A former Seat Pleasant mayor is returning as a council member after winning in the city’s elections Monday, but low turnout seemed to overshadow election results.
There are 3,659 registered voters in Seat Pleasant, and 361 came to vote Monday — compared to 513 in 2008, according to city clerk Dashaun Lanham.
Mayor Eugene W. Grant, who ran unopposed and received 343 votes for his third consecutive term, said he has been disappointed with continued low voter turnout.
“Obviously, these low numbers still represent a disconnect between the government and its people, and that’s a sad indictment either way,” Grant said. “If the people are happy, they should have come and voted. If they’re not happy, they should have come and voted.”
Also running unopposed were council members Aretha Stephenson (Ward 2), who received 24 votes; Reveral Yeargin (Ward 3) who received 36 votes; and Gerald Raynor Sr. (Ward 4), who received 78 votes.
The at-large, Ward 1 and Ward 5 seats were the only contested races.
Former Seat Pleasant mayor Eugene Kennedy is the newest Ward 5 councilman. He defeated first-time candidate Octavius Brown 72 votes to 57 votes.
“To even consider myself a candidate and to only lose by 15 votes to the ex-mayor, I think I did pretty good,” Brown said. “I’ll be back though.”
Kennedy, who could not be reached for comment, served as Seat Pleasant’s mayor from 1994 to 2004, when he lost the mayoral election to Grant.
Councilwoman Elenora Simms (Ward 1) received 48 votes to hold on to her seat for a third consecutive term against challenger Denise Akers, who received 37 votes.
Akers said the campaign was a learning experience.
“I had a lot of fun,” Akers said. “[I’m] a little disappointed that the people don’t come out and vote like they should. I don’t think that had anything to do with me or whoever ran.”
Simms said she is excited to work on the City Center project, which includes a new City Hall, senior housing and community center. A groundbreaking is scheduled Sept. 29.
“I do thank the residents who voted for me, supported me in doing this, put faith in me that I can try to help the city move forward,” Simms said.
Councilwoman Kelly Porter received 255 votes and Councilman Johnie Higgs Sr. received 299 to remain the city’s two at-large council members, beating challenger James Wright’s 74 votes.
Higgs said he thanked voters because he wanted another four years to see projects such as City Center to their completion.
“I’m going to do everything to uphold how they feel about me and how they feel about this community,” Higgs said. “I’ve been here 37 years. This city has come a long way.”
Wright, president of the Seat Pleasant Citizens Association, said he was happy to be another choice for the at-large seat. He said he does not plan to run for office again and would have liked to see a better voter turnout, but overall wants to see the city progress economically.
“I think the most important thing is that our city develops,” Wright said. “That’s the most important thing.”