Monroes former police chief, Debra Duncan, was the top vote-getter Tuesday for City Council, and her apparent win would tilt the balance of power away from some of her loudest critics on the board.
Three council seats and the mayors job were up for grabs, giving voters the opportunity to determine who will control a city council that often is at odds with itself. The contentious board is frequently split 4-3.
Im very excited, Duncan said. I think the voters of Monroe are ready for a change, and Im ready to go to work.
Three people ran for mayor while eight sought the council seats.
In unofficial returns, with all 15 precincts reporting, Mayor Bobby Kilgore looked to be heading to an easy re-election with 55 percent of the vote, turning away challengers City Councilman Lynn Keziah and Kyle Hayes. The job is a two-year post.
Council seats are four-year jobs. Incumbents John Ashcraft, Margaret Desio and Freddie Gordon all sought re-election. Along with with Keziah, they comprise the majority of votes on the seven-member board for now.
Duncan appeared to secure enough votes to win a seat, with nearly 21 percent of the vote. The three incumbents, along with challenger Surluta Anthony, look to be headed to a runoff to fill the other two slots. Gordon led the rest of the field, followed by Ashcraft, Anthony and Desio; a mere three votes separated Ashcraft, Anthony and Desio.
The other council candidates were Joy Heath, Kenneth Graham and Cary Rogers.
Winning candidates need to get a majority of votes cast, as determined by state election rules, and candidates have until next week to request a runoff. A runoff would be held Nov. 5.
Monroe has about 18,300 registered voters. Although recent off-year elections typically have turnout of less than 8.5 percent, Tuesday saw turnout of 14 percent.
The council race received a jolt Sept. 19, the first day of early voting.
Thats when Monroe officials disclosed that Union County District Attorney Trey Robison had to dismiss cases against 39 people because city police officers did not provide the necessary case files and related work needed for prosecution. Duncan said she took responsibility for anything that happened during her tenure, which ran from mid-2006 until Sept. 1, when she retired.
The City Council had received some unwelcome headlines in February when an outside report it commissioned to find out why city managers kept quitting detailed a dysfunctional city hall rife with nepotism, paranoia and interference by council members. The report also found credible evidence that Duncan secretly taped former City Manager Wayne Herron without his consent, although she was not disciplined for her actions.
In August, the City Council moved ahead with some reforms that were recommended by the consultant, including changes to curtail nepotism.
Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell
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