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Alderman elevated to mayor’s post

Ward Four Alderman Bob Massengill said he ran as “a candidatefor all the people,” and now he wants to serve as a mayor for allthe people.

“I really want to serve all the people,” Massengill said Tuesdaynight following his victory in a three-man special contest for thecity’s highest elected office.

According to complete but unofficial totals, Massengill captured1,352 votes to 777 votes for former Ward Four Alderman John Robertsand 81 votes for political newcomer Sam D. Dodds. With the nearly2-1 margin of victory, the 64-year-old Massengill won the mayor’sseat outright and a runoff will not be needed.

During a victory party at The Inez, Massengill expressedappreciation to all who helped him in the campaign. He said he hadmany people to thank.

“It was a team effort,” Massengill said.

Massengill is expected to be sworn in some time before the nextcity board meeting on June 1. He will fill the unexpired term ofMayor Bill Godbold, who resigned April 1, through June 2005.

Tuesday’s winner said it was too soon to comment on his plansfor next year’s regular city election. He indicated he wanted toconcentrate on the months ahead.

“I’m thrilled, and I’m excited,” Massengill said. “I’m going totry to do my very best to be a mayor for all the people. I want tobe available to the people and listen and to work with the boardand the department heads to make Brookhaven the city it can andshould be.”

An avid baseball fan, Massengill batted five for six among thecity’s voting places.

Massengill scored his biggest individual victory in his andRoberts’ home ward, where Massengill got 545 votes to 192 forRoberts and six for Dodds. Roberts’ lone victory was in Ward One,where he garnered 123 votes to 92 votes for Massengill and 12 votesfor Dodds.

In a prepared statement, Roberts expressed his gratitude tothose who worked during his campaign and on election day.

“Their friendship and support are more important to me thanwinning an election,” Roberts said.

Roberts also expressed a need for community unity.

“It is important for everyone in our community to pull togetherand support our new mayor in building Brookhaven into the communityit is capable of being: a community that offers opportunities forall people,” Roberts said. “I love Brookhaven and pray for a brightfuture.”

Massengill’s victory was welcome news for county resident GloriaGrinstead, who had his campaign sign in the yard at her home onHeuck’s Retreat Road.

“My campaign wasn’t in vain,” Grinstead said as she celebratedwith a dance in the government complex lobby following anunofficial announcement of Massengill’s victory.

Even though she could not vote in the election, Grinstead saidshe supported Massengill because he was the most qualified, honestand fair.

“And most of all, because he’s a Christian,” Grinstead said.”And when you’re a Christian, you’re going to do the rightthing.”

Just over 28 percent of the city’s 7,829 registered voters castballots in yesterday’s election. Vote-counting was not finisheduntil around 9:30 p.m., due in large part to heavy activity in WardFour.

“Ward Four had a good turnout. It was right at 50 percent,” saidBrookhaven Election Commission Chairwoman Bonita Bullock.

In Ward Four, 743 of its 1,573 registered voters participated.Bullock said Wards Five and Six also had a good turnout, but shesaid rainy weather could have kept voter participation downoverall.

“We could have had a better turnout,” Bullock said.

Massengill’s victory sets up the need for a special election inWard Four to fill his unexpired term as alderman. Bullock said thespecial election must be between 30-45 days after the aldermanvacancy is declared, which is expected to be at the first meetingin June.

In addition to Tuesday’s election, the Ward Four contest will bethe city’s third special election this year. In February, Mrs.Jerry L. Wilson was elected Ward Three alderwoman during a specialelection after her husband became Lincoln County supervisor.