WEST POINT — As the decisive absentee ballot counting stretched into the early morning hours Wednesday, Rod Bobo debated whether to leave the West Point Civic Center and find out the results later in the day.
“It was grueling, just waiting and waiting,” Bobo said. “But I stuck around. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyway.”
Finally, at about 1;30 a.m., Bobo got the news he had been waiting for.
Bobo held a 90-vote advantage over his main competition, Cole Bryan — 1,593 to 1,503 — for the Democratic Party nominee for West Point mayor heading into the June 8 general election against Homer Ryland Jr. (Independent) and Jennifer Harper (Constitution). A third candidate in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary, Tammy Parkerson, didn’t factor into the outcome directly, but the 68 votes she received may yet cast the primary race into a runoff.
By state law, the results will not be official for five days, allowing for any additional absentee ballots postmarked before April 6 to be counted.
“I think it’s still too close to call,” Bryan said. “… I think that’s an accurate way to describe it. They’ll go over the affidavit votes and any ballots that were postmarked on time weren’t counted (Tuesday) and we’ll see how it turns out.”
As of Wednesday, Bobo, 48, a State Farm agent and former one-term selectman, believes his narrow margin will stand and that no runoff with Bryan, 36, will be necessary.
“I’m elated that I appear to have gotten the Democratic nomination and I’m also proud to be the first African American to hold that title,” Bobo said. “If I’m elected in June, I will be remembered as the first African-American mayor of West Point, but more important, I want to be remembered as the most efficient, most productive mayor West Point has ever had. It’s no secret that we have a real problem with unemployment. Our unemployment rate is 12, 13 percent higher than other towns in the area. So it’s all about economic development and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
In the other Democratic Primary races, incumbents Leta Turner (Ward 1), Ken Poole (Ward 3) and Jasper “Peicy” Pittman (Ward 5) all defeated their challengers and will return to their positions on the Board of Selectmen, having no opponents in the June 8 general election.
The mayor’s race dominated the primary, pitting Bobo against Bryan, whose family has been at the center of the city’s economic life for almost a century. Bryan and Bobo raised more than $38,000 in campaign donations between them, one of the more expensive campaigns in memory.
“My hat’s off to Cole Bryan who has done an excellent job in the community and ran a good race, as did Tammy Parkerson,” Bobo said. “Everybody in West Point knows the Bryan family. I have friends who are Bryans or descendants of the family.
The Bryans have done a lot of wonderful things for the community and will continue to do that. But to all things there is a season. I think it’s my time.”