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Voters shake up town ranks

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News / May 20, 2020
Incumbent officeholders in South Hill and Chase City had a rough day at the polls Tuesday as voters made their picks in town municipal elections.

In Chase City, incumbent mayor Eddie Bratton lost his re-election bid to newcomer Alden Fahringer, and first-time candidates for Chase City Town Council claimed two of the three seats up for grabs.

In South Hill, Mayor Dean Marion fended off a challenge by Stuart Taylor to win another four-year term, but town voters shook up the Council ranks, electing three challengers and denying the re-election hopes of two incumbents.

Five of Mecklenburg’s towns — Boydton, Chase City, Clarksville, La Crosse and South Hill — held municipal elections on Tuesday, but only Chase City and South Hill featured contested races.

In the Chase City mayoral election, Fahringer garnered 138 votes, a 54 percent share. Bratton received 119 votes, for 46 percent.

The retirement of Council member Lisa Gillispie opened the door for at least one new member of the town’s governing board. Instead, Chase City voters choose two first-time candidates, Pauline Keeton and Michelle Wilson.

Keeton topped the ticket with 169 votes, 25 percent of the total. She was followed by Michelle Wilson with 144 votes, a 22 percent share. Incumbent Council member Marshall “Tommy” Whitaker received 135 votes, or 20 percent. The top three finishers begin their term on Council starting July 1.

Incumbent Charles Willis came in fourth was fourth with 128 votes, or 19 percent. First time-challenger Henry Davis finished fifth in the race with 94 votes, a 14 percent share.

South Hill where voting was heaviest. Marion was easily re-elected to a second term, earning 308 votes compared to 243 for Taylor, the current chair of the South Hill Planning Commission.

It was a close race among the five candidates vying for three seats on the South Hill Town Council. School Board Chair and business owner Gavin Honeycutt ran first with 134 votes. He was followed by Shep Moss, head of the Shops of South Hill, with 123 votes. Taking the third Council seat was another first-time candidate, local attorney Joseph E. Taylor.

Two incumbents, Glenn Allen and Lisa Jordan, were unseated after earning 105 and 86 votes, respectively.

Honeycutt and Moss ran together as a ticket, vowing to bring change to Town Hall, with each candidate raising questions about town policies and the management style of Town Manager Kim Callis.

Millie Bracey, who’d served on South Hill Town Council for more than 20 years after a stint on the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors, will be stepping down at the end of her term June 30.

Delores Luster, who represents Ward 1 on the Council, was unopposed in her re-election bid. She received 57 votes.

There were no contested races on the ballot in Boydton, Clarksville and La Crosse, but with some town officeholders choosing not to run for re-election, voters put some new faces into office.

In Boydton, Mayor John M. Kirkland and Council members T.G. “Tinker” Gill, William R. “Bill” Thompson and David Miller Crowder were all returned to office. None had competition in their races.

Clarksville elected one new member to Town Council, Tammy Brankley Mulchi. She replaces Loretta Harris, who stepped down after less than one term on Council, Mulchi joins incumbent Council members Bruce E. Woerner and Edward M. “Mike” Sizemore. Also re-elected in Clarksville was incumbent Mayor Kevin S. Allgood. All four candidates were unopposed.

La Crosse elected a new mayor, William H. “Billy” Gill. He replaces Tom Tanner, who stepped down earlier this year after winning a seat on the board of supervisors. Gill had been serving as acting mayor and was unopposed. Returning to Council, also unopposed, are Michael T. Clark, Joseph L. “Joe” Young, and David O. Williams. They are joined by Joseph E. Curtis who takes over for Gill on Council. Curtis, like the others, had no opposition.

General Registrar Jason Corwin thanked poll workers “for their extraordinary efforts” on Tuesday in what turned out to be heavy voting for local elections in both Chase City and South Hill.

“Four years ago, the total votes cast in South Hill’s mayoral and council races was 462. This year there were 551 votes cast, 310 of them on Tuesday despite the weather and the potential fear of the COVID-19 virus,” Corwin said. Another 200 people cast in- person ballots in Chase City on Tuesday. Corwin said he was expecting almost no one to vote at the polling location in Chase City on Tuesday, based on past elections.

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