11/09/05 — Eight write-ins tapped for mayor

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Eight write-ins tapped for mayor

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 9, 2005 1:51 PM

Residents of Eureka don't spend thousands of dollars on political campaigns. There are no television commercials endorsing candidates, no signs from supporters lining front lawns and certainly no debate between contenders.

In fact, the man who will serve as the town's new mayor, Stephen Howell, wasn't even on the ballot. Neither were the two new commissioners, Billy Martin and Wayne Taylor.

Actually, no one's name appeared on the ballots.

When mayoral and council elections approach, all town residents have a shot at victory. Simply write in your neighbor, father, teacher or friend, and by the end of the night, one will hold Eureka's high seats.

By 7 p.m. Tuesday, 45 voters had written in their favorites.

Mamie Chase worked at United Methodist Church Tuesday afternoon and assisted those who came out to cast their ballot. With 30 minutes remaining until the polls closed, Mrs. Chase said she didn't expect any more voters to arrive, but was pleased with the turnout.

"We're excited," she said. "We weren't even expecting this many to vote."

If Mrs. Chase's prediction came true, the last ballot was cast by former Eureka Police Chief Rick Guthrie, a few minutes before the 7:30 deadline.

Guthrie said he knows the town and those who live there well and voted for the person he felt would best represent Eureka. He added that during his time as a resident of the town, he doesn't remember any campaigning, probably because people know each other so well.

"It's not hard to keep up with people here," he said. "I know most of them."

Of the handful of staff on hand, none had a clue who the winner would be. Marie Bass, mother of the incumbent Mayor Randy Bass, said the winners are always a mystery, even to the people who end up with the most votes.

This year, 33 people had the same man in mind for mayor, Stephen Howell. Howell received 73 percent of 45 total votes.

In the other town contest, Billy Martin and Wayne Taylor were elected commissioners. Martin received 34 votes and Taylor finished the night with 26.

None of the winners could be reached for comment Tuesday.