In a race with few incumbents seeking re-election, voters elected four new members to the Statesville City Council in Tuesday’s election and returned one current officeholder.
With all nine precincts reporting, unofficial results showed that political neophytes William Morgan, Michael Schlesinger, Jarrod Phifer and Arnold Watt won seats on the City Council, along with incumbent C.O. “Jap” Johnson, who won his Ward 2 slot for the seventh consecutive time.
Five of the seats on the eight-member council were up for election this year, but Johnson was the only incumbent to seek re-election.
Despite the changes on the council, there will be no change at the top, as Mayor Costi Kutteh, running unopposed, was re-elected to his third full term.
Of the seven candidates seeking the at-large council seats, Schlesinger and Morgan received the highest number of votes. Schlesinger, 49, a practicing urologist with Piedmont Health Care and chief of surgery at Iredell Memorial Hospital, was the top finisher, with 1,160 votes . He was active in the effort to oppose a controversial truck stop on Interstate 40.
Morgan, 50, founder of Capital Management Group, an investment and retirement planning firm placed second with 1,062 votes.
In Ward 2, Johnson, 77, a retired firefighter, captured his seventh consecutive term with 183 votes, handily defeating his challenger, Mark Kleinhenz, with 76 votes.
In Ward 3, Phifer, with 94 votes, defeated Peter Molleur with 65 votes and will represent the citizens in this center-city district for the next four years. Phifer, 27, works as a contractor at Vanguard Investment Firm.
In Ward 5, Arnold Watt, 49, an Internet specialist with Wynncom Inc., received 272 votes, beating his opponent, Gene Houpe, who received 190 votes.
Voter turnout was 12.02 percent.
The new council members will be sworn in at the meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at City Hall.
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer.
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