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When Marc Grant went to sleep Tuesday night, he had a sizable lead in the Ward 1 race for Hilton Head Town Council.
But he wasn't ready to celebrate his first political victory.
His lead shrank a bit overnight -- he had 52 percent when he turned in and 51 percent when he awoke, after all precincts had reported -- but the outcome was still the same. He had unseated Bill Ferguson, the council's longest-serving member.
"I went to bed at probably 11:30, and I had 500 and some votes, but it was not a sure thing yet," Grant said Wednesday. "I got up in the morning and checked the newspaper, and I (was ahead) but I hadn't won. Finding out I'd won -- that was a pretty great feeling."
Ferguson finished with 34 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the S.C. Election Commission, and challenger Charles Houston was third, with 15 percent in the nonpartisan election.
Ferguson was the only black councilman; Grant, 41, also is black.
The former teacher and administrator runs the family business, Grant's Mini Market. Throughout his campaign, he argued that Ferguson had become detached from his constituents, a mistake he vowed not to make.
"I want to hold regular meetings to talk to the people of this community about what I'm willing to do for them and what they think we should be doing," Grant said. "My whole goal is to build coalitions within this community and with the mayor and the other members of Town
Council. Hopefully, together, we can get some things done on this island."
Grant cited economic growth, job creation and providing water and sewer services for all islanders as priorities during his four-year term.
CLOSE RACE IN WARD 6
The race for the Ward 6 seat was much closer. John McCann is expected to win his first bid for public office, after defeating former mayoral candidate Jim Collett Jr. by 46 votes. Election officials, however, had not yet counted provisional ballots Wednesday that were cast in the race.
McCann received 50.63 percent of the vote, a large enough share to avoid a mandatory recount, said Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections. Collett won 49.02 percent, and write-ins received 0.35 percent.
State law requires a recount if the margin of victory is 1 percent or less.
Marshall said he didn't know how many provisional ballots were cast in Ward 6.
Collett said the closeness of the race made Tuesday night's results even harder to swallow.
"You always think if you had made some more phone calls or put up a few more signs that the result would have been different, but that's just the way it goes," Collett said. "John has been campaigning for 14 months, and it seemed to really pay off for him. I'm just glad I didn't lose by 10 votes or something."
McCann said talking with scores of voters since announcing his candidacy in October 2011 made the difference.
"We had never done this before, and we didn't have name recognition or anything like that ... but we developed a strategy, met over 400 voters, and it seemed to work," McCann said. "Winning is a good feeling to start with. Now, I'm just anxious to get to work."