Thomas wins; Minor re-elected

Friday, May 6, 2011
Lewisburg Councilman-Elect Steve Thomas smiles while realizing he's just won an election. His vote total in his Ward 1 race was nearly as much as his two competitors combined.

A Presbyterian minister received more votes than any other candidate in Lewisburg's City Council election this week, besting two men in his ward and winning one more vote than another ward's successful incumbent.

"I look forward to being an advocate for the city here and elsewhere," the Rev. Steve Thomas, pastor at Belfast Presbyterian Church. "We are at a crossroads in terms of the economy. A lot of things that we have been provided will need funding."

Lewisburg councilmen will have to know what residents want from the city, said Thomas, noting that "budget time" has started. He will succeed Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart who has said she's moving from her ward.

In Ward 1, the councilman-elect received 60 votes. Bob Christoph received 33 and Jeff Henson received 31. Henson ran for mayor nearly 20 years ago. Christoph is relatively new to this town as he'd been in the Navy as a sub chaser crewman for years. Thomas had been an election poll official for the county during several recent elections, working at the Gas Department building where Ward 1 voters cast their ballots.

In Ward 5, Councilman Robin Minor, a history teacher who's retiring this year from Lewisburg Middle School, was re-elected with 59 votes. His challenger, Jeff Payne was one of Minor's students at LMS years ago. Payne received 50 votes. Minor took the lead in recent issues before the council as it re-examined grave decoration rules and how sewer service fees are charged.

Minor thanked he voters for their support, as did Thomas.

"I really do appreciate it," Minor said. "I plan to work as hard or harder in the next four years because I'll have more time to do it."

Minor is retiring at the end of the month.

Long-time observers of city elections predicted Minor's election to his second four-year term, partly because he's from a big family that lives in, and has friends in, Ward 5. Minor received 54 percent of the 109 votes in the ward. Payne's vote count was 46 percent of the total.

Thomas' 60 votes outnumbered Minor's 59 votes by one, but they are in different wards. The minister's vote count was 48 percent of all the 124 ballots cast in his race. Christoph's 33 votes were nearly 27 percent of the total while Henson's 31 votes were 25 percent of the total in the three-way race.

Thomas' wife, Paula, chided him about his "commanding" lead in an election that saw nominal voter turnout.

There are 1,060 registered voters in Ward 1, and the 124 voters participating in the May 3 election indicates voter turnout was almost 12 percent.

Ward 5 had 1,198 registered voters available to participate Tuesday and the 109 people voting there reflects a voter turnout of nine percent.

In the 2007 election, when Minor was elected to his first term, there were 195 voting in Ward 5, and 187 voting in Ward 1. There were a total of 382 people voting in the city election that year.

Minor was elected to his first term in 2007 with 83 votes. That was 42 percent of the votes cast in that ward where six candidates campaigned to succeed Roy Wayne Bailey who died in office that year.