GOOSE CREEK - The City of Goose Creek saw its biggest turnout ever for a municipal election on Tuesday and in the end, returned longtime Mayor Michael Heitzler to office for four more years.
More than 10 percent of the city's 21,000 voters cast ballots in the election, which saw Heitzler, 68, challenged for the first time in 16 years.
In unofficial results, Heitzler took 1,759 of the 2,689 votes cast for mayor and City Councilman Jerry Tekac received 930 votes.
After hearing the results, Heitzler said he will shake Tekac's hand and continue to work with him on the council. Tekac's council term expires in 2016.
"There are no individual players on this council," said Heitzler, who has been mayor for 36 years. "We take the team approach and we will continue to take the team approach."
Tekac, 48, said he was pleased with voter turnout.
"It was a great race," he said. "I was just glad to see so many people come out to vote."
Berkeley County Election Commission Adam Hammons said it was the best turnout the city has ever had for a municipal election. The city canceled elections in 2006 and 2010 because candidates ran without opposition.
"I think having some competition for the mayor has brought some people out," Hammons said. "It's been a good thing to get some people out there and get them excited about voting."
In another event that was hailed as a first, the two candidates participated in a forum sponsored by Goose Creek 9-12 last week. During that forum, the main topic was economic development in the city. Tekac, a banker, believes the city needs more businesses and industry; Heitzler, a retired principal, wants more parks and open spaces.
Also up for election Tuesday were three at-large council seats. In those races, unofficial tallies were: incumbent Mark Phillips, 1,731; Mayor Pro-tem Kimo Esarey, 1,712; and newcomer Debra Green-Fletcher, 1,589. Incumbent Marguerite Brown did not seek re-election.
Other candidates were Victoria Morrell, 1,071, and Gerald Stinson, 1,029.
Voters also went to the polls Tuesday for a special election in District 9 of the Berkeley County School Board, to fill a seat vacated by Scott Marino when he moved out of state at the end of 2013.
Turnout there was light, Hammons said. Special elections typically draw smaller numbers, and rainy weather early in the day probably also kept some people at home, he said.
In that race, unofficial results had Jim Hayes defeating Kevin Condon.