Incumbent earns 2nd term in District 1
In a Statesboro city council race that was up for grabs on the final day, incumbent councilman Tommy Blitch has been reelected for a third term in District 1.
Blitch said he was a bit disappointed by the low voter turnout, but that he and his family were happy with the result of the election.
“It feels good and I want to thank the constituents in District 1 for putting me in for four more years,” Blitch said. “I'll do as I said — I'll be honest, I'll have commonsense and I'll apply it like I have for the past eight years in council.”
Blitch escaped a run-off with challengers William Thomas and Benji Lewis by capturing 170 of the 314 votes cast, or 54 percent. Thomas managed 80 votes (25.5 percent) while Lewis followed closely behind with 63 votes (20.1 percent). With only 73 votes cast during early voting, the race was wide-open on Election Day.
Despite the loss, Lewis said he would be more involved in city council and what's going on in his district and in Statesboro.
“I'm disappointed but I'm happy at the same time,” Lewis said. “I want to thank all the people that supported me and came out to vote for me. It's been a learning experience, a valued experience and I have no regrets.”
Thomas said he wasn't prepared to make an official comment on the results on Tuesday evening because he hadn't seen the results in writing but said he appreciated those who supported him.
“I think that the people of Statesboro are wonderful and I sure do enjoy their company,” Thomas said. “I had a ball.”
Blitch said he has some very specific plans for his first day as councilman-elect.
“I'm going to start taking down signs - you put 'em up, then you take 'em down.”
Political newcomer wins seat in District 4
In a Statesboro City Council race that was arguably swayed by the early voter turnout of Georgia Southern students, political newcomer John Riggs was elected to his first term as councilman representing District 4.
With family and friends nearby, Riggs said he was pleased with the results of the election.
“It feels great. Thank you to all my supporters and to all the citizens who came out and voted,” Riggs said. “I want to thank my opponents for a spirited but clean race. It's been a long hard race and I'm relieved that it's over. I can't wait to serve.”
Riggs defeated fellow newcomers Lottie Johnson and Fred Parrish for the District 4 seat by capturing 245 of a possible 321 votes cast, or 76.3 percent. Johnson and Parrish both had similar results in the district with Johnson grabbing 41 votes (12.8 percent) and Parrish securing 35 votes (10.9 percent).
Mayor Pro-tem and current District 4 councilman Joe Brannen, who ran unopposed for the mayoral seat, received 592 out of a possible 663 votes cast citywide, or 89.3 percent. Just under 11 percent of votes cast for mayor - 71 votes - were for various write-in candidates.
Brannen said it feels good to know he's now officially the mayor of Statesboro for the next four years and hopes that the citizens who cast write-in votes can support his term in office.
“It unfolded quite differently than what I thought it would be when I qualified for the mayor's seat - winding up unopposed,” Brannen said. “I want to thanks all the citizens who came out and voted. I'll be working hard for them while I'm in office.”
Parrish said he's not ecstatic with the results of the elections, but said he wasn't disappointed either.
“I feel good as far as the campaign is concerned,” Parrish said. “Nobody got upset, nobody got agitated - we stayed out of everybody's way, we paid our money and took our chances - that's politics.”
Johnson said she had mixed emotions about the result and the voter turnout, but said she would continue to be vocal about the issues that are important to her and her neighbors.
“I want to say thank you very much to those who had faith in me,” Johnson said. “I thought we'd carry more (votes) than that but I guess people were too lazy to go to the polls.”
Riggs said he hopes to have a good working relationship with the council and his constituents and also said he is ready to dive in to the job of city councilman.
“I'll do my best to make Statesboro the best family-friendly, business-friendly, visitor-friendly, industry-friendly, retiree-friendly, student-friendly, and kid-friendly hometown in Georgia,” said Riggs. “I ask everybody for their help, opinions and suggestions to help accomplish that goal.”