It was a hard-fought campaign. Contestants slugged it out over the Internet, herding voters to the virtual polls. And in the end it was all for a big, fake street sign, $32 and the non-existent title of mayor of Evans.
Gene Sullivan, Deputy Superintendent of Richmond County Schools, in his office at the Board of Education Tuesday March 9, 2004. Sullivan will retire at the end of the month.
Photo by Kevin Martin
The win should come as no surprise to Gene Sullivan. He jokingly quotes a supporter, who says Sullivan is "the most-qualified candidate on that list for a position that doesn't mean anything."
"This was a hoot," Sullivan says, noting that when the contest first started, and he was lagging in The News-Times' totally unscientific online poll, he asked his friends to vote at least so he wouldn't come in dead last.
They did much better than that, propelling Sullivan to a win in the online "runoff." Sullivan has plenty of friends (and many of them have too much time on their hands, if the computerized vote-totals are any clue); with more than three decades in public education, as a teacher, principal and associate superintendent, Sullivan has a well-earned reputation as community leader - and a good sport.
The light-hearted contest was simply to highlight the good news of Evans being named by Money magazine as the 32nd best place in America to live.
In spite of hard-fought campaigns on their own, fellow nominees Jeri Whitworth, Michael Kelehan, Janet Hicks and Andy Kingery fell behind as Sullivan took the honorary title. In addition to his very own city-limits sign for a city that exists (for now) only on paper, Sullivan wins a $32 "municipal budget" and plenty to brag about.
Heck, we'll even pay his entry fee if he'll ride in this year's Merchants Association Christmas Parade. (Of course, the merchants don't charge a fee.)
Congratulations to Evans' new "mayor." And thanks to all the contestants who played along, and to The News-Times readers who nominated them.
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