Cleveland has new mayor, two new board members

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CLEVELAND — The town has a new mayor-elect and two new commissioners, with one current board member out by one vote.
The mayor’s office was a foregone conclusion. Current Mayor John Steele did not seek re-election, and Danny Gabriel, the current mayor pro tem, was the only person to file for the seat.
Winning seats on the Board of Commissioners were Gerald Osborne and Richard Taylor, along with Pat Phifer, who edged out fellow incumbent Travis Summitt by a vote count of 73-72. Results are unofficial until the Rowan Board of Elections certifies the vote.
Osborne led the field with 102 votes, followed by Taylor with 91.
“That’s a good feeling,” Osborne said of his vote total. “I visited most of the houses in Cleveland, so it paid, I guess, the extra work I did.”
Osborne said he hopes to help improve communication between the board and residents, especially about police department activities and the town’s water and sewer system.
Taylor repeated Tuesday night what he said during the campaign, that the board done a good job and he just wants to be part of it.
“All of them have been doing great. I wasn’t running because I was trying to fix anything. I was running to try to help,” he said.
Along with Mary Frank Fleming-Adkins and John Bradford — whose seats weren’t up for election this year — Osborne and Taylor will join Phifer on the town board.
Phifer, who won his sixth full term on the board, said he’s known both men a long time — he called Osborne “a great person in general” and Taylor “a strong guy, a level-headed guy” — and looks forward to working with them.
He only wishes, he said, that there had been enough seats on the board for all the candidates to win.
“I’m glad I won, yes, but I hate that anybody had to lose because you really had good people there,” he said. “There’s not a bad candidate. Everybody in Cleveland has Cleveland’s best interest at heart.”
Summitt, who lost his seat, called all the winners “capable, and … I think they’ll do us a good job.”
There are no provisional ballots to be counted in Cleveland, but with the margin so close, Summitt could request a recount, but said he probably won’t.
He’s not done in Cleveland politics, though.
“I’ll definitely run again,” he said. “I’m not done. I’m still one of the youngest ones up there, so I’ve got plenty of time.”
A total of 129 people cast ballots in the Cleveland races, for a turnout of 22.91 percent.