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Seaford upsets Withers for China Grove mayor

Winners

CHINA GROVE – In an upset, Town Councilman Charles Seaford won the China Grove mayor’s race Tuesday.

Seaford upset incumbent Lee Withers with 39 votes to spare. Seaford received 54.26% of votes to Withers’ 45.52%. Seaford will serve a four-year term and vacate his Town Council spot.

Seaford, who has served two and a half terms or 10 years as a councilman, expressed his excitement about the victory in an interview with the Post.

“I’m walking on cloud nine. This has been a lot of hard work from a lot of different people,” Seaford said. “I’ve had the council behind me, and my neighbor across the road, he’s done a lot for campaigning, helped me put out door hangers and more.”

Seaford said his immediate plans include continuing efforts to market the town.

Seaford said his focus will also include keeping taxes low, industrial growth, paving roads, keeping China Grove’s small-town atmosphere and continuing the tradition of events such as Christmas in the Grove and Farmers Day.

“This is going to be a new chapter in my life,” Seaford said. “I’m retired and looking forward to making China Grove known for what we can be. We’re a good small town.”

Seaford will assume the position of mayor at the council meeting at the end of December.

“I think the world of Lee Withers. We’ve both been friends through this, and I expect nothing else after this,” he said.

Withers said that, like anyone who doesn’t come out on top, he’s disappointed.

“But there are a lot of positives here,” Withers said. “We had a better turnout than we had in recent years, which is good. I’ve stayed this very positive through this whole piece although I had a pretty negative attack by a council member that I feel was unwarranted and full of untruths.”

That’s a reference to a letter written by Councilman Steve Stroud, who endorsed Seaford. Asked Tuesday, Seaford said he didn’t think the letter had a major effect on the race.

Withers was optimistic, though, about the future of China Grove, saying, “The sun will come up tomorrow.”

“With a lot of prayer, I hope that the board will continue on with that good work and do what’s right for the citizens of China Grove,” he said. “I wish there was a different outcome, by far, but I am excited that there is a new door that will open for me. I am interested in seeing what that will look like in the days to come and to spending more time with my family.”

Withers said he wishes Seaford well.

Before being elected mayor in 2015, Withers had previously served two terms on the Town Council.

Rodney Phillips and Steve Stroud were unopposed in their bids for re-election to the Town Council.

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