MOUNT PLEASANT — For weeks, many here predicted Town Councilwoman Linda Page would romp to a win as this town’s new mayor. On Tuesday, the voters proved them right.
Page, a one-term council member who has runs a family antique store for years, took 57 percent and finished first in every precinct in the five-way race to replace outgoing Mayor Billy Swails, according to unofficial results.
“I think they shared the vision of the community I have,” Page said at her victory party. “We are one awesome community.”
Page was viewed as a favorite because she received the most votes of any town council candidate four years ago and had the backing of Swails, most of her council colleagues, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and this newspaper’s editorial board.
Even one of her four opponents predicted she was “going to walk over everybody.”
This fall’s mayoral race was relatively low key, despite having no incumbent. A survey of town voters today showed many are pleased with the quality of life here, and one of the town’s biggest headaches — traffic congestion — eased recently as U.S. highway 17 was widened to six lanes.
Tuesday’s vote seemed to support the status quo: Less than 20 percent of the town’s 55,500 registered voters turned out — down from the 2009 turnout of 27 percent.
“We are already awesome,” Page said. “I just hope to take away any obstacle that businesses or average citizens face with our government.”
In other Lowcountry races, Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin was re-elected over challenger Ryan Buckhannon, and Awendaw voters chose Miriam C. Green over Joe Bowers. In Lincolnville, Mayor Tyrone E. Aiken narrowly lost to challenger Charles Duberry, while Terry Ahearn won the Seabrook Island mayor’s race over John DuBois.
Joe Bustos, a former Mount Pleasant Town Councilman, finished second but received only about half as many votes as he did in his 2009 mayoral bid. He campaigned on a pledge to do less business behind closed doors —and not to support a $22 million plan to build a new town hall.
Councilman Ken Glasson highlighted his conservative voting record and experience, including both his years on town council and in the military. He finished third with about 19 percent. George Freeman, a real estate agent, and C. Carl Carroll Jr., who owns a taxi service, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mount Pleasant voters also chose familiar faces for four Town Council seats, including incumbent Elton Carrier, former Councilmen Paul Gawrych and Gary Santos and funeral home operator Mark Smith.
Unlike the mayoral posts in Charleston and North Charleston, Mount Pleasant’s mayor is a part-time position while the town administrator runs things day to day. The post pays $24,000 a year.
Page’s victory put an exclamation point on a bittersweet few months for her. In late September, her son Andy Parker suffered several spinal trauma while trying to cut down a tree, and he has remained in an Atlanta treatment center coping with pain and partial paralysis in his legs.
“Andy is making progress every day,” Page said. “Obviously, it has affected my race. As a mother, my children will always come first.”
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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