Batesville mayor-elect Jerry Autrey said his priorities in coming days will be talking with employees of the city and learning how the city works.
"I really intend to meet with everyone of the department heads and their employees, just to meet them and talk to them," said Autrey, who will be sworn into office along with the city aldermen on July 4.
Autrey, 57, won the mayor’s office with 59 percent of the vote in the Tuesday general election, according to official results released Wednesday.
Autrey, who won office as a Democrat, defeated independent candidate Gary Kornegay and Republican candidate Dr. Richard Corson.
The official results were:
– Autrey, 1,122 votes (59 percent)
– Kornegay, 653 votes (34 percent)
– Corson, 91 votes (four percent)
The total votes cast in the general election was 1,881, which was 75 more votes than the May 3 primary.
About 100 affidavit ballots were cast, and about 30 of those were counted toward the total votes, City Clerk Judy Savage said Wednesday.
According to official ward-by-ward totals, Autrey bested his opponents in all of the city’s four wards.
After heavily courting the city’s black vote, Autrey succeeded best at the Patton Lane Community Center in Ward 2. He won there over Kornegay by 214 votes ? 281 to 67 ? after campaign volunteers hauled voters to the center in a rented Dodge Durango.
Autrey also maintained a presence at the community center during much of the election day on Tuesday.
Kornegay also maintained a presence at Patton Lane, where his campaign volunteers held Kornegay signs beneath a white tent. He used a golf cart to haul voters to the polls there.
Kornegay was closest to Autrey in Ward 3, where he trailed by 36 votes ? 184 votes to 148 votes.
Corson’s best showing in the general election was in Ward 1, where 41 voters chose him as mayor. He did not visit the polling places on election day.
Wednesday morning, Autrey participated in a planning session for a June 23 job fair, which will be held at the Batesville Civic Center.
Autrey said he is personally promoting the job fair, which he said could draw more than 50 employers.
"I’ve said it before that I intend to hit the ground running on providing jobs," Autrey said. "All the candidates said it, and I’m sure they all meant it, so we’ve got to follow through on what we said."
Autrey and the city’s new alderman-at-large, Teddy Morrow, are the newest additions to city government.
Autrey and Morrow will join four returning aldermen, Bill Dugger, Rufus Manley, Bobbie Jean Pounders and James Yelton, who each were returned to office by voters.
The Batesville mayor’s office pays $56,381 annually. The at-large alderman’s position pays $14,308 a year while the ward aldermen positions pay $12,945 a year.
The mayor-elect and Board of Aldermen must choose a new police chief to replace retired Chief Roger Vanlandingham and a new city clerk to replace Savage, who is also retiring.
Autrey dropped by the police department Thursday morning to meet the officers and staff, he said.
Asked if he has a pick for police chief, Autrey said he is still "analyzing the situation."
Regarding any possible changes to the city’s departments, Autrey said he plans to keep the department heads intact and operating as they are now.
"I don’t have that in mind," Autrey said. "I just want to meet the people. I want to get an overall picture of the situation in Batesville."
At city hall, Savage said the post-election office talk is mostly questions about changes coming from the election of a new mayor.
"We’ve been working around Mayor Baker so long. People just wonder what’s coming next with a new mayor," Savage said.
Savage also alluded to the reported bad feelings between some of the present aldermen and Autrey. She hopes the board and Autrey can "work things out" and move forward in the new term.
The rift arose four years ago when some city aldermen backed outgoing Mayor Bobby Baker over Autrey in the 2001 primary. Baker edged past the first-time candidate with 14 votes.
Autrey said he plans to meet individually with aldermen soon, partly to put past disagreements behind them and move on for the sake of the city.
"I want them to know I want to work with all of them and seek their help," Autrey said. "They have the experience. I don’t."
Asked about the "rift," Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said she wants Batesville to progress under Autrey as it did under Baker.
"I appreciate the hard work of Mayor Bobby Baker and (Alderman-at-Large) Hudson Still. They were good servants of the city," Pounders said Wednesday. "I look forward to working with the new administration."