Election 2009

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 8, 2009

Sleepy election still stirred voters in Ward 2

By Billy Davis

It was a first-hand look at losing, with a display of losing gracefully. 

Batesville alderman Rufus Manley, seated at a courtroom table, watched Wednesday as his second term in office came to a quiet end.

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“The world moves on,” Manley told a reporter after the Democratic Executive Committee examined and accepted 17 affidavit ballots, and also accepted two previously rejected absentee ballots, in the Ward 2 Democratic primary.

Thirteen of the affidavit ballots, and both absentee votes, went to candidate Ted Stewart, who was also present for the vote counting.

Stewart had been trailing Manley by five votes, 134 to 129, after a Diebold computer tabulated Ward 2 votes Tuesday evening.

Stewart’s 15-vote gain gave him a 144 to 138 victory in the race, official totals show.

The executive committee, after moving through the Ward 2 affidavit ballots, voted unanimously to certify Stewart as the winner.

Neither Stewart nor Manley disputed the executive committee’s decisions over the 19 ballots.

Manley, when asked by The Panolian, said he did not plan to contest the election results. 

The new term for municipal officers begins July 6 in Mississippi.

In Batesville, the outcome of the Ward 2 race represented the highlight of an otherwise quiet election.

First-term mayor Jerry Autrey failed to draw an opponent when candidate Ed Allen withdrew, and aldermen Teddy Morrow and Bill Dugger ran for re-election unopposed.

In a second alderman’s race, Ward 3 Alderman Stan Harrison easily defeated opponent Percy Bruce.

Harrison’s 236-133 win delivered him 63 percent of the vote.

But Election Day also decided a Republican primary, setting up a June 2 match-up between Eddie Nabors and incumbent Democrat Bobbie Jean Pounders.

Nabors defeated Ken Williams 166 to 46 to win the Republican primary.

At the ballot counting Wednesday, the Ward 2 contest concluded when committee chairman David Walker read aloud the final ballot, an absentee ballot from Etta B. Turner.

Walker, known for his dry demeanor, matter-of-factly tabulated the votes and declared Stewart the winner. Manley, seated next to Walker, nodded at the results.

Stewart, who stood during the vote count, nodded, too. He circled the table, shook hands with Manley, then the incumbent and challenger embraced with a brief hug.

With the committee as their audience, both Stewart and Manley agreed that the Ward 2 contest had been a “clean race.”

In addition to Walker, the executive committee included his wife, Ann Walker, Mike Amis, and Jim Webb.