Lady’s First: Grayson forces run-off, Candidates vow to work hard for election

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – The field of candidates to become the next Demopolis mayor got cut to two with Mike Grayson and Cecil Williamson heading into a run-off election on Sept.14.

Williamson led the pack with 926 votes to Grayson’s 566.

Mitchell Congress, the field’s lone black candidate garnered 441 votes city wide and Ben Sherrod took 387 votes. Stephen Gutshall received 82 votes. Ed Key received 18 votes.

While the results are unofficial until the city council canvasses the election, set for 8 a.m. today in city hall, Williamson said hard work paid off and plans to continue that campaign strategy through the run off.

“I plan to work as hard as I did in the primary,” she said, “work harder.”

Being a full-time for Demopolis is the priority she plans to continue for the run-off period.

“I’m able to serve full time and the city expects the mayor to serve full time. I’m able capable and willing to do that,” she said.

Williamson, who with husband Wayne own a local fabric store, said her time was not infringed on by the business.

“The business is in my husband’s name and I assist him with it,” she said. “I don’t own multiple businesses and am not raising a small child as a sole parent.”

“My priorities are to serve the city,” she said.

Her strengths in the campaign, she said, came from her prayer life, the support of her friends and family and “the desire to serve the city.”

Grayson announced that he would seek the mayor’s post in July 2003 and was confident of his ability to garner the votes he’d need to claim the office in September.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the run off,” he said. “It feels great [to make the run off] and it’s very exciting and good to be able to make plans.”

Grayson’s campaign strategy was to run a steadily intensifying race, and said that over the next three week’s he’d try to pick up that intensity.

“One of the main concentrations will be getting out to the people more, but I’m going to take

a couple of days first to try to come up with an effective campaign strategy,” he said.

“A clear choice” is what the run off will focus on, Grayson said.

“I still maintain that this whole campaign is about leadership,” he said. “It’s about who will represent all the people – not just factions – and it’s about who can bring us all together and who can make economic development happen – working with people inside the city as well as outside. That’s the way I see it.”

Grayson still plans on emphasizing the issues such as infrastructure, education, safety and security, parts of his TIGER platform.

He called the six-way race a “positive thing” for the city and its people.

“Now they have a very clear choice in where they want to go,” he said. “It’s truly an honor to be in a run-off situation.

Stephen Gutshall, who was the only other mayoral candidate to come to city hall during the evening’s vote tallying, said he was undecided about whom he’d through his support behind.

“Let me sleep on that one,” he said.

Gutshall ran fifth in race, his first foray into politics.

“The campaign was good and I’m proud of the race we ran,” he said. “A lot of folks helped … I’m still young have plenty of time to do it again.”