Recount set in Ocean Springs mayoral race

Scott Walker
Scott Walker
Mayor Connie Moran
Mayor Connie Moran

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Ocean Springs mayoral race is headed for a recount.

Mayor Connie Moran defeated challenger Scott Walker by less than 100 votes following a record voter turnout Tuesday. After absentee votes and affidavits were tallied, just 88 votes separate the two candidates.

Most everyone had expected a tight race between the first term Democrat and the young Republican challenger. A historic voter turnout helped make it one of the closest contests ever.

It was a quiet late morning in downtown Ocean Springs the day after decision day. Twenty four hours earlier, a get-out-the-vote political frenzy covered the city.

"About 43 percent of our registered voters. So, we were busy all day long and everything went smoothly," said Ocean Springs City Clerk Shelly Ferguson.

Post-election Wednesday finds the city clerk preparing for a recount.  Scott Walker requested the check after losing by less than 100 votes.

"Anytime it's that close, you expect to get a recount. And we're going to do that. Our election commissioners will meet and they will re-check the machine. They will re-check the absentee ballots and the affidavits," said Ferguson.

"What a great time for politics in Ocean Springs," said Kris Kwitzky.

There was plenty of campaign chatter around Kwitzky's bar these past few weeks before the vote.

"I think Scott really energized the city. The younger people are wanting to vote now. They're wanting to understand what's going on a little bit more. And Connie, her experience ended up paying off in the long run, so good for both of them," said the bar owner.

One of the keys to Mayor Connie Moran's close victory can be found in the heart of downtown, at the Villa Maria retirement home.

That Ward 2 polling place had the heaviest voter turnout in the city. And Mayor Moran won 56 percent of the nearly 1,100 ballots cast here.

"It was busy. There was a lot of people in and out. I don't know how many voters they had, but I heard it was about a thousand," said Margaret Manning, a resident at the Villa.

Villa resident Ralph Boutwell says the high turnout is good to see.

"Oh yeah, yeah. We know they're interested. Maybe it will bring them out more," he said.

Mary Mendenhall wasn't surprised by the voting results in the mayoral race.

"I expected it possibly to be closer than that," she said.

The recount is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at three o'clock at Ocean Springs City Hall. City Clerk Ferguson said she doesn't expect any change in the electronic ballot count, which gave Mayor Moran a 103 vote margin of victory.

There are 186 absentee ballots and 63 affidavits that will also be re-checked.

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