With seven affidavit ballots still uncounted, incumbent Mayor Tommy Schafer is ahead by one vote in the Diamondhead mayoral race.
Schafer earned 1,124 votes to Ernie Knobloch’s 1,123 in the Republican primary runoff. There are no Democratic or independent candidates, so the runoff will decide the race.
“I don’t know what to think right now,” Schafer said. “I’m glad everyone got to vote and we’ll see how it turns out.”
Ty Necaise, chairman of the municipal Republican Executive Committee, said the outcome could be known as early as Wednesday or as late as in five days. One affidavit voter has that long to prove his or her vote is valid by showing a photo ID.
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In the meantime, the ballots will be in a fireproof vault at City Hall.
The entire vote will be rechecked by the committee and the affidavits counted or rejected.
In Ward 4’s runoff, challenger Kodie Koenenn defeated incumbent Ron Rech for that City Council seat with a 478-229 victory. Again, there are no other general election candidates.
The past couple of years have been tumultuous in the Coast’s newest city. Schafer, the first elected mayor, often argued with city manager Clovis Reed. Reed resigned May 2, the day of the party primaries.
A year earlier, Schafer had tried to have Reed suspended after Reed gave himself two raises without council approval. The council retroactively granted those raises, and raises for all city employees. It also requested performance and compliance review by the Office of the State Auditor.
That caused another controversy, when Auditor Stacey Pickering discussed the audit with four councilmen but excluded Schafer and Councilwoman Nancy Depreo. The state Ethics Commission found that meeting violated the Open Meetings Act.
A footnote in the audit found Schafer had improperly applied for a grant, an application Pickering’s office said should have been made by the city manager. It also attempted to clarify the roles of the mayor and city manager, saying the mayor is “titular head of the city” and “president of the city council.” The city manager is responsible for running the city.
Reed, hired in 2014, was the second city manager for the young city. The first, Richard Rose, was fired earlier that year.
Tommy Schafer (I)
Ward 4 Councilman, Republican
Ron Rech (I)
Note: (I) stands for incumbent. Total votes are the votes available by press time Tuesday, not including absentee ballots.