The race between two former York County Council members hoping to regain their District 3 seat ended Tuesday night with history repeating itself, as Joe Cox defeated Steve McNeely by nearly 200 votes.
Cox, a current Sharon Town Council member and former Sharon mayor, collected 930 votes to McNeely’s 738 votes, representing about a 9 percent turnout of registered voters in the district.
The two last faced off for the District 3 seat –the largest, westernmost district in York County that includes York, McConnells, Smyrna, Sharon and Hickory Grove – in 2006, when Cox ousted McNeely, a two-term county councilman.
Cox, 48, an electrical superintendent for SRE, a Gaffney construction firm, spent much of Tuesday night at the York County Elections Office in York, watching the results roll in.
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“It’s been a long campaign with a lot of things going on,” he said after securing the primary victory. “I’ve had a good group of people, and to them I say thank you. To the voters, I say thank you.”
In 2010, Cox lost the seat by about 10 votes to current council member Eric Winstead, but filed to regain the seat during the regular filing period in March. Ballots changed when Winstead withdrew from the race after his second arrest for driving offenses since taking office last year.
In May, Winstead was arrested at his home after driving his car off of a Chester County road. Winstead was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and driving too fast for conditions. His court date is pending. Winstead was arrested in December and later pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
After Winstead withdrew from the District 3 primary, the York County Republican Party pointed to a provision in state law that allowed the party to reopen filing. McNeely, 61, a self-employed paint contractor, filed to run during a half-day filing period.
Cox said regaining the seat he lost to Winstead felt “gratifying."
“The voters of District 3 have been good to me, to say the least," he said. "I feel good.”
Cox describes himself as a fiscal conservative. He wants to streamline the county’s land development regulations, consider a gas tax of 1 cent or less for the maintenance of county and state roads and work for western York County to add water and sewer services so that the area can attract economic development.
Sharon resident Angela Dover, 35, said if the town wants any money directed toward it, Cox is their best bet. She headed out to Woodlawn Presbyterian Church on Tuesday morning to cast her vote for him.
"He doesn't rubber-stamp," she said of Cox. "He's very conservative."
By 2 p.m., more than 100 people had trickled through the precinct in Sharon, where Cox collected 161 votes to McNeely’s 38. Cox also gained footing in the Cotton Belt, Bullock Creek, Bethany and Hickory Grove precincts, though the support shifted to McNeely in precincts in Filbert, Cannon Mill, Tirzah and York.
Barbara Marko, 64, came out to York No. 2 around lunchtime and voted for Cox because "he has done several things for the community that have stood out."
Cox said Tuesday night he was looking forward to beginning work on the things he discussed. He’d said he’d also like to take a good look at the county budget and just do his job.
He wished McNeely well, something McNeely told The Herald Tuesday night as well.
"Congratulations to Joe," he said. "I'm going to enjoy life with my family, keep things going. It's OK.”