O’Neal keeps mayor’s seat|Belhaven incumbents keep seats on council

Published 2:47 am Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Community Editor

BELHAVEN — Voters prayed before Tuesday’s election results were announced, later crying either tears of joy or tears of sadness after the unofficial results indicated Mayor Adam O’Neal and councilmen Steve Carawan and Howard Moore retained their seats.
O’Neal was elected to a third term as mayor of Belhaven with 393 votes, unofficially. Former Belhaven Mayor Charles Boyette garnered 216 unofficial votes. Boyette was defeated by O’Neal in the 2005 and 2007 mayoral races.
“I’m glad the people (of Belhaven) decided to keep moving forward,” O’Neal said at an election party at Riverforest Manor after the polls closed. “The margin of victory shows an overwhelming support for positive change.”
O’Neal pointed at several projects that the town has started since he took office, including the new breakwater in the harbor and docks at Wynne’s Gut.
“It give us an opportunity to complete projects that have already been started and start new projects to enhance the town,” he said.
Carawan took the council seat representing the town’s East End precinct with 367 votes. Newcomer Chad Bond, chairman of the Belhaven Recreation Advisory Commission, received 237 votes.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Carawan said after the polls closed. “It was a tough campaign.
“I appreciate the voters coming out. They showed the importance of the election,” he added.
Carawan, who is a business partner with O’Neal at United Country O’Neal &Associates, will be serving in his second four-year term on the council.
Bond offered words of caution to voters.
“The townspeople voted. I hope they are aware of what they voted for,” he said.
The race between incumbent Moore and newcomer Jay Wilkins for the council seat representing the town’s West End precinct was the closest race in the town.
Moore tallied 352 votes, 99 more than Wilkins’ 253 votes.
Moore, who is retired from the Navy and U.S. Postal Service, will be in his first full-term as a council member. He was appointed to his current post after a councilman resigned several years ago.
“I’m going to continue to do what I need to do to make Belhaven better,” Moore said.
Wilkins, a gospel singer and bookkeeper, said that Tuesday was a sad day for Belhaven.
Elaine Hudnell, chief judge of the Belhaven precinct, applauded all the voters in Tuesday’s election.
“I’m really proud of the voters for coming out,” she said.
Hudnell said the numbers were only slightly down from the town’s municipal election in 2007.
Linda Wilkerson, a supporter of Boyette, Bond and Wilkins, said she voted to restore peace in Belhaven, adding the elections results left her disappointed.
A crowd of dozens of similar supporters looked dejected as the unofficial vote totals were announced by Hudnell at the polling place inside the old Town Hall chambers.
Across town at Riverforest Manor, supporters of O’Neal, Moore and Carawan celebrated their candidates’ victories.
“I think this means the town can now move on further in terms of progress,” said Belhaven native Arthur Bonner. “It will just be a better place to live.”
Fellow native Greg Satterthwaite echoed Bonner’s sentiments.
“It looks like the people spoke again,” he said.