Councilwoman Marion Porterfield defeated Republican Richard Patierne on Tuesday, possibly on the strength of the Democratic ticket, with many voters saying they came to vote for the president and chose every other Democrat on the ballot too.
Porterfield won her first election by 8,967 votes to 5,954 votes — 60 percent to 40 percent — in unofficial results.
As a first-timer, she didn’t quite believe the numbers, although she held a commanding lead the entire night. Other Democrats congratulated her long before she was ready to admit victory.
But as her lead grew, she said in delight, “It’s looking good!”
Patierne watched in disappointment as results showed him falling behind.
“You would think that if you’re a resident of the city, you’d pay attention to what’s going on, with the closed-door meetings and the financial mess,” he said. “I was hoping we’d have a different reaction to the incumbent.”
But voters said they were energized by the presidential campaign and wanted more Democrats in office everywhere.
“I just felt it was the best party, right now,” one voter said after voting for every Democrat on his ballot, including Porterfield.
But some said Porterfield wasn’t just a Democrat — she was also the best choice.
“Marion is already serving on the council, and she has experience,” said Mary Ellen O’Brien after voting. “And she’s out in the community.”
Porterfield was appointed to the City Council seven months ago, filling the vacancy left when Council President Gary McCarthy was elected mayor.
She will have to run again next year to win a full term on the council.
But that might be a break from this year. First she campaigned to be appointed to the council. Then she had to run a primary when she was challenged by another Democrat. And then, finally, came the general election.
“There was a moment when I thought, God, this is a lot of work,” she said. “I want to thank my mother — she always encouraged me, supported me. Just to keep going, never give up, just perservere.”
During the campaign, she tried to get more residents involved in government, urging them to come to city meetings to comment on proposed policies so that they could have a voice in the process. She also urged them to contact city employees when they needed help. Her campaign literature included council meeting dates, an explanation of how the meetings worked, and ways to contact council members.
She said that will be her role on the council.
“I firmly believe when you connect with the community, the community feels more engaged. That’s what I bring to the table,” she said.
Porterfield will be paid $14,100 as a part-time councilwoman, as well as having the option to join the city health insurance plan. She would have to pay 20 percent of her insurance premium, a change from years ago when council members did not have to make any payments into the system.