Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Southport mayor fails to gain reelection after requested recount

Rich Alt will take over the Southport mayoral seat in 2024 from Joe Pat Hatem after the incumbent’s requested recount took confirmed Alt’s win on Tuesday. (Port City Daily/file photo)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — It’s official. Rich Alt will take over the Southport mayoral seat in 2024 from Joe Pat Hatem after the incumbent’s requested recount confirmed Alt’s win on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Southport mayor seat flips after election canvass, two ties in other municipalities

The machine recount conducted by the Brunswick County Board of Elections showed the tallied votes were consistent with totals from the Nov. 17 election canvass, which had Alt winning by one vote.

However, a previously disqualified provisional ballot was added to the tally on Tuesday, increasing Alt’s lead to two votes. Brunswick County Director of Elections Sara LaVere said that the board made an error in registering one Southport voter.

The candidates can still request a recount by hand. Hatem did not respond to a request for comment by press.

The board also determined the result of two tied races in Bald Head Island and Ocean Isle Beach.

After pulling a name from a hat, Virginia “Ginnie” White will take the seat over incumbent Jerry Maggio on the Bald Head Island Village Council. David Greene won the Ocean Isle Beach commissioner contest after tying with Stephen S. Turner.

Regarding the Southport contest, Hatem, mayor since 2019, attributed the close race to an influx of newcomers in Southport and also the unprecedented competition between a sitting mayor and an alderman. After the Nov. 17 canvass meeting, he told Port City Daily he and Alt could not be more different, demonstrating a divide in the town.

“We ran a very positive campaign,” Hatem said. “That’s what people don’t want anymore. I did not mention any opponents in any of my ads or on Facebook, yet every week, I was in some way attacked negatively and it may have been a cumulative effect in this case.”

Alt agreed with the mayor’s perspective on the Southport community.

“Whoever comes out at the end is going to have to try to make amends with the other half of the city because we can’t have a divided city like that,” Alt said after the canvass.

Hatem will serve as mayor of Southport until Dec. 14.


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