By JOSH NEWTON
An April 2 runoff election for Tahlequah voters will determine the city’s next chief of police and Ward 2 city councilor.
Most voters – 37.22 percent, or 753 votes – chose Nate King for police chief in this week’s balloting, with incumbent Clay Mahaney drawing 32.53 percent, or 658 votes.
“[Tuesday night’s] numbers showed that close to 70 percent of Tahlequah’s voters are ready for a change in the police department,” said King. “I’m honored that the citizens of Tahlequah have shown faith and support in me and voted for me. I’m also thankful beyond belief for my friends, family, and supporters who have dedicated themselves to this election and hung their hats on me.”
King said he admires Mahaney, along with challengers Steve Farmer and Charley Batt, for running a clean race.
“I also admire them for taking an interest in their community and putting themselves under the microscope like they did,” said King. “I look forward to the runoff election.”
Mahaney said he appreciates his family, friends and supporters who worked alongside as he campaigned for re-election.
“We will continue to work hard to gain the trust and vote of the people, and endeavor to persevere in April,” said Mahaney. “A lot of times candidates who run for offices are friends running for the same position, as in this case, and I want to personally thank Steve Farmer and Charley Batt for running an honest, clean campaign.”
Mahaney said he looks forward to a continuing friendship with each of his three challengers.
Farmer, who was chief of police before Mahaney was elected in 2009, pulled in 459 votes, or 22.69 percent.
“I thought it was a good campaign; we knew it would be close, and we appreciate all of our supporters for doing everything they could,” said Farmer. “We couldn’t have done what we did without them.”
Farmer said he has decided to support King in the runoff, and has offered to help him “in any way possible.”
Batt did not answer a phone call from the Press seeking comment Tuesday evening. He drew 7.56 percent, or 153 votes.
Ward 2 voters will also go to the polls in a runoff to decide who will represent them on the city council. Charles Carroll garnered 34.02 percent, or 246 votes, followed by Jonathan Wells, who took in 203 votes, or 28.08 percent.
Carroll said he plans to “hit the ground running” in the weeks leading up to the runoff election.
“I have certain beliefs and ideas that I’ve supported and upheld myself for many, many years, and I don’t intend to do anything dramatically different,” said Carroll.
“It looks like Mr. Wells and I will be out seeing each other in the campaign. I don’t have any agenda against him or any of the others who ran for this office. I had an enjoyable relationship with the others, and we had some discussions one-on-one. It’s been a very pleasant experience.”
Wells said he has respect for Carroll and the other two men who sought the Ward 2 seat, Gary Cacy and David Whitekiller. He added that the race was “very rewarding.”
“I think everybody did an outstanding job with staying focused on the issues during a pretty crowded race,” said Wells.
“I’m more than pleased at the results, and I look forward to spending the next couple of months working really hard to hopefully narrow that gap. It was definitely a learning experience, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
Whitekiller drew 161 votes, or 22.27 percent, and Cacy received 113 votes, or 15.63 percent.
City voters also chose to keep Street Commissioner Mike Corn four more years. Corn received 1,269 votes, or 62.98 percent, compared to challenger Terry Garrett, who received 746 votes, or 37.02 percent.
“We’re going to continue with what we’re doing,” said Corn. “We’ve got some projects going right now and I’d like to see the completion of those. I’d like to do more black-topping, depending on the money and how things go with bond and everything.”
Corn said he is happy with the results.
“I had a bunch of people working for me in this campaign,” said Corn. “I also need to give a pat on the back to my employees, who are a hard-working bunch of guys.”
Results of Tuesday’s are unofficial, and will be certified Friday evening.