Runoffs story too in Columbiana

After a 2.5 hour wait, results came in at City Hall on Tuesday with challenger Gregg Rushton 39 votes behind incumbent Mayor Allan Lowe, 469-430, to force a runoff. Danny Kelley, a current councilman, had 76.

“When you run against a sitting mayor and a sitting councilman, you’ve just got to assume that you’re going to have a runoff. We’ve always viewed it as a two-step process, and this is just the first step,” said Rushton from City Hall.

Lowe, who spent the evening at home with family and friends, said he is gearing up for the Oct. 7 runoff.

“I feel like we had good support. Now we just need to work harder, and I have to do a better job clearing up a lot of misinformation that was put out during the campaign,” Lowe said. “I’m going to just campaign harder and get my message out there and let everybody know about the good things that have been accomplished in the last eight years and the good things to come.”

Rushton said his campaign approach over the next six weeks would not change much.

“I’ll go out and work just as hard as I have for the last six weeks. When you start talking to people about improving the vitality of the town and just the hard numbers of the economy, that’s not something that people just reach out and grasp. That’s been an educated process,” Rushton said.

Columbiana will face a second runoff in council District 3 to fill the seat left vacated by Tim Billingsley. Former Mayor Jim Strickland collected 38.9 percent of the vote (102), while Brian Stevens had 27.5 percent (27.5) to force a runoff. Ann Sauers had 52 votes for 19.8 percent and Bruce Fryer had 36 votes for 13.7 percent.

District 1 was the tightest race in the council elections, as incumbent Frieda Abrams received 76 votes to Leslie Whiting’s 64. The council seat is still up for grabs with 28 provisional ballots still to be counted. It was unknown as for which district the provisional ballots were cast.

Stancil Handley defeated Vickie McNeal Mizzell, 105-41, in District 2, a seat left vacant by Kelley. In District 4, incumbent Tom Seale defeated William “Dee” Dill, 160-53. In District 5, Ouida Mayfield collected 115 votes, Stoney Glenn had 54 and Phillip Willis had 49.

The city council will meet at 11:45 a.m. Sept. 2 to certify the election results after the county board of registrars has counted the provisional ballots.

The runoff election will be Oct. 7.