In Bluffton, challengers Lavery, Huffman oust incumbents Hamilton, Mitchell

astice@islandpacket.comNovember 8, 2011 

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Challengers Ted Huffman and Karen Lavery ousted incumbents Fred Hamilton and Allyne Mitchell for two Bluffton Town Council seats Tuesday, according to unofficial results posted by the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

Turnout hovered at about 11.9 percent of the town's 7,252 registered voters, county elections board executive director Scott Marshall said.

According to the unofficial results, Lavery garnered 535 votes while Huffman received 443. Hamilton drew 406 votes while Mitchell had 291.

There should be no need for a run-off because Huffman and Lavery each won a majority, Marshall said.

Mayor Lisa Sulka did not appear on the ballot because she ran unopposed.

Huffman and Lavery attended an informal gathering at Town Hall to watch the returns as town clerk Sandra Lunceford continually hit the refresh button on the county elections board web site after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

"I'm ecstatic," said Lavery, who is active in the Bluffton Rotary Club. "I have to thank Bluffton voters for their confidence in me."

Huffman, owner of Bluffton BBQ and past president of the Greater Bluffton Republican Club, said he was humbled by the results.

"It's not about winners and losers -- it's a shift, a directional change more than anything personal," he said.

Hamilton and Mitchell, who did not watch the returns at Town Hall, both congratulated the challengers on their win.

"The voters have made their choice and their decision," Mitchell said, who has served one term after her election in 2008.

Hamilton said he believed he has served the community well during his six years as councilman, including presently serving as mayor pro-tem.

"I'll support them," Hamilton said. "I'm still going to be a part of this town."

The results won't become official until Thursday when the town's Municipal Election Commission meets at 11 a.m. at 15 John Galt Road in Beaufort to certify the results.

Marshall said the election was glitch-free and he did not anticipate the a change in results.

The town council seats are for four-year terms, are nonpartisan and at-large.

New members will be sworn in at the January council meeting, Lunceford said.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.

Related content:

Bluffton Town Council candidates pledge support for May River, disagree on affordable housing, Nov. 2, 2011

Bluffton council candidates push for support, higher turnout, Oct. 29, 2011

Candidates, groups work to up turnout in Bluffton elections, Oct. 2, 2011

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