Porterdale voters tossed out two incumbent candidates and elected a neophyte to a vacant council seat in a change election Tuesday that hinged on debates over the budget and police department and on sharp divisions in the City Council.
Former City Councilor Arline Chapman beat Mayor Bobby Hamby with 128 votes to 83. Post 1 Councilor Robert Foxworth lost to Anita Rainey and newcomer Tim Savage beat out Terry Barnes for the vacant Post 3 slot.
Incumbent Post 2 Councilor Linda Finger survived a challenge by Darlene Savage.
"They obviously wanted a change in mayor and in Post 1," Finger said. "That certainly needed to happen and I'm absolutely in favor of what voters have said."
Finger said she, Chapman, Rainey and Savage are "shakers and doers" ready to move forward immediately.
"I feel like Ms. Rainey and Ms. Chapman will do an awesome job for the city," she said. "The residents have spoken loud and clear and they want these changes."
Chapman said earlier Tuesday that she thought many voters responded to her promise to rebuild the police department, which has lost two full time positions in the last year. Hamby has said he did not think the city could afford additional police positions now with other departments short staffed and current employees furloughed four hours a week.
"I think the election was a real turnaround for Porterdale," Chapman said after the results were clear. "It was a vote for progress. I hope the citizens will be more active at their City Council meetings and feel they have a voice in what happens in their government."
Hamby sounded a gracious and conciliatory note after the tally. "I want to thank all my supporters in this race and everybody who supported me over the last 14 years," said Hamby, who has served as mayor and as a city councilor.
Tim Savage, who won the seat Chapman vacated to run for mayor, commended Barnes for running a "clean and mature race."
"Overall the community has seen a lot of hostility in the council and they want to move away from that," Savage said. "They want the city to grow up and move forward."
Darlene Savage, who is not related to Tim Savage, congratulated the winners. "I hope everybody is going to be happy with who they voted for and I wish everybody the best of luck," she said. "It's going to be difficult for anybody who gets in."
In previous interviews and in a candidate forum last month, most of the candidates agreed on the urgent need to attract businesses to the city in order to broaden the tax base and restaff the police department. Several candidates, including Chapman and Finger, stressed the importance of enforcing housing codes, especially on rental properties, to improving quality of life and the general look of the city.
Voters also approved a referendum to allow package to-go alcohol sales on Sunday by a vote of 106 to 94.