BLADENBORO — Folks in Bladenboro will have a new mayor, along with two newly elected town council members after Tuesday's municipal election.
Based on unofficial results from Tuesday's vote, Rufus Duckworth III defeated incumbent Mayor Livingston Lewis by 47 votes. Duckworth received 263 votes to Lewis' 216, and Ken Chavis was a distant third with just 56 votes. There were seven write-in votes cast in the race.
Less than half of the registered voters in Bladenboro made the important decisions for who will lead the town in the future. There are about 1,256 registered voters in the town of Bladenboro, and about 550 of those cast their ballots on Tuesday.
“I'd like to thank all of the supporters and thank all of those who spoke loudly. We hope everyone can come together and work together for the betterment of our town,” said Duckworth.
Duckworth also started the petition for a referendum to change the town's form of governance from council-manager to council-mayor. The referendum won overwhelmingly, with 332 yes votes to 206 no. The town has operated under the council-manager form of government since Feb. 10, 2003.
“I started it at the request of several citizens,” said Duckworth of the referendum.
Duckworth has served for 18 years on the town's planning board. He has also worked with the Christmas parade committee and the Boost the 'Boro committee for numerous years.
Incumbent Mayor Livingston Lewis had no comment. He has served as mayor of the town for 20 years.
Two incumbent councilmen were voted off the board on Tuesday as well. They were Mitchell Hughes and Stephen Bryan. Hughes received 153 votes and Bryan received 189 votes.
The top three vote-getters who will be taking seats on the town Council are Jeff Atkinson, who received 365 votes; incumbent Billy Ray Benson, who received 286 votes; and Curtis Timothy Benton Jr., who received 284 votes.
Also running but not earning a seat was Bud Freeman with 222 votes. There were two write-in votes cast in this race as well.