Mallett new mayor in East Spencer
By Karissa Minn
EAST SPENCER — Barbara Mallett will be the town of East Spencer’s new mayor, according to unofficial counts after Tuesday’s elections.
The town also will gain a new alderman, Curtis Cowan, who is set to replace Carlton Ellis on the board. Aldermen John Noble III and Theodore Gladden have been re-elected.
Those three will serve alongside current board members Phronice Johnson, Rosa Burris and Tammy Corpening.
Mallett, who has previously served as alderwoman, earned 210 votes (80.15 percent). Her opponent, Robert Smith, received 51 (19.47 percent). A total of 262 votes were cast in the mayoral race.
Mallett, 64, was given numerous hugs by supporters and other candidates after hearing election results at the town hall Monday night.
“It feels great. It feels wonderful,” Mallett said. “This was a long time coming, but we’re here, and now the work begins. What we need from everybody is prayer for the board, for this town and for the citizens.”
Current East Spencer Mayor John Cowan chose not to run for re-election. Mallett credits him and the current board for “keeping the town together” over the past two years.
“They’re really going to make my job easy coming in, because they’ve done some wonderful things,” she said.
Smith, 48, said he’s not sure if he’ll run again. He has run unsuccessfully for the town board in the past.
“It’s evident that the town wants changes, but it keeps voting the same people in and getting the same results,” Smith said. “I’m not saying Barbara won’t move the town, but she’s been on the board before. Quite a few of the aldermen have.”
While two out of three winners for East Spencer aldermen are incumbents, newcomer Cowan appears to be the top vote-getter with 162 votes (22.69 percent).
Cowan, 41, said he thinks the citizens are, in fact, ready for change. After getting a congratulatory call Monday night from his second cousin, the current mayor, Cowan said he’s happy and “ready to go to work.”
“I just want to thank the citizens of East Spencer, and I’m going to work hard and do the best I can,” Cowan said. “This is a new beginning and a fresh start for the town of East Spencer.”
Noble and Gladden have been re-elected with 159 (22.27 percent) and 146 votes (20.45 percent), respectively.
“I thank the whole community,” Noble said. “I think this is my eighth term. … and I’m just tickled to death that people have enough confidence in me to carry on the workings of the town. I’ll do everything I can to make it a better place to live.”
Noble, 64, has worked with Mallett before and said “it will be a pleasure” to do so again. He said Cowan will be a good addition to the board.
“The only thing he needs to do is just listen and learn, like I did when I first got on, and I think he’ll be fine,” Noble said.
Leaving the East Spencer Board of Aldermen is Carlton Ellis, with an unofficial vote count of 74 (10.36 percent). Following in the counts are two former aldermen John L. Rustin Sr., with 64 votes (8.96 percent), and Titus King Sr., with 61 (8.54 percent). In total, 714 votes were cast in the race for alderman.
King, 46, said he likely won’t run for office again unless people approach him and ask him to run.
“You can only help somebody if they allow you to help them,” King said. “People are just going to have to live with the results. If the problems we have get worse, they’re the ones that are going to have to stick with that.”
Rustin, 86, also said he thinks this election marks the end of his political career. In the past, he served as alderman and as mayor.
“I threw in my hat this year because I just wanted to keep busy,” Rustin said.
One write-in vote was cast for mayor. There were 48 cast for alderman — not enough to elect write-in candidate Marshall Gore Jr., who said he’ll “more than likely” run again.
“I should’ve gotten on the ballot, and I didn’t, but it was a good experience,” said Gore, 51.
These totals don’t include 13 provisional ballots and 18 absentee ballots, which will be counted later by the Rowan County Board of Elections.
Gladden and Ellis were unavailable for comment Monday night.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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