Mike Favre was elected mayor of Bay St. Louis on Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Jeff Harding with 86 percent of the vote.
Favre, a Democrat, gave up his councilman-at-large seat to run for mayor against two-term Democrat incumbent Les Fillingame. The two were neck-and-neck during the Democratic primaries on May 2 as Fillingame grabbed just 23 votes more than Favre.
The third Democratic candidate, Rachael Ramsey, collected 166 votes — just enough to force Favre and Fillingame into a runoff on May 16 where Favre rallied past the incumbent by 116 votes.
Favre took the lead early on and never let up, clinching a landslide 85 percent of the vote. The total unofficial tally, including absentee ballots, was 1,974-339, favoring Favre.
“I’m thankful Jeff ran a clean campaign and I thank all my family and friends for their support,” Favre said. “I look forward to serving all the residents of Bay St. Louis. That’s what this job is about — serving the public.”
Harding, owner of Gulf Coast Pools, did not seem to mind losing as his primary goal was to see the incumbent defeated, he said.
“My ultimate goal was to defeat Les Fillingame,” Harding said in a statement issued after Tuesday’s race. “With Favre’s leadership, Bay St. Louis will once again become ‘A Place Apart’” The city’s official slogan is “A Place Apart.”
Content with the situation, Harding even held a Favre campaign sign while riding a unicycle down city streets before the polls closed on Tuesday.
“I’m going back to what I do best,” the swimming pool contractor said. “It’s hot, and you need a pool.”
Favre’s councilman-at-large seat will be filled by Republican Gary Knoblock, who narrowly defeated independent Susan M. “Susie” Veglia and Democrat Mike Weems with 36 percent of the vote.
In Ward 1, incumbent independent Doug Seal topped Republican George Williams with 60 percent of the vote.
In Ward 2, Eugene “Gene” J. Hoffman just beat out Democrat Carol Strohmetz by 3 votes. Incumbent Councilwoman Wendy McDonald lost in the Ward 2 Democratic primary to Strohmetz.
In Ward 4, newcomers Republican Larry Smith beat Democrat Tad Black. Councilman Bobby Compretta chose not to seek re-election.
Both incumbents lost in Wards 5 and 6. In Ward 5, Democrat Joey Boudin fell to Republican Buddy Zimmerman by just 12 votes; and in Ward 6, Republican Josh DeSalvo won over independent Lonnie Falgout.
Ward 3 Councilman Jeffrey Reed had no competition after defeating Kevin Paul Avery with 62 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.
Bay St. Louis results
Mike Favre (D)
Jeff Harding (R)
Councilman at large
Gary Knoblock (R)
Susan “Susie” Veglia (I)
Mike Weems (D)
Ward 1 councilman
Doug Seal (I)
George Williams (R)
Ward 2 councilman
Eugene “Gene” J. Hoffman (R)
Carol Strohmetz (D)
Ward 4 councilman
Larry Smith (R)
Tad Black (D)
Ward 5 councilman
Buddy Zimmerman (R)
Joey Boudin (D)
Ward 6 councilman
Josh DeSalvo (R)
Lonnie Falgout (I)