Preliminary results: Duman defeats Johnson for mayor

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, November 4, 2020

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Councilman Mike Duman will likely become Suffolk’s new mayor after winning in 23 of the city’s 28 precincts.

Duman, currently the Chuckatuck Borough councilman, led incumbent Mayor Linda Johnson with 41.65% of the preliminary vote totals to the incumbent mayor’s 29.28%. Brian Bass was in third with 17.07% and Vanessa Harris had 11.69%.

With 2,200 ballots mailed to city voters that had not been returned as of Nov. 1, there are still more votes to be counted until the noon, Nov. 6 cutoff. However, Duman is more than 5,000 votes ahead of Johnson, who narrowly won only two precincts, Harbour View and Burbage Grant.

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Harris also won three precincts, but Duman showed electoral strength across the city.

Duman, reached prior to the early voting totals being released, said he was cautiously optimistic about winning the race. He won or finished second in every precinct, missing out on three precincts by a combined six votes.

“I am most pleased and elated in that based on the returns that we have, I have support from one end of the city to the other,” Duman said.

Duman, who visited all 27 physical precincts on Election Day, had a gathering of supporters at the dealership that wrapped up around 10 p.m.

Johnson, the city’s first elected mayor and first female mayor, was seeking a fourth four-year term. She was first elected to City Council in 2000, representing the Sleepy Hole Borough for two terms, and became the city’s first female mayor in 2006 and the city’s first directly elected mayor in 2008. She fended off challengers in 2012 and 2016, but not this year.

Johnson is not the only longtime incumbent who didn’t fare well Tuesday.

Curtis Milteer Sr., who has been elected to 10 consecutive terms on council, is currently trailing LeOtis Williams and Mike Britt for the Whaleyville Borough seat.

Williams leads with 52.13% of the vote, with Britt edging Milteer for second with 24.02% versus the incumbent’s 23.23%. However, there were still 2,200 ballots mailed to city voters that had not been returned, and Williams’ lead is 1,561 votes, according to unofficial totals.

In the Nansemond Borough, incumbent Lue Ward leads challenger Courtney Wolfe in his bid to retain his seat on council.

Wolfe had led by 330 votes after unofficial totals from those who voted on Election Day. However, Ward received 648 more votes among those who voted early.

Roger Fawcett ran unopposed and won re-election to the Sleepy Hole Borough seat on council.

In another keenly watched race, School Board Vice Chairwoman Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck, with 58.69% of the vote, leads challenger Andy Hilton, who has 40.43%.

Hilton had led Brooks-Buck by less than 200 votes before the early voting totals were posted late Tuesday evening. Brooks-Buck, however, handily won the early voters, taking more than 66%.

Hilton, who won the Harbourview and Burbage Grant precincts among the Nov. 3 voters, had 53.25% of the vote to 45.57% for Brooks-Buck, who won in the Huntersville precinct.

In the Whaleyville Borough, while Chairwoman Phyllis Byrum had no ballot opposition, she overcame a write-in challenge from Valerie Barnes, winning with just over 88% of the vote. Write-in votes accounted for 11.94% of the vote, though it is unclear at this point how many of those went to Barnes.

In the Sleepy Hole Borough, David Mitnick ran unopposed to return to his seat.

Absentee ballots can still be accepted until noon Nov. 6 as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3, so all results are incomplete, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.