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Scully edges Graham to win mayor’s race

Drakeford, Parks win council bids; voters say ‘no’ to sports complex

Posted: November 8, 2012 5:44 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2012 5:00 a.m.
Denise Schnese/C-I

Graham (left) watches the election returns with his wife, Sarah at the Robert Mills Courthouse.

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A first time candidate for political office, Tony Scully can be sworn in as Camden’s new mayor as early as Dec. 1 after beating incumbent Jeffrey Graham in the general election.

Scully, who won by 91 votes, said he was “elated” after news of his victory became official.   

“I’m thrilled with all the community support. I think I won because I’ve been surrounded by the most wonderful people in my life and certainly in Camden,” Scully said. “I feel so grateful to be able to serve this community with everyone’s help.”

Before the final results trickled in Tuesday night, Scully joked that he was seemingly “waiting to hear biopsy results,” but those jitters faded as his wife Joy and other supporters crowded around him and offered congratulations.

“I didn’t realize how nervous I was about this until mid-afternoon and how much I wanted to win this. I think of myself as more collegial than competitive, but it got to me after awhile,” Scully said.

Newly elected City Councilwoman Laurie Parks and candidate Peggy Ogburn joined Scully at TenEleven Galleria in Camden to watch election returns. 

Throughout the night, he stood alongside supporters and watched as campaign volunteers marked dry erase boards with the latest precinct results.  

As it became clear he would be victorious, campaign supporter Charles King hushed the crowd and resoundingly announced that Scully held a strong, likely insurmountable lead. The mayor-elect was quickly engulfed with applause, pats on the back, and hugs, which also included well wishes from Parks, Ogburn and current City Councilman Willard Polk. 

Noting Parks and Polk, Scully said he envisioned a new outlook for the city’s government.

“Now we have three people on council who want to work together for the good of the city, bring people together and partner with the county,” Scully declared.

Parks expressed gratitude for her support and championed Scully’s win, noting this will be a year of transition. 

“I’m honored that the people saw in me the kind of leader that they wanted to elect. Everybody says ‘well the hard work is over,’ but the hard work has yet to begin,” she said. “I was thrilled Tony won. I knew he was the right guy for the job and I’m just glad other people realized that also.” 

The election’s outcome also hinged on a referendum asking voters to decide if the city should continue plans to construct a recreational facility that would be administered by a third party.

While the referendum’s language did not ask voters to consider how the complex’s construction would be funded, the city had indicated it would use proceeds from the city’s hospitality tax. Scully, as well as Ogburn, Parks and Polk, had voiced opposition towards following the city’s plans to construct a complex in such a way.

Noting the referendum’s final tally of 1,932 ‘no’ votes to 1,678 ‘yes’ votes, which effectively shot down the proposal, Scully said he anticipated the “no vote to come out on top,” but was surprised by the number of ‘yes’ votes.

“That tells us that we must pay special attention to the need for better recreational activities for families and particularly for teenagers,” he said. “Recreation is obviously going to be something that’s always important, but it’s also important that we do it correctly.”  

As mayor, Scully also pledged to “work harmoniously” with Drakeford and Councilman Walter Long. Drakeford and Long have supported efforts to build a sports complex using the city’s hospitality tax. 

Describing Drakeford as a “good friend” and Long as someone who is “so admired in this community,” Scully expressed optimism that council could move forward and work together to ensure a “prosperous future for the city.”

Scully also praised his opponent, saying Graham had “worked very hard” for the city during the last four years.

“He’s very well liked and he can only go forward from this point. He has many options and I wish him the best,” he said.

Graham’s day began shortly after polls opened at 7 a.m. as he greeted voters alongside his wife Sara and eldest son Edwards at the Hobkirk’s Hill precinct.  

After receiving well wishes from voters and casting his vote, he quickly switched back into campaign mode as he stood at the corner of Broad and DeKalb Streets with his campaign signs. Looking to rally support, he smiled and waved at passing motorists.

Much of the afternoon, Graham continued to make his presence known to voters by visiting various precincts within the city and speaking with individuals in passing.

With the polls closing at 7 p.m., Graham joined his family and supporters at the Robert Mill’s Courthouse to watch election returns. He was also joined by Drakeford and council candidate Johnny Deal at the courthouse along with their respective campaign teams.

The crowed watched results come in on a large projector. The numbers came in at a steady rate, but stalled as the absentee votes were being counted. Once the final votes were entered and it became clear that Camden would have a new mayor, Graham addressed his supporters and conceded the election to Scully.

“Obviously Tony Scully is going to be the new mayor. I wish him well. But you know me, I love this place. Camden is our home. We are going to continue to strive to do better things for the city and we have a lot to be proud of,” Graham said.  

He also acknowledged Drakeford’s victory and thanked his supporters.

“I will support Councilwoman Drakeford and Councilman Long as they continue their work.  This was a tough election. Thank you for all of your support and your friendship,” Graham said.

Drakeford, elected to a third term, described her win as “bittersweet” in light of losses by Deal and Graham.

“I want to say wholeheartedly that I thank everyone for their support. Thank you for believing in me and the work I am trying to do,” she said.

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