COLUMBIA — First-time candidate Ginny Chadwick, an MU graduate student, was elected to a three-year term as the First Ward representative on the Columbia City Council. She received 63.5 percent of the vote.
She edged out Tyree Byndom, Bill Easley and write-in candidate John Clark. Chadwick will replace Fred Schmidt, who did not seek re-election.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser ran unopposed for re-election, receiving 1,357 votes.
First Ward vote
- Chadwick — 525 votes
- Byndom — 166 votes
- Easley — 86 votes
- Clark — 50 votes
Chadwick stood on a chair in Trey Bistro and announced that the votes were in, and she had more than 50 percent.
The restaurant exploded with cheers, and she leaned over the table to embrace her parents.
Her supporters had gathered around the artful space, nibbling appetizers that included gluten-free options.
Chadwick said the situation felt surreal.
"I'm going to be the next First Ward City Council member," she said.
As soon as he got the chance, Schmidt handed Chadwick his parking pass and key to the city building. Schmidt said he was relieved and excited to be finished with his term.
"I've done what I can," Schmidt said. "People say you'll miss it — we'll see."
Chadwick's parents, "Doc" Morrow and J. LaRue Chadwick, drove more than two hours from their hometown of Harrisonville to support their daughter on election night.
"We're so proud of her," her mother said. "She's always been so involved in the community."
Morrow Chadwick said he was proud, too, but not surprised — after all, Ginny Chadwick was a cheerleader in high school.
Chadwick was the only candidate who raised a significant amount of money, totaling more than $5,500. Chadwick put up yard signs and went door-to-door, saying she wanted to be the voice of the First Ward.
Byndom congregated with a small group of family and friends on the balcony of The Heidelberg restaurant, greeting newcomers with a hug.
Throughout the night, he stressed that the gathering, which he titled "Just Kickin' It" on Facebook, wasn't a campaign event. Throughout the race, Byndom abstained from traditional campaigning like candidate forums and canvassing because of his Baha'i faith.
"I'm really detached from it," he said. "I learned that I'm totally content with my existence and the position that I hold in the community."
As results began to come in, Byndom called the attention of everyone present. He turned to Nikolette Bell, his girlfriend of more than a year, and began reading her a poem he wrote.
"I thought I was whole, but I was trapped in a maze," he read to her. "A hero to my people who didn't know he needed to be saved."
After finishing his poem, he dropped to one knee and pulled a ring from his pocket. Bell's face was overcome with joy.
After a few moments, she stammered, "Yes."
Clark watched the results come in from Trey Bistro. Chadwick had invited all the First Ward candidates to her watch party; Clark was the only one who took her up on the offer.
Clark filed to run as a write-in candidate just weeks before the election. He is a well-known First Ward activist and a former candidate for mayor.
Even before his write-in votes were tallied, Clark gave a nod to Chadwick.
"I'll wish her the best and do anything I can to help her be a successful First Ward representative," he said.
Easley did not answer his phone after the results were posted. He had previously said he would wait for the results from home.
Chadwick and Nauser will be sworn in during a special City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.