Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TOP STORY > >Cypert, Hillman prevail in mayor runoffs

By Joan McCoy and RICK KRON
Leader staff writers

WaterWorks commissioner Bill Cypert handily put a stop to Stubby Stumbaugh’s efforts to be mayor of Cabot again in a runoff vote Tuesday, while in Sherwood, Mayor Virginia Hillman held back a feisty challenge from Alderman Sheila Sulcer.

In the runoff race for the Ward 3, Position 1 alderman seat in Cabot, Angie Armstrong Hoschouer defeated Richard Cannon.

“I’m humbled that the voters of Cabot have confidence in me,” Cypert said. “And I’m excited. Cabot’s got a very bright future.”

Few folks were willing to predict the outcome of the runoff race for Cabot mayor. Cypert was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 2 general election, with Stumbaugh finishing a solid second. 

Alderman Eddie Cook, the third-place finisher, threw his support behind Cypert, which clearly helped Cypert sprint away from Stumbaugh.

Cypert topped Stumbaugh by nearly 1,400 votes in the runoff election. Cypert finished with 2,022 votes, or 79 percent, to Stumbaugh’s 845 votes, or 21 percent.

Cypert, the secretary and spokesman for Cabot Water and Wastewater, campaigned through the general election on what he could give Cabot—a plan for orderly growth similar to what he had helped develop for Cabot WaterWorks. 

But for the runoff, Cypert switched tactics and started talking about what he called the turmoil four years ago that had been Stumbaugh’s administration.

This was Stumbaugh’s third loss since he was elected mayor in 2002. He also lost races for Congress and the Cabot City Council.

Cypert said last week that he had been criticized for his negative campaigning. 

Whether that new strategy won him the office is not yet clear, but Cypert said after the votes were counted that he was simply relieved that it is over and he was ready to go to work.

Former Alderman Odis Waymack, Stumbaugh’s nemesis when he was mayor and Cypert’s campaign manager, said he had always believed Cypert would win, but he was pleased that the margin was so wide.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, who was elected state senator earlier this month, said he will start working with Cypert next week to transition into January when he takes over.

Stumbaugh said it was a hard-fought battle and the loss was a tough one. “But I’ve got to tell you, I’m 43 years old and have lived a most fulfilled life you can imagine. Losing ain’t easy, but somebody had to,” the one-time mayor said.

He said he had called Cypert and congratulated him and wished him the best. 

“We don’t agree on a lot of issues, but we want what is best for Cabot,” Stumbaugh said.

He added that he was grateful for all the support. “I had some of the greatest support this city and state have ever seen.”

Stumbaugh said he’d stay active in civic organizations and continue to support Cabot anyway he can.

For Mayor Hillman, winning the runoff meant a short celebration at her church and then getting ready for work.

“We are all excited about the win and I appreciate everyone who voted for me. We are looking at a four good years ahead of us,” Hillman said. 

Hillman defeated Sulcer by about 700 votes. Hillman garnered 2,374 votes, or 58.5 percent, while Sulcer netted 1,686 votes, or 41.5 percent.

After getting news of her victory Tuesday evening, Hillman said she would be “back at it tomorrow.” She said she had a 9 a.m. meeting to prepare for and a budget to finalize. “We’ve got another meeting next Tuesday on the budget,” she said.

Her challenger, because of the loss, will be out of city politics come Jan 1. When Sulcer threw her name into the mayor’s race, it opened up her alderman seat. Toni Butler, a former alderman, ran unopposed for Sulcer’s seat in the general election and will take over Jan. 1.

On Tuesday night, Sulcer said, “The citizens made their decision and I’m very humbled by the support I received.”

In the runoff for Cabot City Council, Hoschouer defeated Cannon 1,458 to 1,146 votes. 

Hoschouer is the daughter of Alderman Tom Armstrong, who died Nov. 14. He held the Ward 3 Position 1 seat that she will hold beginning Jan. 1. 

“My first reaction was to cry because Daddy won’t be here to see me sworn in,” Hoschouer said. “But I’m looking forward to serving. There are good people on the council and I think very highly of the new mayor. I think we will have a good team.”

Cannon came in first in the general election.

He had experience as a council member in Barling, outside Fort Smith, said the loss was disappointing but not devastating.

“These things happen,” Cannon said. “But we ran a good race.”