A tight race in Tega Cay could come down to Thursday’s final count.
The latest results Thursday night show Tega Cay City Council candidate Gus Matchunis nine votes ahead of Abigail Duval. Each of the two candidates gathered more than 47 percent of the vote, with Mike Tullos collecting less than 5 percent. The number of write-in votes, 10, is more than what separates Matchunis and Duval.
Vote tallies aren’t official until Thursday.
Matchunis said Tuesday night he had people checking the vote totals posted at precincts, which put him up by less than 15 votes. He and Abigail Duval each received about 850 votes, he said. Having run for council before and seeing his vote total change between Election Night and certification because of absentee, provisional and similar votes, Matchunis said he was hopeful about the outcome but hardly assured of it Tuesday night.
“Regardless, I’ve got to think this is going to be within 20 votes,” he said.
Efforts to reach Duval for comment Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
Two hours after polls closed, the county election site showed only two of 28 precincts reporting. Duval had 19 votes to 15 for Matchunis, with Mike Tullos in third place with five. The first two precincts reporting typically involve absentee ballots. A little before 10 p.m. the county election office put out a count at 869 votes for Matchunis, 860 for Duval.
The three-way race came about when Mayor David O’Neal left a council seat to take his current post.
Results will be certified March 22. A meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the board of elections office in York.
“This is when the results will be certified and become official,” said Beth Covington with the elections office.
Whatever the final votes say, Matchunis believes his strong message resonated with voters after he took early stances on major issues. Matchunis wants to see council expanded to six members with districts, guaranteeing representation from various parts of a growing city.
“We all have different needs and different wants, and we need to make sure everyone is a part of the city,” he said.
Another issue was impact fees.
“I’m absolutely in favor of raising impact fees,” Matchunis said. “That will be helpful in paying down bond debt, and hopefully it will slow down some of the residential growth, too. Especially on the multi-family.”
Matchunis is a Tega Cay resident of more than 20 years, first on the main peninsula and now on the newer side of the city. Seeing multiple sides of issues, but then taking firm stances, is what he believes appealed to voters.
“I think probably the biggest thing for me was being balanced,” Matchunis said. “I preached balance from the very beginning. Balance was my thing. And I was ready to come out relatively early and say what my stance was on a variety of issues.”
Duval also has a long history in Tega Cay. Last fall she finished third in a seven-way race for two council seats. She was 29 votes shy of second, and ahead of Matchunis, who also ran.
Duval said upon deciding to run again that she is aligned with the current council and citizens in Tega Cay who want to stop or slow residential growth.
“We saw a huge shift from the election in November, for the direction residents say they want to go in Tega Cay,” Duval said in January. “Through their votes, they made that decision.”