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Incumbents win the day

York County Council Chairman Buddy Motz, left, listens to election reports at his home Tuesday night as he wins re-election in a close race for his District 6 seat. Former council member David Vipperman claps as the returns come in.
York County Council Chairman Buddy Motz, left, listens to election reports at his home Tuesday night as he wins re-election in a close race for his District 6 seat. Former council member David Vipperman claps as the returns come in.

The most competitive York County Council primary races yielded little change Tuesday as all six incumbents survived their first round of challengers.

Controversy over the plan to extend the runway at the Rock Hill-York County Airport drove voters to the polls, with the most votes in a County Council race cast in District 6, where Chairman Buddy Motz narrowly beat challenger Alex Haefele. Overall, more York County residents voted in this primary than 2006's, with more than 11 percent of voters casting a ballot.

Councilmen Roy Blake and Tom Smith received the most votes in their districts, but neither claimed a majority and will face runoffs June 24.

The only councilman without primary opposition, District 7 representative Rick Lee, is opposed in the November election. Three other districts also have opposition this fall with the possibility of change that was called for by some residents outraged by the handling of the "Pennies for Progress" road improvements program and lack of civility on the council.

District 6

Opposition to an airport overlay district and its expansion wasn't strong enough to keep Motz from reclaiming the seat he's held for a decade. He defeated Haefele, who built a campaign around public outcry related to the proposed airport district and its regulations, by fewer than 50 votes.

"I didn't know the race was going to be this close," Motz said. "It depended on voter turnout. I knew I had some opposition because of the airport issues. I'm very happy voters supported me."

Bold advertising tactics by Haefele, founder and CEO of the Benson Morgan Co., wasn't enough to overcome Motz's reputation.

Haefele, 55, was perceived by some as a one-issue candidate after he targeted mailings to residents inside the district. The proposed district required more regulations and a disclosure form telling homebuyers they were purchasing near the airport.

Motz, 61, worked with concerned residents to drop the disclosure statement and put the plan on hold for more review.

District 5

Curwood Chappell got what he asked voters for -- two more years in the District 5 seat representing southern York County. Chappell, 78, beat his first opponent for the seat in eight years by a 2-1 margin. Ashley Martin, 27, Chappell's first Republican challenger since he was elected to the seat nearly 16 years ago, she said plans to run for the seat again in two years.

"I'm happy that I have 500 people supporting me," Martin said. "I'm happy with what we showed against a 16-year incumbent."

Chappell ran on his reputation. He halted a proposed construction and debris landfill in his district, pushed for paving more than 400 miles of gravel road in the county and helped find a quality county manager.

Martin boasted youth, economic growth and long-term foresight in her bid for the seat. Chappell couldn't be reached for comment.

District 4

The Democrat to face Republican Tom Hardin this fall for the seat covering southwestern Rock Hill will be decided in a runoff election June 24. Incumbent Roy Blake will face challenger William "Bump" Roddey after falling short of a majority of the votes in the three-candidate race.

Blake, first elected to the council in 2004, failed to gain an overall majority, receiving about 47 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. Roddey, a 34-year-old who promised to bring a fresh vision to the county, finished second, ahead of Gwendolyn Connor, who was eliminated.

"Voters want a change in leadership. If you add up my votes with Gwen's votes, that's the difference," Roddey said Tuesday night. "I'm ready for Round 2."

Blake, 59, said he believes his experience as the incumbent will help him carry the run-off.

"I thought I'd get 51 percent, but that's how politics go," he said. "I hope Ms. Connor's supporters swing my way."

District 2

Incumbent Tom Smith and challenger David McCorkle will meet in a Republican runoff election June 24 to represent Clover and Lake Wylie in the District 2 seat.

Smith, 44, needed just a few more votes to claim a majority and fend off McCorkle and third-place finisher Bill Stiles. Instead, his bid for a second term will require one more step after landing 49 percent of the vote.

"I think a lot of David's votes are from the Lake Wylie area, where a lot of newcomers don't know me. Bill has a lot of support in Clover, and I'm hoping those voters will support me now," Smith said.

McCorkle, 54, who has said Smith, a developer, has been influenced by special interests during his time in office, said if elected he'll establish an advisory board to communicate with constituents.

"I'm trying to be positive about it. I'm not saying anything bad about Mr. Smith," McCorkle said. "I just want to improve communication."

The winner of the runoff is unopposed in November's general election.

District 1

Paul Lindemann defeated Jeff Updike again in the Republican race for the District 1 seat, this time by more than 200 votes. He must still face Democratic challenger Marion Davenport and Green Party candidate Bryan Smith in November before returning to the seat.

Former Councilman Updike, 46, challenged his replacement, Lindemann, 29, for the council seat representing Fort Mill and Tega Cay. Lindemann defeated Updike in 2006.

"It's nothing we didn't expect. We worked twice as hard as the first time," Lindemann said.

Lindemann, owner of a real estate investment firm, wants to continue expanding economic development and focusing on transportation corridors such as S.C. 160 in his second term on the council. He says he plans to run the same clean campaign in the fall, which he hopes is successful.

District 3

Incumbent Joe Cox successfully defended his seat against challenger Kenny Ruffin of Smyrna, capturing 56 percent of the vote.

"I felt like this was vindication of the job I am doing," said Cox, a former mayor of Sharon and first-term county councilman.

During the race, Ruffin had said Cox didn't live up to conservative principles. He said he would prevent more government spending.

Cox will now turn his focus to November's election and his race against York Mayor Eddie Lee, who ran uncontested for the Democratic ticket.

"We have a tough election coming up in November," Cox said. "I'm going to need all the support I can get."

Cox said he will continue to fight for better roads, to promote fire substations and to oppose a proposed landfill on Quarry Road.

District 3 covers much of western York County, including York, Sharon, Hickory Grove, Smyrna and McConnells.

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