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East Spencer voters back two incumbents, one challenger

EAST SPENCER — Despite turmoil in the town’s police department and debate over whether to sell the town’s water and sewer system, East Spencer voters like what they have in the current board.
Challenger Otis Gibson was the top vote getter with 135, filling a vacated seat previously held by Rosa Burris, but Tammy Corpening and Phronice Johnson were re-elected with 113 and 111 votes, according to Tuesday’s unofficial results.
Challengers Titus King, Sr. came in fourth with 71 votes and Robert Smith had 68. King also lost an election for alderman in 2011. Smith, too, lost in a race against Mayor Barbara Mallett in 2011.
Mallett ran unopposed and won with 151 votes.
In East Spencer, 181 ballots were cast. The voter turnout was just shy of 16 percent.
King and Smith leaned on public criticism over the hiring and firing of former police chief Darren Westmoreland during the later stages of the East Spencer alderman race.
Still, voters elected to go with Johnson and Corpening, two board veterans, and added Gibson, a longtime retired educator, who pitched a history of public programs and education experience.
Johnson and Corpening both said they would like to see town projects, like the recreation park, redeveloped.
When reached by phone Tuesday night, Corpening said, “I continue to have East Spencer’s back and I look forward to business as usual.”
Finding a new police chief, Corpening said, is her top priority after the election.
She said she also hopes to increase efforts to develop business along Interstate 85 at East Spencer.
“My campaign was focused on us and I continue to be focused on us,” she said. “That’s a good thing that the citizens are pleased with what I’m doing.”
Gibson, Johnson, King and Smith did not respond to a phone call seeking comment Tuesday night.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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