Nelson gets new mayor, 2 council seats decided
by Joshua Sharpe
November 07, 2013 12:06 AM | 1579 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With less than 100 voters turning out to cast their ballots in Nelson on Tuesday, the small Cherokee-Pickens town of about 1,300 residents will have a new mayor and one returning and one new councilmember after an incumbent was unseated.

Larry Ray was the lone candidate going after the vacant mayor’s position, which Mike Haviland resigned suddenly in May, and won the job with 88 votes, according to the Pickens County Elections Office.

Sitting council member Jackie Jarrett kept his seat with 69 votes, and newcomer Thad Thacker Jr. got 82 votes, besting incumbent Edith Portillo, who got 24 votes out of the total 96 ballots cast. In Nelson, elections are by plurality, which allows the top vote getters to take office and two seats were available this election.

The 96 ballots cast counted as 12.68 percent of the city’s 757 registered voters.

Ray said Wednesday he was ready to get to work.

“I was glad they chose me,” he said.

Ray said he would also be glad if he can bring changes to Nelson’s government, which has historically seen conflicts between mayors and the city council.

“I’m hopefully going to crack down on all the problems that surround City Hall over there,” Ray, a former magistrate judge, said. “Some people said I was crazy for running; there’s been so much turmoil. Hopefully, the current council will be able to quiet it down and work for the people. That’s the way it should be, anyway.”

Incumbent Jarrett said he was looking forward to another term.

“I reckon they wanted me back in there for another term,” he said. “I’m proud they made the choice. If they hadn’t have, I’d have understood.”

Considering some of the controversy in Nelson government, Jarrett joked that he was surprised “they didn’t want to get rid of all of us.”

But now that he’s heading for another term, Jarrett said he’s excited to bring improvements to the city.

Outgoing incumbent Portillo could not be reached for comment by press time.

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