Orange run-off promises new face
By Dave Rogers
For The Record
Orange City Council is headed for a June 17 run-off and some new representation after one of two incumbent councilors running in Saturday’s election, former mayor Essie Bellfield, wound up third in her bid for re-election in single-member District 3.
Business owners Terrie Salter and Michael Smith both topped the 84-year-old Bellfield, who made history in 1997 when she became the first – and still only – female and African-American mayor in Orange history.
Before and since, Bellfield served four terms on city council.
Salter and Smith both say this is their first run for office.
In the other race on Saturday’s ballot, incumbent Larry Spears, Jr., easily triumphed in his three-way race for the Place 6 at-large council seat, winning 71 percent of the vote.
Salter, 46, earned 44 percent of the vote (204 of 464 votes cast), Smith, 42, earned 29 percent and Bellfield 27 percent in the District 3 race.
According to the Orange charter, if one candidate fails to capture a majority (50 percent plus one) of the vote, a run-off must be held between the top two vote-getters.
Smith made it into the run-off with just eight more votes (134-126) than Bellfield.
“I encouraged her to get involved in community activities,” Bellfield said of Salter. “I try to get everybody involved.
“I’m going to miss being a council person, but I had to be here twice a month [for meetings]. Can you imagine I don’t have to be anywhere and I can just go on a cruise?”
Salter, a native of Orange, is a registered nurse. She also is a landlord, she said; for the past seven years, she has owned New Start Properties.
“The race still goes on,” Salter said. “It’s not over yet.
“You have to work hard. If it’s something you feel strongly about, you have to work hard. Orange is important to me. I want it to grow. We have work to do, but I am willing to get it done.”
Smith was manager of Sholars Pharmacy and is operations manager for CVS Pharmacy on 16th Street. He and his wife Anna own a couple of small businesses, including Water Tree Orange.
He’s no stranger to city hall, already a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“A lot of people said it would be a surprise, but I’m not surprised,” Smith said about his finish Saturday. “I figured it would be close enough for us to have a run-off.
“I had a lot of good support. I feel with the announcement of a run-off, I have even more support. I’m looking forward to campaigning again.”
The city had already scheduled a special election for June 16 to fill the District 2 seat vacated in April by the move of former council member Wayne Guidry to a job in central Texas.
Brad Childs, owner of Childs Building Supplies/Ace Hardware, was the first to file for the District 2 seat.
Bellfield actually collected more election-day votes than her two opponents, but those 39 votes (of 110 cast by District 3 voters on Saturday) could not overcome the fact that she won just 24 percent (87 of 354) of the early voting totals.
Salter collected 166 of the 354 early votes (47 percent) and Smith garnered 101 early votes (29 percent).
Spears won 68 percent (572 of 837) of the early votes cast for the at-large Place 6 seat and 79 percent (237 of 301) of Saturday’s votes.