BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Bill Stallworth won Tuesday's ward two runoff in Biloxi. However, the 26 vote margin of victory was so close, challenger Felix Gines asked Biloxi's democratic executive committee to count the ballots again. The recount was Thursday morning at Biloxi City Hall.
A total of 661 paper ballots were counted by hand. Biloxi's democratic executive committee chair Chris Moore had to announce the candidate selected on every one of those ballots.
"Stallworth," said Moore, in a deep baritone voice. When he flipped over the next ballot, the name Gines came out of his mouth.
Gines got what he wanted. He got a chance to hear whether computers incorrectly tabulated Tuesday's runoff results.
He said machines had stopped a couple of times during Tuesday's election. So his supporters felt the recount was necessary.
"The main thing is just to put closure on it for my campaign, that's all," he said.
Gines and the incumbent sat a chair apart. They carefully monitored every pencil tally being marked down by democratic executive committee members.
There were moments when Gines name was announced numerous times in a row. It sounded like the challenger had cut into Stallworth's lead in Box 2A.
"We knew it was neck and neck in that particular box," admitted Stallworth. "And it was just like okay, I may be a little bit behind, but somewhere I've gotta catch up."
Stallworth was right. So were the runoff computers. The two term incumbent won Box 2A by a mere two votes. And he carried Box 2B by 25 votes. The recount process took less than an hour. And when it was over, Stallworth was still the winner.
"I think it's official now," said Gines, while reaching over to Stallworth to give him a handshake and a hug. He was satisfied in knowing his ward sent a loud and clear message to its incumbent.
"Absolutely. It's time to mend the gaps and bring the community back together," Gines said.
Stallworth heard the message.
"I'm glad of course about the outcome. But it clearly says we've got a lot of work to do. And we've got to pull people back together," he said.
Stallworth won the runoff, and the ward two council seat in Biloxi 344 to 317.