Havelock voters elected Will Lewis as the city's new mayor, according to unofficial vote totals Tuesday night.
Havelock will have a new mayor.
Will Lewis won a resounding victory over long-time incumbent Jimmy Sanders in Tuesday’s city election. With vote totals still unofficial, Lewis totaled 624 votes, while Sanders got 319.
Lewis said he worked hard for the victory.
“I’ve had meet-and-greets. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors for the last four days and talked to a lot of citizens and been in a lot of places to get in front of people,” he said. “I feel like I worked very hard for this. I worked harder on this than I did for the last two elections.”
Lewis was a two-term city commissioner who decided to seek the mayor’s seat instead of seeking re-election to the board. He will be sworn in as Havelock’s mayor in December.
“We’re going to be focused on the economic plan that we’ve already started,” Lewis said. “I’m going to immediately start with my accessibility plan, which is going to be some mayor’s office hours, getting the mayor’s calendar on the Internet where everyone can see it what the mayor is doing and where he’s at. Those kinds of things I’m going to start on immediately.
“The other things that I’ll be focused on are things I’ve been talking about all the time, protection of Cherry Point, economic diversity, making sure we have a plan for the things we want. And I also want to have a sit-down with the board and all of us talking about our expectations for each of us. We’re going to have a lot of new challenges and new people, and I think it will be good to kind of get all that aired out and find out where we’re going.”
Lewis said Sanders was a worthy opponent.
“I have an immense amount of respect for Jimmy and I’ve said that the whole time,” Lewis said. “Jimmy’s done great things for the city. I believe that it is time for my style of leadership to be in charge of the city. I’m glad that I’ve won, but I greatly appreciate all that Jimmy has done for the city.”
Sanders said the voice of the people was clear.
“I got beat. It’s pretty simple, but you know, you hang around as long as I did you are going to make a lot of people mad. Life goes on,” said Sanders, who was seeking a third consecutive term as mayor. “On the positive side, I have no more worries or pressures or concerns. I can enjoy my grandchildren and that’s what I intend to do.”
Lewis said he has learned a great deal from watching Sanders as mayor for the last two terms.
“The way to run a meeting formally, I would have had no clue,” Lewis said. “Jimmy’s been my only man for eight years, so everything I’ve learned about handling all of that I’ve learned from Jimmy and I’ll figure the rest out as I go.”
For the two open commissioner seats, incumbent Jim Stuart was re-elected and newcomer Brenda Wilson will take a seat on the board.
“I’m excited. All day today, to talk to people, to hear what their city needs and to be one of those people helping this city grow, is exciting,” said Wilson. “I had my mama and I had my son and my husband and so we just turned it into a family affair because this is our home. This is our home town and we want to take care of Havelock.”
Wilson, a newcomer to city politics, received the most votes at 518. Stuart received 379 to win a third term on the board.
“I’m gratified. I worked real hard,” he said. “I’m normally just being myself and let the chips fall. Brenda is, of course, the new person. She got a lot of votes. She’s got a good personality and she’s very smart, so we should work very well together.”
Peter Van Vliet finished third in the commissioners race with 350, followed by George Corbin with 301 and Matthew “Sugarbear” Jones at 183.
“It was a very good learning experience for me and I just really appreciate everyone coming out to help support me,” said Van Vliet, running for commissioner for the first time. “I just hope that I can maintain that support so that when it comes to stepping up to this plate again I can depend on them.”
Corbin was seeking election for the second time.
“Everybody worked hard and the people picked out who they wanted,” he said. “Everybody worked for it and the people came out and voted.”
During the campaign, Jones promised to represent the people, not special interests.
“I‘m going to have to get more people to come out to vote and voice their opinion in order to get a seat,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to do all this stuff by yourself.”
Chief Judge Lillian Creger, of the Havelock East Precinct, said there were no glitches in the machinery at that precinct and voting went smoothly.
Chief Judge Barb Whiteman, at the Havelock West Precinct, said there were no issues with voting machinery; however some voters complained that the polling place had changed from the auditorium to a side room off the gymnasium, causing some to have to make an extra walk to place their vote.
“I’m just happy for change and for improvements, something different than the last 30 years,” said voter Terry Morton.
Of 8,716 registered voters in Havelock, 950 voted for a voter turnout of 10.9 percent.
“I came and voted for mayor,” said Deborah Shirk. “I think they needed to get a younger mayor and get some more businesses to come into Havelock. I work in real estate. I just think we needed some changes. We need some more restaurants and I want so see Havelock grow.”
Mark Wood said he wanted new people to represent the city.
“The reason I voted was because I think we need a change,” he said. “I think the present board is getting stagnant. The people in there need to go. We need fresher people.”