Benton council makeup changes with outcome of general election: Two aldermen to face off in Nov. 29 runoff
When all the votes were counted, the results from Tuesday's general election gave the Benton City Council two new members and returned four incumbents to the positions they now hold.
However, two current members — who were part of a three-way contest for the Ward 4, Position 1 seat — will face off in a runoff on Nov. 29.
That race is the only one that will necessitate a runoff, according to Saline County Election Coordinator Darlene Westbrook.
The candidates are Alderman Brad Moore, who currently holds the Ward 4, Position 1 seat, and Alderman David Sparks, now serving in the Ward 4, Position 2 seat. Suewonna Robbins ran third in Tuesday's election.
The final tally gave Moore 977 votes or 44.15 percent; Sparks, 688, 31.09 percent; and Robbins, 548, 24.76 percent
Before the election, both Moore and Sparks were serving in separate Ward 4 positions on the council. Sparks, however, became a candidate for the position that Moore held and did not seek re-election to his post.
Lori Beaty Terrell is a new council member, defeating longtime alderman Doug Stracener in a close race for the Ward 5, Position 2 seat. The final tally showed Terrell with 1,281 votes and Stracener with 1,223 votes.
Also new to the council by running unopposed is James Herzfeld, who will serve in the Ward 4, Position 2 seat now held by David Sparks. Herzfeld's position was not included on the election ballot.
Retaining their seats were:
•Frank Baptist, the incumbent, who defeated challenger Mary Deitemeyer in Ward 1, Position 1. The vote total was 1,612 for Baptist and 793 for Deitemeyer.
•Kerry Murphy, the incumbent, who defeated challenger Greg White in Ward 1, Position 2. Murphy received 1,294 votes to 1,103 for White.
•Joe Lee Richards, the incumbent, who defeated challenger Roger Winfield in Ward 2, Position 2. Richards drew 939 votes to 838 for Winfield.
•Jerry Ponder, the incumbent, who defeated challenger Rick Holland, a former mayor, in Ward 3, Position 2. Ponder garnered 1,739 votes to 1,261 for Holland.
Retaining their seats on the council without a race in the general election were Aldermen Charles Cunningham, Ward 2, Position 1; Alderman Bill Donnor, Ward 3, Position 1; and Alderman Steve Lee, Ward 5, Position 1.
Both Moore and Sparks said they are looking forward to the runoff and each expressed appreciation to supporters who worked in their campaigns.
"We're happy we came out ahead today," said Moore, who led the three-candidate race.
"The battle's not done and we're looking forward to getting back out to the people," he said. "We're going to work hard to make it happen.
"I'm happy to have served the residents of Ward 4 and hope to have the opportunity to do it again," he added. "I appreciate everyone who supported me, especially my parents and wife (Lexi), who worked so hard.
"I've enjoyed the campaign," Moore said. "I've enjoyed meeting people. Campaigning is a very interesting process."
Sparks also expressed appreciation to those who supported him.
"I want to thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who worked for me," he said. "I appreciate every one of them. It just looks like we've got more work to do.
"We'll need to get our strategy together," he added. "I'm really happy to be in the runoff and appreciate everyone who helped me. I look forward to starting over tomorrow (today) and doing it all again."
Terrell, a new member of the council, made no secret of her pleasure at winning the election.
"I'm excited and looking forward to serving the citizens of Benton," she said. "As I said when I announced my candidacy, I feel this is the natural next step for me to serve the citizens and I'm super-excited about getting started."
Stracener, who has served on the council for seven terms, expressed appreciation to those who supported him.
"The 14 years have been a true honor," Stracener said. "Looking back to 1998 when I won the first time, I'm grateful that I've been honored to have been given that trust seven times. God decides the winners and the losers.
"I slept very good Tuesday night knowing that his plan is in place. I think if the leaders in the city of Benton can follow that thought, the future of our city is very bright."