May 5, 2010
Adkins, Teague win seats

Adkins, Teague win seats

At left, Incumbent Martinsville City Councilman Gene Teague is shown at his home shortly after the election results came in showing that he again won a seat on city council. At right, political newcomer Kim Adkins, who also won, is shown with her husband, Jeff Adkins, at a victory party at the home of Steve Sheppard.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

City voters on Tuesday elected a political newcomer to the Martinsville City Council and re-elected an incumbent, unofficial election results showed.

Kim Adkins and Gene Teague won the two council seats up for grabs in the municipal election. Adkins, the newcomer, received 1,165 votes and Teague, the incumbent, received 1,054 votes, the results showed.

Kathy Lawson, the incumbent currently serving as mayor, was defeated in her effort to win a second four-year term on the council. She received 737 votes, the results indicated.

Adkins will join the council in July, after Lawson’s term ends.

Voter turnout was 19 percent, with exactly 1,700 of Martinsville’s 9,140 registered voters casting ballots.

Adkins is executive director of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and former president of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce. Teague is director of business planning for VF Sportswear.

After the election results were tallied, Adkins said she felt “very happy” to have garnered so much support from voters.

She admitted that “the citizens of Martinsville are taking a chance” on her, and she pledged to do her best not to let them down.

In this election, “we had three really good, viable candidates,” Adkins said. “All three of us were working hard (in campaigning) for the right reasons.

“Unfortunately, someone had to lose” because there were only two seats to fill, she said. “People had to make a tough choice. I am fortunate to have secured one” of the seats.

Teague said his victory is “kind of overwhelming, really.”

“I’m excited and happy and honored,” he said. “I honestly didn’t know how the voters would react” in this election.

Altogether, Teague has more than 12 years of experience as a councilman. Voters elected him several times, and he was appointed twice to fill council seats that other members had vacated.

“I think people feel good about” what he and other council members have accomplished, he said, adding that he thinks name recognition as well as his experience may have helped him retain his seat.

Lawson was not bitter about her loss.

“I am a firm believer that the Lord sends you in the direction you need to go,” she said. “I had a great four years, and I know I made a difference” as both a council member and mayor, which is an appointed seat in the city.

For example, she said she and other council members have helped launch a public transportation system, streamlined city government and increased the use of inmate labor to help the city save money on its expenses.

Recently, Lawson said she might be able to live with an increase in the city’s meals tax — as a last resort — as a way to help the city generate revenue in tough financial times. She admitted that she heard some flack from voters, and her stance might have cost her some support.

But she was honest about her position, she emphasized.

Lawson is the third council member in the past decade to lose a re-election bid while serving as mayor. Joe Cobbe lost in 2006 and Mark Crabtree lost in 2002, past election results indicate.

The mayor’s post “has a little dagger attached to it sometimes,” Lawson said, in that although the council selects the mayor from among its members, it is the most prominent seat on the panel.

Adkins, who won the most votes overall, was the top vote-getter in three precincts, while Teague was the preferred candidate in four, election results show. Lawson did not prevail in any precinct.

The results will not be declared official until after the Martinsville Electoral Board conducts a canvass at 9 a.m. today.

Martinsville city elections usually have low voter turnout. In comparison with Tuesday’s contest, turnout in the May 2008 election was 24 percent, while turnout in the 2006 election also was 19 percent, statistics from the city registrar’s office show.

“It was a little heavier than we thought” it would be this time around, said electoral board Vice Chairman Ferretta Belcher.

“Which makes us happy,” added city Registrar Ercell Cowan. Still, “we wish more people would have voted.”

Turnout was highest in the Druid Hills precinct at 32 percent and lowest in the Albert Harris Elementary School precinct at 10 percent, figures show.

Cowan said there were no major problems at any of the city’s polling places on Election Day.