A special election to fill the vacant District 2 seat is headed for a Dec. 19 runoff between Vickey Carter Johnson and Baxley Oswalt in Phenix City, the top vote-getters from a field of three candidates.
With all votes counted including absentees, unofficial totals show Johnson collected 240 votes, or 49 percent of the vote, Oswalt had 225 or 46 percent, and Steve Franklin trailed with 26 or 5 percent of the vote. The special election was held to fill the seat left vacant after Councilmember Johnnie Robinson Jr., 61, died on Aug. 3.
Robinson was elected a year ago to represent District 2. He had lived in Phenix City for the last two decades and also had served on the Russell County Commission.
Probate Judge Alford Harden said Johnson was 10 votes short from having the required 50 percent majority to win without a runoff in an election that attracted only 491 voters to the polls.
“I do not understand voter apathy,” Harden said late Tuesday as the vote was tallied in council chambers on Broad Street. “That is one thing that is beyond me.”
With the Dec. 12 special election for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, some voters will go to the polls twice.
Johnson, a resident of Phenix City for 40 years, said she works for the Muscogee County School District. She has served as the vice president of Habitat for Humanity and the Phenix City-Russell County Library Board.
Johnson, 50, is a 1985 graduate of Central High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Troy University in 2010.
Oswalt, 77, is a life-long resident of Phenix City. He has edited the old Phenix City Herald and Citizen newspapers, taught art at the Phenix City intermediate school and produced a “Focus on East Alabama” show for Phenix City cable. He graduated from Central High School in 1958 and attended Auburn University. He has held a wide range of jobs over a career that spanned more than 30 years. He was minister of music for churches in the Columbus and Phenix City area for more than 30 years, served as an investigator for Equifax more than 25 years and owned a fame shop, The Gallery, for 30 years.