Pritchard, Vogtle win re-election

Carter and Tutwiler in Oct. 5 runoff

Billy Pritchard and Jesse Vogtle were both successful in an election where they had almost exactly the same number of votes.

By Jennifer Gray and Dan Starnes

A robust election fueled by debate over development returned two incumbents who voted in favor of the Lane Parke project to the Mountain Brook City Council, besting vocal opponents of the project by fairly close margins.

Incumbent Councilman William S. “Billy” Pritchard III beat Cornelia LaRussa by 2,828 votes (52.3 percent) to 2,582 votes (47.7 percent).  Pritchard in June was among four city council members who voted to approve the plans by Evson Inc. to redevelop the Park Lane Apartments and Mountain Brook Shopping Center.  LaRussa was a founding member of the Friends of Mountain Brook Villages, an avid opposition group to the project.  Pritchard has served on the City Council for 10 years and voted in favor of the development.  He has also has served as the Council liaison to the Board of Education and also on the Community Task Force on school funding.

Incumbent Councilman Jesse Vogtle, who also voted in June to support the Evson project, defeated Rick Sprague and Mark Roberts.  Vogtle received 2,827 votes (52.2 percent) to Sprague’s 2,502 votes (46.2 percent), while Roberts collected 89 votes (1.6 percent). Sprague, an architect, also was affiliated with the Friends of Mountain Brook Villages.  He had offered design changes and other suggestions to the proposed Lane Parke development during the City Council hearings that were held on the project.  Vogtle, an attorney, was seeking a second term on the council.  During his term on the Council, Vogtle has served as President Pro Tempore, on the library committee, and the finance committee for the city.

In the race for Place 1, formerly Bob Moody’s seat, candidates Amy Carter and Temple Tutwiler moved onto an Oct. 5 runoff .  Tutwiler, President of Tutwiler Properties,  received 2,301 votes (42.5 percent). Carter, a stay-at-home mom who has worked as an attorney received 1,927 votes (35.6 percent). Frank Galloway, the City Attorney for 18 years and  recent member of the City’s board of Zoning Adjustments, received 1,190 votes (22 percent).  A candidate must obtain at least 50 percent of the votes in order to win.

While neither candidate in the runoff has served on the City Council before, Temple Tutwiler has served on several civic boards.

He said that he looks forward to the continued race and having the opportunity to serve on the Council.

Amy Carter continues to stress that she brings a new voice to the Council.

“I am excited about the runoff,” Carter said.  “I really want to serve.  I feel that I am a new voice and fresh perspective.”

Of the 14,433 registered voters in the city of Mountain Brook, 5418, or 37.5 percent, participated in the election.  Steve Boone, the city’s Finance Director said that a turnout of around 25 percent is typical for city elections where there are no state or national elections being held.

Several of the new candidates emphasized the need for change and diversity of background on the Council.  Four of the current council members are attorneys–two of which were the incumbents seeking re-election.

Galloway said he thought that the group campaigning between Tutwiler, Vogtle, and Pritchard and Carter, LaRussa, and Sprague helped those candidates.

“If someone was interested in say Jesse Vogtle, then it seems that they tended to vote for the other two candidates — Pritchard and Tutwiler — as well,” Galloway said.  “Enough did this to make a difference.  If you look at the voting totals, there is only one vote difference between what Vogtle received (2,827 votes) and the number Pritchard received (2,828 votes).”

Further examination of the election results shows a similar close relationship between the number of votes received by Cornelia LaRussa (2,582 votes) and Rick Sprague (2,502 votes).

Another interesting observation he noted was how each group of candidates seemed to represent a particular view on the Lane Parke development, whether they stated their view or not, simply by who they campaigned with and those candidates votes on the issue, or their outspoken opposition to the development.

“It seems that with most voters, they were either voting for or against development based on the candidates they supported,” Galloway said.

When asked who he would be endorsing in the runoff, he said that he endorses Amy Carter. “Amy Carter is the better qualified candidate to help lead Mountain Brook and deal with the matters with which the city will be confronted during the next several years.”

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