Hawnethia Williams gave a yell of delight as the election results came in and she was once again voted in as the Covington City Council Post 2 West representative.
"It’s a relief. I thank the Lord for bringing me to this point and giving me the strength to carry on," said Williams, who was so exited she had to pause to catch her breath. "I want to thank all of my supporters, constituents, community, friends and family… I’m going to continue working on things I’ve been working on and complete what I started."
Around 20 people were gathered in the Newton County Administration Building as the results came up on the big screen. Mayor Kim Carter congratulated Williams on her victory and fellow Councilwoman Ocie Franklin, who ran uncontested for Post 3 West, celebrated along with Williams.
According to Tuesday night’s unofficial election results, Williams once again beat Charles Wilborn by a vote of 257 to 157. The result was similar to the 2005 election, when Williams first unseated Wilborn, who had been on the city council for 14 years. That year's result was 239 to 157 in favor of Williams.
Wilborn sat in silence for a few minutes in the back of the room before slowly getting up to walk out. As he was leaving, he and Williams shared a hand shake.
"That’s life. A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits," said Wilborn, eyes glistening. "I’m an honest person and I’m planning on running again because people deserve to have the best, and I’m the best."
Many expected the race to be highly contested, and the margin of victory surprised some of the onlookers afterwards.
Williams said she put on a campaign blitz, working non-stop over the past week. She estimated that she and her campaign team went to around 2,600 houses and apartments.
However, the voter turnout was lower than previous years. According to election official Hugh Steele, there were around 6,000 registered voters this year, compared to 4,919 in 2005.
Newton Electric Supply Co-Owner Chris Smith will take over the Post 1 East seat held by John Howard, who is retiring after 16 years on the council. Smith ran unopposed and said previously he is excited about the opportunity ahead.
In Mansfield, the three incumbents up for election ran unopposed. Post 3 is held by Lyra Cocchi, Post 4 is held by Larry Haigwood and Post 5 is held by Larry Cummins.
In an upset win, Roger Sheridan defeated incumbent J.W. Cummings and city councilman James King to become Newborn’s mayor.
Sheridan received 47 votes, more than Cummings (26) and King (20) combined.
Also in Newborn, Martha Ellwanger overcame incumbent Wanda Cummings for the Post 4 Town Council seat. Ellwanger received 56 votes to Cummings’ 31. With her and Sheridan’s win, Newborn will have a totally new council in 2010.
Sheridan, Ellwanger and Gene Downs, Post 1, John Donaldson, Post 2, Tom Kreiger, Post 3, all campaigned together and ran on a platform of increasing citizen participation in city government. Downs, Donaldson and Krieger all ran unopposed.
"We will get people involved. We’ll call people, talk to people, go out and visit people. When people have concerns and complaints we’ll have them come to the council meetings and bring up the issues," Sheridan said previously.
Newborn will begin using staggered terms next year. Downs and Donaldson will serve two-year terms, while Sheridan, Kreiger and Ellwanger will serve four-year terms. Councilwoman Suzanne Bean said she was not running because she wanted to spend more time with her ill, elderly parents, and she said Councilman Dennis Fincher also did not run because of time constraints.
Of the 346 registered voters in Newborn, 95 voted in the election including four absentee ballots.
In a landslide win, Sue Dale was elected to the Oxford City Council. Dale received 115 votes and Tillie Mitchell, who was running against her for the same post, received 40. Of those votes, 14 were absentee and 142 were in-house.
Neither Dale nor Mitchell could be reached for comment but Dale had said previously that "As a rookie, I hope to bring a fresh perspective to the city council. I hope to lend my energy and enthusiasm to help the mayor and the city council bring their current plans to fruition."
Oxford Post 5 Councilman James Windham and Post 6 Councilman Terry Smith ran unopposed.
Lowell Chambers has secured the Porterdale Post 5 seat with nearly 87 percent of the vote. Chambers beat Andy Grimes, who had around 13 percent of the vote with seven of 53 voting for him.
Chambers, who took office six months ago to serve the remainder of former councilwoman Kay Piper’s term after she resigned her post, campaigned on stricter code enforcement in the city. He said one of the town’s biggest problems was that the council had to let go of a fulltime code enforcement officer because of the ailing economy. Currently, other departments are trying to keep up with the city’s code enforcement.
"I think as quickly as we can get some more stability in our budget that needs to be a priority," said Chambers of restoring a fulltime code enforcement position.
The 53 Porterdale residents who cast their votes in this election account for around 6 percent of the active and inactive 892 voters registered in the city.
Votes were cast on paper ballots and placed in wooden boxes that were locked until after the polls closed. Head poll worker Bobby Jack Savage read the results aloud for those assembled to hear them.
"I look forward to four years of looking out for the citizens of Porterdale," Chambers said after hearing the results. "I’m optimistic about the future and I think good days are ahead."
Arline Chapman ran unopposed for Post 3 as did Mike Harper for the Post 4 seat. Wayne Maddox received one write-in vote for Post 3 and Vicky Maddox received one write-in vote for Post 4.
No absentee or provisional ballots were cast in Porterdale.
Finally, in Social Circle, District 1 incumbent Traysa Price ran unopposed, and current District 3 Councilman David Keener, who took over the position from his father-in-law who passed away, also ran unopposed.
On the Social Circle School Board, three candidates ran unopposed. Tim Lemonds ran for chairman, he is currently vice-chairman. Incumbent Anthony Hooks ran for the District 2 seat, and incumbent Dan Chisholm ran for the District 4 seat.
~ Amber Pittman, Tyler Smith and Jennifer T. Long contributed to this story. These election results are incomplete and unofficial until approved by the Secretary of State's Office.