By Lucas Vance email@example.com
April 10, 2014
RIDGEWAY — Preliminary results from Tuesday’s municipal election in Ridgeway appear to have produced a new member to town council.
Although results are still unofficial, it is believed Heath Cookendorfer received 47 write-in votes to unseat councilwoman Belva Bush, who received 41 votes.
Bush, who was also running for mayor, lost that race as well to incumbent Charlene Herring 91 votes to 27.
“I regret that (Bush will no longer be on council) because she has been a good council person and I’ve enjoyed working with her,” Herring stated. “But I do feel like Ridgeway is in good hands if we have her (Bush) or Heath (Cookendorfer),”
Bush was the first African-American woman to serve on Ridgeway’s Town Council.
Winner of her third term, Herring said the voters convinced her to continue her political career.
“I didn’t know whether to run or not, but the voters were firm that I need to be right where I am and continue to lead Ridgeway and make things happen here,” Herring said.
Russ Brown will return to council for his second term after besting the field with 98 votes.
The Fairfield County Election Commission will meet for a hearing at 10 a.m. Friday to determine the validity of Cookendorfer’s write-ins.
Debbie Stidham, director of Fairfield County Voter Registration and Elections, said there were different spellings for one person, with the majority appearing to be for the same person.
The election commission will determine if those spellings were intended for Cookendorfer, who declared to run as a write-in on March 29.
Stidham noted that there is no time limit for a candidate to declare as a write-in, although it is a courtesy for the elections office.
“They’re not legally required to, but it is easier for the commission to declare a voter’s intent,” she said.
Fairfield County’s Election Commission members include chairman Betty Trapp, vice chairman Carolyn Prioleau, John Glenn Sr., Deane Smith, Alice Rice, Robert Drake and Thomas Chase.
Cookendorfer ran for council twice previously, but was unsuccessful.
He said he saw an opportunity to win a council seat with Bush running for Mayor.
“It was a last minute decision,”Cookendorfer said. “I figured I’d throw my name in and see if the third time is a charm and I decided to run.”
Originally from Alexandria, Ky., Cookendorfer has lived in Ridgeway for 10 years.
He is currently working for a company called Johnson Controls in Blythewood and hopes to graduate with a bachelors in business in July.
With work and school on his plate, Cookendorfer welcomed the challenge of government as well.
“I’m almost done with school and I’m the kind of guy who likes to take on a lot of things and stay busy,” he noted.
Cookendorfer was previously serving as the chairman for the Board of Zoning Appeals in Ridgeway.
Herring anticipates that Cookendorfer’s experience in town business will soften the learning curve of council.
“He will have a little bit of experience coming in and he cares about Ridgeway and has always been active in the community,” she stated.
Over half of Ridgeway’s registered voters showed up to the ballot box on Tuesday.
“That is remarkable,” Herring said. “I’m so happy citizens came out and expressed their vote and their wishes for their town. That is so important because sometimes people become lackadaisical and they think their vote is not important. I’m just so proud of the citizens of this town.”
The Herald Independent will post official results online Friday at www.heraldindependent.com.