Hamilton Jr. wins runoff for seat on Bluffton Town Council

dburley@islandpacket.comNovember 19, 2013 

Fred Hamilton Jr. won a seat Tuesday on Bluffton Town Council on Tuesday, defeating incumbent Mike Raymond in a runoff election, according to unofficial results from the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

Turnout was about 8 percent of the town's 9,546 registered voters, according to the board's website. A total of 761 votes were cast in the race for the nonpartisan, at-large seat. One voter cast a ballot without selecting a candidate.

Hamilton had 421 votes, while Raymond collected 339, according to the unofficial results.

The election was glitch-free and the results are expected to stand, Marie Smalls, executive director of the elections board, said. Precinct-by-precinct results were not available Tuesday evening.

In a telephone interview, Hamilton said he was excited to be returning to council, where he served from 2005 to 2011.

"I feel blessed," the Bluffton native said. "I feel like we ran a good race, fought hard and God blessed us with the victory."

At Town Hall, Raymond said he enjoyed his four years on council and thinks his focus on economic development left an impression on the panel.

"There are a lot of plans in place to capitalize on moving forward," he said. "Economic development was not on the radar four years ago, and now it's a No. 1 priority of the town."

Raymond said he called Hamilton to congratulate him after the results were known.

"The council is going to be in good hands," he said. "Fred has been in the seat before; he knows the ropes."

The results won't become official until the town certifies the outcome at a 10 a.m. hearing Thursday at the elections board office, 15 John Galt Road in Beaufort, town clerk Sandra Lunceford said.

Raymond and Hamilton outpaced four other candidates -- Oliver Brown, Gary Bensch, Garfield Moss and Charlie Wetmore -- on Nov. 5 to advance to Tuesday's runoff.

Challenger Larry Toomer secured a council seat in that election two weeks ago.

About 9 percent of the town's voters turned out in that election, on par with previous averages since the town began holding council elections in off-cycle years.

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

Bluffton Town Council results

Official results document, town of Bluffton

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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