Tuesday’s municipal election in White Sulphur Springs netted the town a new mayor and five new council members.
The election was the town’s first since the devastating flooding of June 2016. Mayor Lloyd Haynes, whose wife died only two days after the flood, opted to not run again. Bruce Bowling won the mayoral contest with 313 votes against challenger Ryan L. Lockhart, who received 82 votes.
The council member election, where all five members were up for reelection and faced off with five other contenders, turned ugly right before citizens took to the polls.
At a city council meeting the night before the election, council member Audrey VanBuren, her sister Helen Burns and citizen Sue King all spoke out against an anonymous flyer that was mailed to White Sulphur citizens and placed on car windshields. The flyer accused VanBuren and city council incumbent Mark Gillespie of frivolous spending in the year after the flood.
“It just makes me so sad,” King told council Monday night. “It’s really hitting below the belt.”
VanBuren and Gillespie got the last laugh on election day – both candidates easily won their seats in the race, with VanBuren receiving 224 votes and Gillespie garnering 219.
In addition to VanBuren and Gillespie, other winners were Chris Hanna (202 votes), incumbent George “G.P.” Parker (246 votes), and Mary Buskirk Collins (258 votes).
Incumbents Larry Wayne Wakeford (96 votes) and Ted Humphreys (84 votes) each lost their seat. Peggy Bland, who did not run for reelection as city recorder in order to run for city council did not win a seat either. Bland received 162 votes.
The other candidates were Penny Fiorvante (93 votes), Lynn Swann (157 votes) and Ryan P. Ellis (52 votes).
Kathy L. Glover ran unopposed for city recorder, and received 337 votes.