May 8, 2013 10:41:35 AM
West Point mayoral candidate Robbie Robinson intended to watch the municipal election returns Tuesday night with his supporters at Anthony's Good Food Market, but when the numbers started rolling in, he headed back to the Civic Center, where a large crowd gathered to wait for the results.
He need not have worried. Official numbers place Robinson firmly in the mayor's seat for the next four years. He defeated opponent Darlene Cox 2,927 to 333 in his first bid for mayor after serving seven terms as Clay County chancery clerk.
Outgoing mayor Scott Ross filed qualification papers Jan. 2 to run for a third term but two weeks later withdrew from the race. Cox did not return phone calls by press time.
Robinson called the landslide victory both humbling and sobering, saying he was grateful to his constituents for putting their faith and trust in him. He believes his election points toward a growing momentum in the city following the contract signed last month with Japan-based Yokohama Rubber Co., which plans to build a $1.2 billion tire manufacturing plant at the Prairie Belt Powersite, bringing 2,000 jobs to the area.
"There has been an air of optimism in our community and in West Point now for several weeks," Robinson said late Tuesday night. "There has been an air of expectant change, and I think our people were ready for it. I was overwhelmed by the interest and the turnout."
Robinson intends to get to work right away examining the city's finances and talking with department heads about their goals.
"I want to know the complete financial condition of the city," he said. "As chancery clerk, I was treasurer of the county, dealing with budgets. I want to see where we stand and what the fund balances are and see how healthy we are financially as a city."
He will be joined by two new selectmen in Wards 1 and 2, while candidates in Wards 3 and 5 will head to a runoff May 21.
Longtime West Point selectman Linda Hannah regained her Ward 1 seat Tuesday night, defeating challenger William Young 425 to 159. Hannah had served four terms before being defeated by first-time candidate Rob Bobo in 2009. Bobo declined to run for reelection. Jimmy Davidson qualified in January but withdrew Feb. 7.
William Binder is the new selectman in Ward 2, unseating incumbent Homer Cannon 353 to 247. Ward 4 incumbent Keith McBrayer retained his post for another term, defeating challenger A.C. House 946 to 55.
And voters in Wards 3 and 5 will return to the polls in two weeks to decide whether incumbents Charles Collins and Jasper Pittman will return to office or be replaced by their opponents, Jimmy Clark and Gary Dedeaux.
Clark received 382 votes while Collins received 235 and a third opponent, Ken Poole, received 222 votes.
In Ward 5, the vote was also split, with Gary Dedeaux capturing 451 votes to Pittman's 342 and Margaret Shelton's 109.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.
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