St. Stephen — The results of the Town Council election Tuesday ended in a statistical dead heat between incumbent Robbie Ballentine Jr. and former council member Roderick Sumpter.
The two were separated by one vote. Ballentine took 93 votes and Sumpter took 94 in unofficial returns. Both walked away with 13 percent of 697 total votes cast.
A runoff election is set for May 20.
Almost all of the candidates said the town needs to do something about its appearance, bring in new industry and crack down on crime.
This year, seven vied for three open seats on council. Incumbents Louis Brown and John Rivers will return to council. Brown took 19 percent of votes; Rivers took 24 percent.
The other candidates were Shellie Johnson, who received 12 percent of votes; Bettye Shealy, 12 percent; and Randy Knight, 7 percent.
Sumpter, pastor of White Chapel Holiness Church, campaigned on beautifying the small town. He looks forward to the runoff and is confident that he is the man for the job.
"I hope that the people would come back out and vote. I plan to continue to campaign and give (residents) a mind to still come back out and vote," Sumpter said.
Ballentine, owner of Ballen- tine Builders, campaigned on attracting more industry to St. Stephen. Getting re-elected outright was difficult because of the number of candidates running, he said.
"I have to do some bush-beating, but I'm confident and excited about the runoff," Ballentine said.
Both Brown and Rivers look forward to continuing the work they have started to improve recreation and increase growth in this small town at the outer reaches of Berkeley County.
"When you got a lot of good folks around you, it makes your job a whole lot easier," Brown said.
"I'm very proud to say that I am a part of St. Stephen Town Council."
Rivers echoed Brown's sentiments as he looks forward to another four years as council member.
"Thank you to the citizens for another vote of confidence," he said. "I'll do my best to serve them to the best of my ability."
Reach Jasiri Whipper at 745-5863 or email@example.com.