By Joel Hall
In Tuesday's election, new Forest Park council member Linda Lord believes she was "vindicated" by voters in Ward 5.
Donald Judson won his third term as councilman of Ward 4. Ward 3 results produced a runoff between incumbent, David Halcome, and challenger, Maudie McCord.
Lord, who won in an Oct. 16 special election against challenger Avery Wilson, won again Tuesday. This time, however, she earned a full, four-year term as council woman for Ward 5. She replaced her husband, Wes, who died in June before he was able to finish his term.
Lord received 168 votes to 117 for Wilson, according to Forest Park election superintendent, Sandra Norwood.
"I feel vindicated, relieved, happy, excited, and enthusiastic, too," said Lord. "This is the third election we've had. It's good to get it over with. I feel very fortunate that the voters elected me."
Judson was returned to his Ward 4 council post by beating challenger, Christine Ellington, by 21 votes. The election secures his place as the longest-serving member of the city council. "I appreciate the people putting me back in office," said Judson. "I will do the same job I have always been doing, looking after the people of Ward 4."
Ward 3 challenger, La Wanda Folami, was knocked out of the race, polling only 26 votes. A runoff is necessary between challenger, McCord, with 55 votes, and incumbent Halcome, with 50 votes.
"I expect to speak up for our residents and try to make our community safer for our children and our seniors, and focus on the Fort Gillem project," said McCord.
Forest Park City Manager John Parker said Halcome was out of town during the election and most likely did not know the results. He said the city would inform him of the runoff "as soon as possible."
Many Forest Park voters came to the polls believing change in the council was necessary, while others were satisfied with the work that certain councilmen were doing in their particular wards. Concerns of voters centered on addressing crime, city maintenance, and the redevelopment of Fort Gillem.
"The councilman that I am going to be voting for, he's been doing a great job, so I am going to vote for him again," said resident Larry Kohn, in reference to Donald Judson of Ward 4, before the final results were in.
Gwen Ellison, a Ward 2 voter, and director of a funeral home in Lake City, said this election was particularly interesting, because "the incumbents usually don't get a lot of competition."
Lord said that upon entering office, "I will learn all I can about the city council workings and the city of Forest Park," as well as work toward changing the perception of crime in the city. "Forest Park's crime is down, and lower than any other city in the county," but "perception is everything," she said.