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Connelly is Greenville's new mayor

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P.J Connelly stands up to make a speech as his wife Jaclyn listens during an election night party at Winslow's Tavern Tuesday evening.


Seth Thomas Gulledge and Brian Wudkwych
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The atmosphere at Winslow's Restaurant and Tavern was visibly elated Tuesday as P.J. Connelly and several City Council candidates and their supporters watched results roll in, confirming what many had started to believe early on — that Connelly would be the new mayor of Greenville. 

Connelly defeated Calvin Mercer, 5,786 to 4,354 votes, in complete but unofficial returns. He was joined at Winslow's for an election night viewing party by At-Large candidate Brian Meyerhoeffer, District 3 Candidate Will Bell and District 5 candidate William Litchfield, all who won their respective races in Tuesday’s municipal balloting. Former mayor Allen Thomas and District 2 Councilwomen Rose Glover also joined the festivities. 

Incumbent Councilman Rick Smiley retained his District 4 seat and Kandie Smith, who was appointed by the council to serve as mayor after Thomas stepped down, was elected to her old District 2 seat. The results from Pitt County Board of Elections are complete but unofficial. A canvass by the board on Nov. 17 will confirm the results.

After a victory speech thanking the city and his supporters, Connelly said he was feeling very good about the race and the future of Greenville. He said he hoped the election would be the beginning of a period of growth and good governance for the city. 

“I’m super excited. I think this is a great opportunity for the city,” the current District 5 councilman said. “We’re going to have a good council that’s very job oriented and public safety oriented. We’ve got a lot of opportunities ahead of us to continue with the good progress of the previous mayor.”

He said he wanted to bring the city together and move forward.

“The key of the counsel and the key of the mayor is to bring everyone together,” he said. “I’m looking forward for the opportunity to work with Rick Smiley and a few of the guys that were here tonight and Rose (Glover) and Kandie (Smith). They’re wonderful people and they were elected in each of their respective districts and we’ve got a great opportunity to help out the entire city, not just one district, but the entire city.”

Mercer, currently the At-large representative on the council, gathered with supporters nearby at Crave Uptown. He remained optimistic despite what he called a “set back.” He said he will continue to be involved in public affairs.

“I really, really am honored to have served the city and to have been a vehicle for your aspirations and your great desires for this city. There is a struggle and a commitment to quality growth in this city to be a great place to live and do business. And that continues. I’m just a moment in that movement that continues. And we cannot give up. I will not give up. I will be there with you, in front of the microphone. I’ll keep sending out newsletters. Commitment to quality growth and good government in this city is bigger than any one person in any one election. This is a set back. There is no question that this is a setback in a number of ways. But you cannot stop. This is our city we’re committed to it.”

Brian Meyerhoeffer, who works as a director in East Carolina University’s office of institutional integrity, defeated Chris Nunnally 5,933 to 4,510 votes in the city’s At-large race. After results were announced, Meyerhoeffer said he thought regardless of who won the election between himself and Nunnally, the city would be in good hands. He said meeting people like Nunnally was the highlight of his campaign, and he looked forward to his newfound duty. 

“I feel excited of course, I feel relieved, I feel tired, but I feel very lucky and fortunate to have met so many people across the city,” he said. “The best thing about this journey for me was all the people I got to meet, that I never would have had the opportunity to meet had I not done this. Now I have a duty to serve them. I’m ready, I’m excited about it and I’m excited for the future of Greenville.”

Nunnally said he was disappointed, but still looking forward to the future of Greenville, and was not worried.  

“I’m excited about the future of Greenville,” he said. “Obviously I’m disappointed in the result, but I really believe in Greenville and its citizens and I think that our best days are ahead.”

In District 3, Will Bell defeated Uriah Ward 1,223 to 875 votes. Bell said that we has ecstatic to have the opportunity to fulfill all the promises he made during his campaign. 

“I’m looking forward to making sure District 3 becomes the showcase of Greenville, and remains the showcase of Greenville,” he said. “I think there’s a ton of oppertunity for District 3 to really leverage itself as the next frontier of Greenville.” 

Ward said that he thought his campaign tried its best, and that is all he could ask for.  

“Obviously the results are pretty disappointing, but tonight I’m going to sleep well knowing I did all I could,” he said. “We had a really good showing, we actually got more votes than the winners of the past two elections, but in the end it is what it is. Tomorrow I’m going to start a new book.”

Councilman Rick Smiley was all smiles after securing his third term. He defeated challengers Darrell Hinnant and J.R. Reddick 1,585 votes to 1,406 and 108, respectively. Smiley said he thought Hinnant ran a great campaign and would have made a fine councilman. 

“It’s always nice to win. It was very close,” he said. “Darrell Hinnant ran a great campaign, he’s a great guy. He and I have talked many times while we were campaigning at various places and worked together. I congratulate him on the outstanding work that he’s done and the high tone of his campaign. I think we’ll hear from him again.”

Hinnant said similar things after the polls closed, and said he was excited to continue working for the city. 

“It’s obviously disappointing when you lose, but, you know, it was a great race, I learned a tremendous amount,” he said. “Going into it, we wanted the race to be positive, we wanted the race to be about what’s best for the citizens of Greenville and how we can keep our city moving forward and we did that in our campaign. While we didn’t get the results that we wanted, we were at least able to talk about the things that are important to keep the city moving. You win some and you lose some, but you have to come back and fight another day.”

William Litchfield defeated Tom Best 1,758 to 1,019 in the District 5 race. Litchfield said he was grateful for all the support he received.

“Thank you to the citizens of District 5 for supporting me and my vision for Greenville.,” he said. “I look forward to serving you, as your District 5 city councilman.”

Best said he was glad his campaign accomplished what it set out to do, give voters a choice. He said he appreciated the work his campaign put in. 

“I ran for an open seat to give the District 5 voters a choice,” he's said. “I’ve lived here 34 years and I knew I could make a significant contribution. The voters made their choice. I appreciate my campaign volunteers and all that they’ve done in supporting me. I wish Will Litchfield and the citizens of Greenville the very best.”

Kandie Smith had 976 votes to Micah Lockhart’s 196 votes in the District 1 race. District 2 Councilwoman Rose Glover ran unopposed. She received 1,191 votes.

The new council will take office in December.

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579 and Brian Wudkwych at bwudkwych@reflector.com and 329-9567.