Two newcomers, one incumbent and a former city councilman were elected Tuesday to fill open city council seats in Harlem and Grovetown.
Bruce Stoddard and George James won the two available seats in Grovetown, tying with 196 votes each. Rosa Lee Owens, who helped create the Grovetown Museum, finished third with 185 votes.
"I just want to thank God first for letting me serve the people of Grovetown again," James said seconds after watching his name being projected on a computer screen as a winner at the Evans Government Complex.
James served on the Grovetown City Council from 1988 to 1991. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1999.
"I'm not out to make any major changes," he said. "I just want to improve on what we already have."
Stoddard - a locksmith at Augusta State University - was elected for the first time.
"I'm very happy that the citizens of Grovetown have given me a chance to prove to them that we can have a little bit of leadership and progression in the city now," he said.
In Harlem, Robin Root returned to her seat, which she has held for two years, with 156 votes. Craig Brooks, who was running for the first time, drew 106 votes to fill the remaining open seat. Robert Winters finished with 83 votes.
"I thank everybody that voted for me," Root said. "I must be doing something right to get that many votes. And that makes you feel really good that you've got that much support."
After being declared a winner at the county's election board office, Brooks said, "I'm a little humbled and grateful that the residents of Harlem have chosen me to represent them."
Brooks said his goal is to run Harlem like a business, which could include bringing a fast-food restaurant to the area.
"I like to use as the model, Grovetown," he said.
Meanwhile, voter turnout in both cities was low. In Grovetown, 323 of the 2,194 registered voters cast ballots. In Harlem, 198 out of 1,002 voted. Voters were told to vote for two candidates out of a pool of three. However, in both races, several voting cards had only one candidate chosen.
Those undervotes totaled 51 in Harlem and 69 in Grovetown.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.