11/09/05 — Huggins stays mayorin Mount Olive

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Huggins stays mayorin Mount Olive

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 9, 2005 1:53 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A race for a seat on the Mount Olive Town Board of Commissioners ended in a tie Tuesday, with election officials having to wait until Friday's canvass to determine who the winner might be.

Incumbent Paul Smalley and challenger Hosea Manley each received 84 votes for the District 2 seat on the board.

Absentee ballots could tip the scales for either candidate. Ballots will be recounted at the canvass.

Meanwhile, Mount Olive Mayor Ruff Huggins and town commissioners Jimmy Kornegay and Ray Thompson were re-elected to two-year terms on the town board.

Two newcomers to the board were elected. Kenny Talton defeated incumbent Ora Truzy in the District 1 race, and Tom Preston defeated Billy Rivenbark in the District 3 race.

Huggins defeated challenger Gilbert Usher by a vote of 691 to 138. Write-in mayoral candidate Joy Higginbotham received one vote.

Kornegay won his third term on the board by defeating former commissioner Gene Lee 130 to 114. Thompson defeated Rick Kraft and Jessie "Jack" Faison for the at-large seat on the board. Thompson received 467 votes, Kraft 205 and Faison 139.

Kornegay said he was happy with the outcome, adding he was pleased to have Talton and Preston join the board, and that he also was glad to see some former board members back.

At a victory celebration, Kornegay said he was also glad to have the campaigning behind him.

"I'm glad the election's over with," he said taking a breath in a recliner as guests milled around. "It's been a lot of hard work in the campaign."

He pledged to continue to serve the community.

"I'll do my best to do a good job for the next two years," he said. "I feel like I owe that to the citizens for putting me in."

Huggins said voter turnout was as he expected. Local-only races usually generate about 30 percent turnout, he said.

Huggins said he is prepared to do his best for two more years.

"I'm really excited about these folks that have been providing good service to the town getting re-elected like Ray Thompson and Jimmy Kornegay, and I'm pleased Preston won. He has demonstrated he wants to serve the town. I encouraged him to run."

Preston said some people had told him he would have a tough time running against former town commissioner Rivenbark, because Rivenbark had never been defeated in a town race before. But he said he is interested in Mount Olive, and he would like to see the town grow in the right direction.

Manley said he was pleased with his race's result, even if it ended in a tie. The fact that he received enough votes to force a tie shows voters were willing to step up to the ballot box and seek a change, he said.

Smalley, who has served three, two-year terms, said the decision is in the hands of the county Board of Elections now.

"It was a surprise to me that it was a tie vote," Smalley said.