl Musgrave.

14 News sat down with Rascher and Terry to talk about what this means to them, and get their thoughts on being a part of history.

“It hasn’t sunk in completely,” Terry said.

“I’m right there with you,” Rascher said.

In 1847, Evansville elected James Jones as its first mayor. A total of 36 mayors have led the River City over almost two centuries. All of them have been men.

Sitting Mayor Lloyd Winnecke won’t seek a fourth term. The candidates to replace him are all women, meaning in just eight months, the city will likely elect its first female mayor.

“Politics is a male-dominated arena, and it has been for many years,” Terry said. “But you’re starting to see women step up in places and spaces they never have before.”

“It’s sad that we haven’t had a female mayor yet,” Rascher said. “I want that to be a non-issue, so whenever people look at the ballot and they see two females on there, it’s nothing. It’s normal.”

[Previous story: 2 candidates removed from Evansville Mayoral race]

Seeing women on the ballot is now a reality for Evansville voters. Rascher and Terry say there are barriers to overcome because of gender.

“That’s hard, because you walk into a room and you know you’re capable, you know you’re confident and you have solutions to problems,” Rascher said. “But sometimes it feels like you’re looked at a little bit differently because you’re a woman.”

All three candidates are no strangers to the campaign trail. Musgrave is finishing her third term as a Vanderburgh County Commissioner. Terry has spent north of a decade on the Vanderburgh County Council. Rascher ran for Evansville City Council in 2019, losing by less than 20 votes.

“I’ve walked past the photographs of mayors tons of times and I’ve said to myself, ‘when will this ever change?’” Terry said. “I never realized, though, that I would possibly be that change.”

While all three candidates hope they are the one to break the barrier into the mayor’s office, Rascher and Terry say they are excited about the future of the city regardless.

“For me, it’s the visualizing,” Rascher said. “It’s going to be a female in there. Of course, we each hope it’s ourselves, but that’s okay. We’re making steps in the right direction and it’s so powerful to see.”

“I’m excited about where this community is headed with a woman leading this city,” Terry said.

Terry and Rascher say they have been mentored by successful Evansville women. Terry says she looks up to former City Councilwoman Connie Robinson, the first African American woman to serve on the council.

Rascher says she looks up to Carol McClintock, the wife of Mayor Winnecke.

“‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,’ and I think that’s what women are starting to do,” Terry said, quoting former United States Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

We offered the same opportunity to talk to Cheryl Musgrave. She and her campaign manager declined to be a part of the interview, saying Musgrave was too busy with her responsibilities as a county commissioner and being on the campaign trail.

Musgrave and Rascher are both running on the Republican side and will face off in the May 2 primary.

Terry, the only Democrat on the ballot, will have to wait until the general election in November. She’s not only seeking to become the first female mayor, but also the first mayor of color.

“In this community, we know that there’s not been a lot of African Americans in leadership roles like this,” Terry said. “To be able to carry out their legacy and be a testament to the path that they laid before me, I’m excited about it.”

We have been told Michael Daugherty, a Libertarian hopeful, has filed financial paperwork to run, but has yet to officially file for the race.