Tuesday's municipal elections didn't hold much luck for Democrats in either the Bay St. Louis or Diamondhead races -- the Bay's former Ward 2 Councilwoman Wendy McDonald lost her bid to retake her seat from current Councilman Gene Hoffman by a mere four votes; and in Diamondhead, Jim Hightower got only half as many votes as Gerard Maher in their race for the councilman-at-large seat vacated by Tink L'Ecuyer.
Diamondhead residents also voted in large numbers against the city's referendums on consolidating the Diamondhead Water & Sewer District and Diamondhead Fire District under the council's umbrella.
"It was a close race, as I expected," Hoffman said Tuesday after the ballots were counted. "I'm just happy that we were able to pull it out. It was a very hot day and everybody worked real hard. I'm proud of the team and proud of the effort that was given on both sides. I'm glad to see the public came out and voted for me or for Wendy."
Hoffman is the unofficial winner of the Ward 2 contest, earning 188 votes to McDonald's 184.
Bay St. Louis City Clerk Sissy Gonzales that there are "three potential ballots" still outstanding in Ward 2. There are two affidavit ballots which will be counted on Wednesday. She said that there is one absentee ballot that was mailed out and has not been returned yet.
All the other Bay positions were already decided -- Mayor Mike Favre, Ward 3 Councilman Jeffrey Reed and Ward 6 Councilman Josh DeSalvo were all unopposed; Councilman-at-Large Gary Knoblock, Ward 1 Councilman Doug Seal, and Ward 5 Councilman Buddy Zimmerman all retained their seats in the primary election and were unopposed in the general; and Kyle Lewis won the Ward 4 primary against incumbent Larry Smith and was likewise unopposed Tuesday.
In Diamondhead, Hightower said he got a serious "whipping," but he was pleased that he got as many votes as he did.
"I got more votes than any Democratic candidate ever has in the history of Diamondhead," he said.
In unofficial tallies, Hightower earned 754 votes to Maher's 1,541.
Mayor Nancy Depreo, Ward 1 Councilman Shane Finley, Ward 2 Councilman Alan Moran, Ward 3 candidate Richard "Ricky" Sheppard Jr. and Ward 4 Councilman Charles "Chuck" Clark, all Republicans, were all unopposed in either the primary or general elections.
City Clerk Jeannie Klein said Tuesday that there are still 24 affidavit ballots outstanding. The results should be certified within the next five days, she said.
On the consolidation referendums, in unofficial totals, 647 residents voted "yes" to pursuing consolidation of the Diamondhead Water & Sewer District with city services, while 1,499 voted "no." As for consolidating the Diamondhead Fire District, 1,825 were against the measure, while only 519 were for it.
The Diamondhead Water & Sewer Board issued an official statement Tuesday shortly after the results came in: "Today, the residents of Diamondhead, in a larger voter turnout, rejected the city’s two referendums to consolidate Water & Sewer and Fire Districts under city services.
"Unofficial results excluding absentee ballots indicate 72.4 percent voted 'No' to consolidate the Water & Sewer District, and 77 percent voted 'No' to consolidate the Fire District."
"First of all, we want to thank the voters," DWSD Board Chairman John Kirschenbaum said in the statement. "We appreciate their confidence in us to provide Diamondhead clean, reliable water and sewer services. This is something we do 24/7, 365 days a year, and we are pleased to serve the community with this vital service.
"While we opposed the city’s referendum, we look forward to discussing Diamondhead’s future with the city and other leaders.”
The city "asked for a statement from the community and they got a statement from the community," DWSD board member Bryon Griffith said. "It's very clear tonight that a great majority of the residents of Diamondhead know that we provide quality water and sewer services to the city and they would like us to continue to do so."
"We're very thankful for the support of the community," Fire Chief Mike Munger said. "I think they realize that it really is about service to the community, and we're happy to continue that service."