Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

TOP STORY >>Hillman defeats Harmon in runoff

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

City Clerk Virginia Hillman bested interim and former Mayor Bill Harmon by just 10 votes in a five-way contest July 10, but she widened the gap Tuesday by 1,285 votes to become Sherwood’s new mayor.

Unofficially, with ballots from all 10 precincts in, Hillman, 43, collected 2,646 votes, or 64.4 percent. Harmon, 80, garnered 1,461 votes, or 35.6 percent. More than 4,100 residents voted in the runoff election, nearly 300 more than who voted in the July 10 five-candidate election.

Hillman will serve out the remaining 41 months of Mayor Dan Stedman’s term, who resigned in April after four months on the job, citing health issues.

“We are just ecstatic,” Hillman said. “We felt good all day. We just felt like we were going to win.”

Hillman will be sworn in at 11 a.m. today in the council chambers at city hall. District Judge Butch Hale will give Hillman the oath of office.

She has several issues to deal with—whether the city should proceed with efforts to purchase North Hills Country Club, efforts to get relief for Sherwood residents from high North Little Rock electric rates, road repair and traffic congestion. “But not tonight,” Hillman said after the results were in. “We are just enjoying the victory. There’s plenty of time after tonight to tackle those issues.”

Hillman must also recommend a replacement to fill her position as city clerk. The council will have to approve that appointment.

Harmon did not return phone calls Tuesday night.

Hillman has worked for the city of Sherwood for 21 years, and was first appointed to city clerk/treasurer in 2001, when Bobbie Chapman retired. Hillman was then elected to that position in 2002 and won re-election in 2006.

Harmon served 10 years as a city alderman, then 14 years as mayor, opting to retire rather than run again in 2006. He was appointed interim mayor after Stedman resigned.

Hillman bested Harmon by 10 votes in the July 10 election, but neither was able to get 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

In that election, Hillman collected 1,252 votes, followed by Harmon with 1,242 votes.