After capturing more than 57 percent of the votes in Tuesday night balloting, Sue Catron will serve as Tahlequah’s next mayor.
Catron said she was thankful for those who jumped in to help her on the campaign trail.
“I started getting calls and I got calls from people who said, not, ‘What can I do’; they said, ‘Here’s what I’ve got going,’ and they had things up and running before me before I even realized where we were headed,” she said. “All the volunteers, all of you who called your friends, all of you who talked to the lady next to you at the grocery store, all of you who texted – thank you."
Catron acknowledged the race had been contentious.
"We've got a period of healing that has to happen in this town, and so your job's not over. It’s going to take every one of you working and healing the breach that’s happened in this campaign," she said. "I wish all the best to Mayor Nichols; I’m looking forward to working with him as we go through the transition and make Tahlequah a better place.”
Tahlequah voters started casting their ballots for the municipal election with early voting taking place Thursday and Friday. In Tahlequah, more than 8,200 are registered to vote, but only 2,052 votes were cast in the mayoral race.
Nichols received 880 votes, while Catron brought in 1,172.
According to Cherokee County Election Board Secretary Rusty Clark, a total of 172 people voted Thursday, and 269 on Friday.
Nichols said that despite the loss, he’s not “a giving-up kind of guy.”
“There’s just really no quit in me,” he said. “You haven’t seen the last of me. I want you all to know that. Tahlequah is my passion. it’s my home town and just because I’m not going to serve in this capacity, does not mean I won’t be around trying to make this a better place to live, to work, and to just build life.”
Of the registered voters, 2,591 live within Ward 3 and 1,870 live in Ward 4.
Ward 3 Council Stephen Highers won re-election with 404 votes, while Dr. John Uzzo received 239 votes.
Challenger Trae Ratliff narrowly defeated incumbent Joshua Bliss for the Ward 4 City Council position. Ratliff received 215 votes to Bliss’ 198.
While Nichols will no longer serve as the Tahlequah mayor, he said the city should have “pretty decent government, if only because of” Councilors Dower Combs, Ward 2; Highers; and newly elected Ratliff.
“I think we’re going to be able to contain most of the damage and be able to continue to move things pretty well forward, having a very solid majority,” Nichols said.
Grant D. Crawford contributed to this article.