Incumbent Ward 4 Councilman Fred Stewart sat in the foyer of the Municipal Complex Tuesday night, calmly greeting his family, friends and supporters.
Although many had come to Stewart’s side to offer their condolences, Stewart smiled and said, “This isn’t over yet.”
In the city courtroom and less than 50 feet from where Stewart sat, Ward 4 councilman candidate Marty Turner hugged his supporters and beamed with the excitement of someone who had just defeated a longtime public servant. Turner had just been informed he had received the most votes in Tuesday’s primary election, sweeping Maurice Webber and defeating Stewart by more than 80 votes.
But then the absentee ballots were counted in Ward 4 and, to paraphrase Stewart, “it wasn’t over yet.”
Stewart and Turner will once again be on the ballot in a Ward 4 runoff election Tues., May 21.
After a considerable lead, the split between Turner and Stewart was diminished to eight votes after poll workers spent more than two hours counting the absentee ballots.
Stewart had 363 votes to Turner’s 371. Webber only received 36 votes.
Turner, who was holding court with every reporter in the building during his premature victory celebration, was at a loss for words after the more than two-hour ordeal.
“I hope it’s not business as usual. I hope after the elections, we can get together and we can come up with a plan on how we are going to conduct business over the next four years.”
– Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, who was elected to a second term
“I guess it’s time for us to get back to work,” Turner said as he exited the Municipal Complex with his campaign staff.
The absentee ballot results were the end of a long day for Ward 4 candidates and voters, a day that included officers with the Columbus Police Department being dispatched to the Hunt Museum precinct. According to Turner, the police were dispatched in regards to some of his supporters wearing Marty Turner t-shirts and having campaign signs too close to the precinct. No arrests were made.
The CPD was also dispatched to the Union Academy voting precinct in Ward 5 around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Several units, including Chief Selvain McQueen, arrived at Union in regards to an alleged fight between incumbent Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem and his opponent, Kenneth McFarland. According to McQueen, there was a verbal argument between the candidates but no physical altercation.
Karriem handily defeated McFarland 490 votes to 269 votes.
“I want to thank all of the voters of Ward 5 for entrusting me to serve them for another four years,” Karriem said Wednesday. “This is an historical moment because for twenty years, it’s been back and forth. I am the first to be re-elected to serve two consecutive terms in Ward 5. I really do appreciate the voters.”
Karriem said he hopes to see some changes in the next four years.
“I hope it’s not business as usual,” Karriem said. “I hope after the elections, we can get together and we can come up with a plan on how we are going to conduct business over the next four years. I want to come up with a strategic plan to increase sales tax. I also want us to work together to make sure all of the wards are equally represented as far as infrastructure goes. If you look at Main Street, it’s beautiful. But if you turn right or left and drive a few blocks you can see we have some problems. I also want to work with law enforcement agencies to make sure we have a safe city.”
In Ward 6 incumbent Bill Gavin defeated Columbus Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Trustees member Whirllie Byrd in a landslide, 530 votes to 136 votes.
“I want to thank the voters of Ward 6 for showing up and helping me achieve such an overwhelming victory,” Gavin said on Wednesday. “Voter apathy is growing across the country, and I certainly appreciate all who showed up Tuesday. I will spend the next four years working hard for the citizens of Ward 6 and all of the residents of Columbus.”