ALBANY -- Election statistics from Tuesday show that Albany City Commissioner-elect Christopher Pike's overwhelming support in two majority white precincts in Ward 3 turned a close race into a landslide victory.
Overall, Pike carried 69 percent of the vote Tuesday to defeat former Albany Commissioner Arthur Williams for the Ward 3 seat by a count of 476-214. The ward, which has a 71.37 percent majority of African-American voters, had 5,662 eligible to cast ballots, the latest numbers from the Dougherty elections Office shows. Only 12.3 percent turned out Tuesday for Albany's only contest.
A closer look at the precinct results reveals that voters in two predominantly white precincts turned what would have otherwise been a tight race into a runaway win for Pike.
The to the election was the Covenant Church precinct, where 65.5 percent of the total 1,404 registered voters are white. Pike received 219 of that precinct's votes 219 to Williams' five, elections office numbers show. Convenant also had the largest turnout of any of the six precincts, with 224 voters, edging Carver Community Center precinct by seven votes.
At Merry Acres, where 64.5 percent of registered voters are white, Pike received 46 votes to Williams' single ballot. That precinct had the second-lowest number of voters -- 47 -- and turnout percentage -- 8.7 percent.
In those two precincts, Pike commanded a staggering 97.8 percent of the vote.
In the four other precincts, which combined are 92.3 percent black, Pike still edged out Williams by three votes, 211-208. Williams carried only two precincts -- Saints in Christ, which he won 33-29, and Carver Gym, where he was on top 61-57. The two precincts Williams won had a combined turnout of 9.25 percent.
Pike's edge in the majority black precincts is mostly attributable to the one with the smallest number of registered voters and the smallest turnout percentage -- Phoebe Education Center. Only 22 voters in that 80 percent black majority precinct went to the polls -- 5.42 percent -- but Pike had an eight-vote margin, 15-7.
Williams amassed his biggest number of votes at Carver Community Center, which Pike still won by three, 110-107. Carver Community and Convenant Church were the only two precincts to generate a turnout in the double digits, accounting for 63.9 percent of all votes tallied in the ward.
It's difficult to gauge whether either candidate had any advantage with women voters. Female voters outnumber male voters in all the precincts except Phoebe.
Calls seeking comment from Pike weren't immediately returned Thursday.
The voter turnout Tuesday was significantly lower than the turnout generated in the ward's six-man race four years ago.
In that contest, Gurr, Pike and three others challenged Williams, who had been on the City Commission 22 years. Gurr and Williams were the top finishers in the general election, qualifying for a runoff that Gurr won.
In that general election, 23 percent of registered voters in Ward 3 cast ballots in the general election.
Pike, who picked up Gurr's endorsement, will take office in January, but made an appearance at Wednesday's commission meeting where he introduced himself to city staff and other commissioners.
He inadvertently found himself at the center of an effort to alter the city's charter in regard to who will become mayor pro-tem next year. While that position has, at times, been both an appointed position selected by the board and later the mayor, it now rotates yearly from district to district in sequence. Ward 3 was scheduled to received the appointment in January, but with Pike's lack of political experience, some at the table say it needs to jump to Ward 4's Roger Marietta.
The issue came to a vote Wednesday, where it failed in a 3-3 tie. Commissioners Tommie Postell, Jon Howard and current Mayor Pro Tem Dorothy Hubbard voted for a change, while commissioners Gurr, Marietta and Bob Langstaff -- voted against it. Mayor Willie Adams was out of town and did not attend the meeting.
Postell says he will reintroduce the motion at a later meeting.