Following a fascinating election night

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, September 4, 2012

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

Although I no longer cover Vincent regularly for the Shelby County Reporter, on Aug. 28, municipal election night, I returned to report on the election.

When I arrived, it was just past 7:30 p.m. The polls had closed at 7 p.m., and a large contingent of Vincent’s citizens was outside Town Hall, waiting to see who would lead their town for the next four years.

They gathered in groups on either side of the parking lot and stretched out in folding chairs. Although Vincent is one of our smallest towns in Shelby County, that night showed me some of the most citizen interest I have seen in an election anywhere.

As the minutes ticked by, the speculation grew louder. Incumbent Mayor Ray McAllister let me know when it looked like the poll workers were finishing up, and I took my place by the window where they would post the final numbers.

Moments later, a poll worker stuck two pieces of ticker tape to the window — one for the absentee ballots and one for the precinct ballots. A loud cheer went up, and bodies crushed around me to read the results. Several people lit up their iPhones to use as flashlights, the better to see the numbers with.

McAllister, who was directly next to me, was double- and triple-checking the numbers. He ended up besting his challenger, Joey Cobb, by a scant 24 votes — and once he realized he had won, this typically calm man allowed himself a loud, “All right!” in celebration.

Meanwhile, on my other side, Bridgette Jordan-Smith, the incumbent and winner for District 2, let out several declarative yells of “The town of Vincent has spoken!”

After that, it was back to business for the mayor, and he detailed his plan for the next four years — bring more grant money to the town, work on improving roads, update the master plan for the city park and improve the city’s fire service.

I was impressed, too, by the grace shown by Joey Cobb. It could not have been an easy defeat for him — especially considering how close it was — but he congratulated McAllister on his win and thanked his own supporters. As an aside, I asked if he would consider running again. Thoughtfully, he said it would depend on where the town of Vincent finds itself four years from now. He also mentioned that there is still a deep divide among the town’s citizens.

Before I left, I bumped into Jordan-Smith and stopped to congratulate her on her win. She shook my hand and then held it for a few moments, saying, “Amy, tell them from me that the town of Vincent has spoken. Hopefully, we can mend this town as one together, for the betterment of our citizens.”

I hope so, too. Vincent is a town filled with passionate citizens who love their little slice of land. If that boundless energy can be harnessed, anything can happen. This mayor and city council has four years to make this happen. They better get to work.

Amy Jones is the Associate Editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 30 or by email at