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Results: Linda Johnson re-elected Suffolk mayor
[November 07, 2012]

Results: Linda Johnson re-elected Suffolk mayor

SUFFOLK, Nov 07, 2012 (The Virginian-Pilot - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- UPDATE: The voter registrar's office began counting absentee ballots this morning. The registrar said it may take up to eight hours to tabulate about 5,700 ballots received citywide.

Electoral Board Chairman Kenneth Carpenter said the tally could affect the outcome of the mayor's race and a close vote for a council seat in the Nansemond Borough.

Mayor Linda Johnson finished the night about 1,000 votes ahead of challenger Leroy Bennett. In Nansemond, challenger Lue Ward led incumbent Councilman Robert Barclay by 27 votes. There were 778 absentee ballots in that race.

---- Linda Johnson defeated challengers Leroy Bennett and Arthur Bredemeyer to win a second elected term as Suffolk's mayor, according to unofficial voting results late Tuesday.

Johnson edged Bennett by a little more than 1,000 votes. But with some 5,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted, she declined to declare victory.

A 60-year-old real estate agent, Johnson ran a "stay the course" campaign, touting the city's financial health and business growth under her watch.

"I think the city has moved in a really good direction, and I'd just like to see the progress continue," she said.

As a member of the City Council, she was appointed mayor in 2006 and two years later became the city's first popularly elected mayor.

Johnson out-raised and outspent both of her opponents by a wide margin, collecting more than $61,000 as of the latest reporting period. Builders, developers and real estate interests were among her biggest donors. Bennett raised about $27,000, and Bredemeyer collected less than $10,000.

Bennett, 71, a four-term council member, was drawn out of his borough last year in redistricting. In his run for mayor, he criticized what he described as a "lack of openness" in City Hall during Johnson's term.

He vowed to be an "open communicator" and work for "a more open government." Bredemeyer, 54, a lawyer and first-time candidate, criticized Johnson for having a "too cozy" relationship with the city manager and staff and for restricting "access to information" on city dealings. He suggested that, if elected, he would replace the city manager.

Bredemeyer also challenged the city's new mandatory recycling program and $17.50-per-month trash collection fee, which he described as a regressive tax that hurts the elderly and poor.

Jeff Sheler, 757-222-5563, ___ (c)2012 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) Visit The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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