Waxhaw set for recount

Down by seven votes, Gregory asks for a second look

by Brian Carlton

Waxhaw residents will have to wait a week before learning who won the second open seat on the town council.

Current council member Phillip Gregory, who finished seven votes behind newcomer Sean Poccia for the second open seat, asked county election officials for a recount.

If the vote totals remain unchanged, Poccia and Mike Stewart, the other challenger will replace loosing incumbent Gregory and Mayor Pro Tem Martin Lane.

“Mr. Gregory did present us with a request for a recount,” Union County Elections Director John Whitley said. “Next Tuesday the board meets to certify the election results. By then, we’ll have the provisional ballots counted and after that, I’ll present his request to the board of elections.”

One seat has already been decided, regardless of the recount results. Stewart took 30 percent of the vote or 587 ballots, over 130 more than anyone else in the race. Sean Poccia came in second, currently winning the second open seat with 450 votes. Lane finished third with 446 and Gregory got 443.

“If the difference is not more than
1 percent of the total number of votes cast, then someone can ask for a recount,” Whitley said. “In the Waxhaw race, 1 percent of the votes would be just under 10 or less. Since Mr. Gregory lost by seven votes, he fits that requirement.”

Whitley said there are currently 101 provisional votes throughout the county that his department needs to sort through before Tuesday, which could also affect the final tally. Provisional ballots are those that have to be checked, if a person voted in the wrong precinct or filled out information incorrectly.

“The vote was so close, I just wanted to make sure the residents got a fair and honest count,” Gregory said. “I’m not looking to take anybody’s seat away but we’re talking about four votes between the second and third place, seven votes between second place and myself.”

Gregory said he was surprised at the 17.75 percent turnout of Waxhaw residents, not expecting that many people to vote in an off year election.

“We knew it was close and we knew there was a real possibility of a recount, so it’s not surprising,” Poccia said. “Hopefully, the results will stand. I respect all of these guys. They’re great human beings and I would have been glad to work with any of them.”

Poccia said he looks forward to working with Mike Stewart on the council, saying he enjoyed the campaign.

“The experience was great, spending time talking with people,” Poccia said. “I found there were a lot of folks who want to contribute, who want to get involved, but they don’t know how. There are passionate people in this town. We have people who are equestrian experts, we have triathletes, we need to give them ways to get engaged.”

If the election results stand, Poccia said his first priority on the council would be to help establish an operational plan.

“Years ago, you had people coming to Waxhaw from all areas for our antiques,” Poccia said. “It was a destination. With the influx of people over the years, where in that transition, we lost our identity. When you don’t have a clear cut idea of who you want to be when you grow up, it’s hard to develop.”

To do that, Poccia wants to build a strategy, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Waxhaw, to help develop a brand.

“There’s a unique opportunity here,” Poccia said. “Mike Stewart has phenomenal business knowledge. I’m a technologist. Joyce Blythe is a wonderful historian. We all have these unique skillsets that we bring to the leadership team. It’s time to use those skills and plan for the
future.”

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