Two years after coming up short in the race for East Ridge's City Council and being passed over for a council appointment, businessman Marc Gravitt nabbed one of the city's two available council seats after a nail-biter finish against the widow of a longtime East Ridge mayor.
"I feel like it's a vindication," Gravitt, 45, said while celebrating in the East Ridge Best Western with supporters. "I breathed a big sigh of relief when I saw that final number."
Eight-year incumbent Denny Manning took the lead in the council race, gaining 26 percent of the vote. Gravitt followed with 24.8 percent, and Ann Pruett finished with about 23 percent. The rest of the East Ridge votes were split among Mimi Lowrey, Patricia Cassidy, Scooter King and John Clemmer.
Manning, who has aligned himself with Gravitt in his campaign, said the race was especially hard because it was so crowded.
"This was about four times harder than any other I've been in," the 67-year-old Manning said. "I appreciate the people having faith in me again. ... I'm not just thankful with my head, but with my heart."
Pruett, the 75-year-old widow of former Mayor Fred Pruett, had led the race in campaign fundraising by a large margin and was supported by former East Ridge Mayor Mike Steele.
Attempts to reach Pruett and her campaign manager Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
Gravitt said he wants to start to "clean up" the city and council dealings after taking office.
"You can only eat a cow in small bites," Gravitt said. "It will take us a while to clean things up around here, but we'll get it done."
East Ridge council members make a salary of $7,200 a year. Each elected candidate will take office on Dec. 10.
All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by the Tennessee Division of Elections.
Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6673.