LAKE WYLIE -- After narrowly missing on an all-out victory June 10, Tom Smith's supporters left no doubt in stamping their decision the second time around.
Smith, the incumbent York County Councilman representing District 2, finished the June 10 Republican primary election 11 votes shy of securing the win and avoiding a June 24 runoff against second-place finisher David McCorkle. In the runoff, Smith won 475 of 746 total votes, for a 64 percent to 36 percent victory over McCorkle.
No Democrat filed for the District 2 seat, so Smith runs unopposed for the post in November.
"I'm just happy that it's over," Smith said. "I do want everyone to know that I'm truly appreciative of all the people who came out and supported me with this vote."
Smith vowed throughout his campaign to continue his projects on council, including partnering in the creation of an almost 1,500-acre mixed-use development along Crowders and Allison creeks and the possible purchase of Carolina Water Service by the county.
For his second term, Smith hopes to "improve the county in any way possible," including improving efficiency for submitting development plans, creating stronger lake buffers through planned developments, improving erosion control and banning burning for new construction.
In the 2006 election, Smith ran unopposed after then incumbent Perry Johnston backed out of the race after the filing deadline, which became a point of contention for Smith critics. Smith's decisive runoff victory last week, however, validates not only his position on council, he says, but the work he has done.
"It was rewarding, although I'd like to have seen a little more of a turnout overall," he said of the vote. "I couldn't have been happier with the response I got, and it does put a lot of faith in knowing that there's people out there supporting me."
McCorkle's first attempt to represent District 2 will not be his last, he said.
"We intend on starting back up on our campaign this week, and we've got two years to get it going this time," McCorkle said on Wednesday. "The people who supported me, they're not going anywhere."
McCorkle's main concern with Smith is a perceived lack of communication between the representative and his community. McCorkle's platform included promises of community groups that would interact directly with their representative to achieve compromises best fitting the entire district. Smith continually denied a lack of communication with constituents, saying anyone is welcome to call or come by his office with concerns.
"I guess probably the biggest problem we had is only having a couple months to try and get the word out," McCorkle said. "It goes back to the same thing. The community is fragmented. One area of the community doesn't communicate with the other."
For some voters, the decision came down to whether they believed Smith is helping his community.
"I think he's done a good job," said Michaelyn Sherrill, after voting June 24 at Bethel No. 2. "I'm in real estate, and I think he's doing things that are progressive for the county."
Joan Bundy, who would not say who she voted for, said experience was a key factor.
"I felt confident by the time I voted that I got the most knowledgeable one and the one with the most experience," she said.
Low voter turnout
Turnout was lower for the runoff than for the initial primary, with 338 fewer votes cast. The highest turnout among District 2 precincts came, as it did in the initial election, at Bethel No. 2. The River Hills district cast 195 ballots, totaling 9.9 percent of the registered voters.
"We've had several people come who didn't vote before," said Bonnie Koepke, one of the volunteers working the polls Tuesday.
The number of ballots still was down from the 288 votes cast at Bethel No. 2 the first time, but some dropoff was to be expected, saidpoll volunteer Anne Carleton.
Bethel No. 1 was the only other precinct to cast more than 100 votes, with 102 votes for a 3.56 percent turnout. Percentages range from about 1 percent to 5 percent districtwide. In Filbert, only 15 votes were cast.
Susan Bromfield, who cast her ballot at Bethel No. 2, is one of many voters who wishes more people would participate in local elections. Bromfield, also the president of the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce, helped to organize forums for the District 2 candidates that were poorly attended. Given that Lake Wylie is not a municipality, it's vital for the community to choose its lone county council representative wisely, she said.
"It's probably more important for people to vote here than to vote on a national level," she said.
Countywide, voter turnout for three runoff elections came in at 1.76 percent, compared to a turnout of 11.15 percent for the first run of primaries. Only four of 23 precincts participating in the runoff votes gathered more than 10 percent of their registered voters, while one Rock Hill precinct of 1,305 registered voters tallied only one ballot in the runoff.
For complete voting results, visit yorkcountygov.com.
Primary winnersU.S. SENATE
* Lindsey Graham 5,552; 64 percent
Buddy Witherspoon 3,091; 36 percent
STATE HOUSE OF REP., DIST. 48
* Carl Gullick 1,745; 52 percent
Kyle Boyd 1,592; 48 percent
COUNTY COUNCIL DIST. 1
* Paul Lindemann 1,095; 56 percent
Jeff Updike 853; 44 percent
COUNTY COUNCIL DIST. 2
Tom Smith 532; 49 percent
359; 33 percent
Bill Stiles 193; 18 percent
*Candidates for County Council must have 51 percent of the vote. The runoff election was held June 24.
* Tom Smith 475; 64 percent
271; 36 percent