The votes are in and the citizens have spoken and elected Bruce Fraley Mayor of Berea, defeating incumbent Steve Connelly who held the seat for 16 years and local businessman Charles Arnold.
In the end, Fraley garnered approximately 44 percent of the vote for 2,420 votes to Connelly's 1,553 and Arnold's 1,472.
After retiring from the Social Security Administration, Fraley, a Berea native said he didn't retire to quit, instead feeling called to run for mayor.
Fraley worked for the SSA for 34 years, the last 27 as a district manager. He also served two terms as president of the Atlanta Region Social Security Management Association, and is now on the Berea Faith Community Outreach board of directors and a member of the Berea Rotary.
In 2016 he was elected to the Berea City Council, and sits on the economic development committee, audit and finance committee, industrial development committee and personnel committee. He also manages his family's farm and several commercial and residential rental properties.
"First I would want to thank the voters who put their trust in me," he said of Tuesday's win. "And I pledge to serve to them to the best of my ability, and am committed to continue improving our city... I compliment Mayor Connelly and Mr. Arnold for running a positive campaign. I am pleased to see high voter turnout and a high degree of citizen engagement in the mayor and city council races."
Connelly said the voters have spoken and he congratulated Fraley on his win, complimenting both opponents for running on issues and attending forums.
"Even though Berea will confront big issues during the next four years, I am confident that, with our talented staff, well-trained and equipped work force, newly-elected council, and citizens who will support and guide them, Berea will rise to the challenge. Thank you for allowing me to serve as Berea’s fourth mayor for the last sixteen years," he said.
Additionally, Arnold congratulated Fraley.
"I know under your watch that Berea will move forward with the spirit of cooperation, integrity and common sense leadership," he said. "I want to thank (both of my opponents) for running good positive campaigns...I will assist and serve your administration in any way that I can. I ask that anyone that supported me now support Mayor-elect Bruce Fraley."
Berea City Council
All six city council members seeking election were met with success in Tuesday's general election, including Steve Caudill, Cora Jane Wilson, Jim Davis, Ronnie Terrill, Jerry Little and David Rowlette. They will be joined on the council by newcomers John Payne and Emily LaDouceur.
Tallies of votes are provided at the County Clerk's office Tuesday are as follows:
•Steve Caudill, 3,312.
•Cora Jane Wilson, 2,988.
•Jim Davis, 2,889.
•Ronnie Terrill, 2,806.
•Jerry Little, 2,697.
•John Payne, 2,661.
•Emily LaDouceur, 2,522.
•David Rowlette, 2,438.
Candidates not joining the council and their votes stood at:
Darnell Martin, 2,342.
Sune Frederiksen, 2,259.
Virginia Bland, 2,245.
Ed LaFontaine, 1,860.
Vincent Owen Gwen, 1,058.
Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.