In true Southern fashion, it was ladies first in the race for two Tega Cay City Council seats. It was, in fact, ladies first, second and third.
Long-time volunteer Jennifer Stalford (905 votes) and incumbent Dottie Hersey (712) easily outpaced four other candidates Tuesday to claim four-year terms. Relative newcomer Lisa Marie Johnson finished third with 377 votes, followed by David O’Neal with 342, Walt Krasinski with 220 and Phillip Zima with 134.
All those numbers, posted at yorkcountygov.com, were unofficial ahead of Thursday’s certification.
Stalford is a long-time volunteer with the city, particularly as leader of its beautification committee, which oversaw construction of the Living Memorial Gardens. Stalford ran on increased volunteer participation and connectivity between different parts of the city.
“I’m just thankful the voters put their confidence and trust in me to serve them and do what’s right for our city,” Stalford said.
The top vote-getter said she’s glad the campaign, calling it “the longest job interview of your life,” is finished. But she’s also pleased to have heard so many concerns from residents. She wants to look at election data and see what parts of the city didn’t turn out in as high numbers as others, to find ways of making those areas feel more connected.
Stalford said the net result of her being the only new face on Council is a good one.
“There’s only one person to have a learning curve,” she said.
Hersey said that unlike the remaining candidates, she would be judged by voters on her record and service as an incumbent. Retaining her seat on Council validates her time with the group, she said.
“I think that’s how I feel,” Hersey said. “I think most of the people voted for me or didn’t vote for me based on my record.”
Hersey wasn’t surprised that the three women fared so well in the polls compared to their male counterparts. Even Johnson, who only recently moved to the area, finished ahead of candidates with more experience locally.
“I’m certainly of the opinion that the three women did the better job at the candidates forum three weeks ago,” Hersey said. “The results maybe reflect that.”
Hersey said she was hopeful and “cautiously optimistic” that she and Stalford would be the picks. As a regular at Council meetings representing the city’s beautification committee, Stalford’s work impressed Hersey.
“She is Tega Cay,” Hersey said. “She’s done a lot for the city, really toiled and labored on behalf of the city. It proves she loves it.”
Tega Cay has more than 6,700 registered voters.