Saffo hangs on to Wilmington mayor seat as newcomer ousts council incumbent

Saffo hangs on to Wilmington mayor seat as newcomer ousts council incumbent

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After what turned out to be a tight contest, three incumbents and one newcomer are the unofficial winners in the races to lead the city of Wilmington.

After an already record tenure in office, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo kept his seat by topping challenger Devon Scott by just 630 votes according to unofficial results from the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

It was one of the closest mayoral races during the mayor’s tenure, with Saffo garnering only 51.6% of the vote, compared to nearly 82% the last time he had a major challenger.

Unofficial results from the NCSBE have Margaret Haynes and Neil Anderson retaining seats on the council, and Kevin Spears gaining a seat.

Anderson was only six votes ahead of incumbent Paul Lawler when the final precinct came in.

During the campaign, candidates cited concerns over growth and development, traffic and water quality as top issues.

Saffo said he thinks he and his fellow council members have accomplished quite a bit, but that after talking with citizens during the campaign, and given the close race, he can tell the public thinks there is work to be done.

“I believe that we’ve moved the city forward, [but] I also understand the concerns of the citizens, [they] have talked to me about and have said tonight,” he said.

Specifically, he said he’s heard the concerns about growth, infrastructure and trees, as well as resiliency in the face of storms such as Hurricane Florence.

“I think those are all significant issues that we the City Council will have to address in the coming year,” he said.

Spears said he was excited to bring a new perspective to the council.

“A lot of people want change, and I think they hear that from a lot of politicians early on and then four years later or two years later they don’t get to see what they were promised. So you know, I’m promising change and something tangible and that’s what I want to look forward to doing that.”

Spears said he wants Wilmington to be able to compete with places like Raleigh and Charlotte, but that he doesn’t want the city to lose sight of those already calling the area home.

“I think that for all the potential others see in Wilmington, the people who live here and who have lived here for a very long time and have not been able to benefit from the things that others come here and benefit from.”

The results will not be official until the New Hanover County Board of Elections canvasses the votes on Friday, Nov. 15.

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