by Mac Trammell and Katie Wildes
In the first highly contested city council race in years, Buena Vista voters have voted on six candidates to fill three council seats, and elected Council Member Larry Tolley, unopposed, as mayor.
Steve Baldridge, Lisa Clark, and Bill Fitzgerald maintain the lead for city council. Voting was not complete by the end of the evening, and officials say results were confirmed at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Currently, Baldridge is on top with 529 votes, according to the count at City Hall. Clark followed with 524, and then Fitzgerald with 448.
Conceding defeat for the council, Mayor Frankie Hogan said: “If that’s what the people decided they wanted then that’s the way it’s going to be. It’s nothing to feel bad about or happy about or anything else. It’s just what the citizens want.”
Current city council member Tolley’s spot is a fourth position on the council that will be vacated and up to city council appointment as he will take office as mayor. This appointment will be discussed in the City Council meeting Thursday night.
Claiming victory as mayor, Tolley said: “I’m very optimistic. There are many positives happening in the city that we can expand upon. My whole focus will be on situating the positive and addressing the negative in the best manner we can. We’ve got a good group of council. It’s a cohesive group that works together for the good of the citizens and I look forward to working with each and every one of them.”
Clark and Baldridge said they were interested to see what will be done to fill Tolley’s seat when he becomes mayor in January. The two said they hope applicants will come forward to serve, even among those who ran Tuesday and lost.
The appointed position will be held until the next election in November 2016. The interim position will be available upon appointment.
The registrar’s office said that there are about 3,860 registered voters in Buena Vista. Of those, the registrar’s office estimated that anywhere from 700-1,000 would show up to vote.
Hogan put the guess at about 800, saying the estimated turnout was disappointing although he acknowledged the low turnout numbers are typical on off-off election years.