Register wins runoff election

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By Ada Lang

A bitter fight for City Commission Seat No. 3 with charges flying and flyers making charges ended Tuesday with challenger Dale Register winning over incumbent Pat O'Neal by a vote of 175 to 148.

It was a close-fought race as the count of ballots cast at City Hall had Register leading by two votes, 113 to 111. But the lead widened when the 99 absentee ballots were counted, giving Register 62 votes to 37 for O'Neal.

For Register, who ran a campaign asking voters to elect a new face to the commission and questioning O'Neal's rejection of recycling, it was an affirmation that voters want change.

“I am honored and very happy to accept the responsibility that the citizens have bestowed on me and I give you my word that I will do the very best that I can for the city” Register said.

O’Neal on Wednesday said, “I’m done, Godspeed and good luck." On Tuesday after the results were announced he turned in his set of city keys to City Clerk Frances Hodges and left City Hall.

O'Neal who is also mayor, claimed ownership of a flyer mailed to voters in the closing days of the election questioning Register's truthfulness. The flyer centered on Register's claim he was endorsed by Dave Feigen, a third candidate defeated in the general election three weeks ago.

Feigen said he was not endorsing any candidate in the runoff. “It had my name on it — it was to get the facts out,” O'Neal said.

While at least one voter, Stanley Bair of Island Hotel, said she felt it turned some voters against O'Neal, something the mayor disputed. "Nope — don’t think it backfired. Don’t know what goes on in people’s minds,” he said.