While Bluffton voters awarded incumbent Mayor Lisa Sulka with a decisive victory over challenger Cynthia Bensch in Tuesday's municipal election, the two open town council seats remain up in the air.
Incumbent councilman Ted Huffman, Harry Lutz and Dan Wood all won enough votes to force a three-way runoff Nov. 17.
Sulka won nearly 79 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Beaufort County Board of Elections.
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|Lisa Sulka (i)||Cynthia Bensch||Write-in||Total|
Wood lead the field of eight council candidates with 22.79 percent of the votes, followed by Huffman with 22.15 percent and Lutz with 16.83.
|Ted Huffman (i)||Brendan Downey||Oliver Brown||Jim Sims||Harry Lutz||Eleanor McKinsey-Chandler||Michael Spears||Dan Wood||Write-in||Total|
In the mayoral race, 1,871 total votes were cast; 3,286 were cast in the council race.
Provisional ballots have yet to be counted.
Sulka said she is "beyond humbled" at the opportunity to serve for a third term.
"But it's good to be done with (campaigning) and getting back to what we need to do," she said.
She said she will focus her upcoming term on bolstering heritage tourism and preserving the May River.
Sulka also said she would like to strengthen the town's ties with Beaufort County officials.
Bensch, her challenger, is a member of the Beaufort County Council.
Sulka said she does not think the recent campaign will hurt her relationships with county officials, including Bensch.
Huffman said he "is happy to still be in the race" and his four years on the council have helped "steer this town in the right direction."
Wood said he is "in a rebooting situation" in preparation for the runoff.
"It's like going into the playoffs," he said, adding that he "hopes (the voters) come back out in two weeks."
Lutz said he was awarded with a spot in the runoff with his "sincerity (and) honesty."
"I'm hoping that the (voters continue to) recognize that and when it comes down to the runoff, they come out and support me."
All three runoff participants declined to comment on who they would like to see win the other open seat.
The two candidates with the most votes in the runoff will win the two available council seats.
Follow reporter Lucas High on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.