Billings triumphant in Provo mayoral race

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    By Joni Renick

    The man who has led Provo for the past four years will continue for another four.

    Residents cast their votes Tuesday and made Lewis Billings mayor once again.

    The mood at Billings” headquarters was festive.

    A band was playing with four TVs and a computer broadcasting the results.

    When the mayor entered his headquarters, the band began playing “Hail to the Chief.”

    Supporters were optimistic yet cautious throughout the evening. An hour and a half after the polls closed, only a handful of precincts had reported.

    “I”m here for the long haul,” Dave Olpin, a Billings supporter said.

    Olpin said while the numbers looked good at first, he worried about those citizens who voted for one of the other candidates in the primaries.

    He said if those people all went to Bailey”s side, it could make for a close race.

    Billings was well supported by local Republican leaders. Last week Governor Leavitt was in Provo attending both a fundraiser for Billings and a bowling match for Billings” supporters.

    Billings said he spent the day phoning citizens, sending out e-mails, going door-to-door and doing “honk and waves.”

    Billings was also cautiously optimistic throughout the night.

    “The ultimate test will be the final numbers,” he said.

    Billings said he believes the voting turnout was affected because of the off-election year.

    He said in a Presidential election year, millions and millions of dollars are spent to inform voters and in off years that doesn”t happen.

    Howard Stone, neighborhood chair for the Franklin area said he believed Dave Bailey is “out of touch” with what really is going on in the city.

    Also, some Billings supporters said Bailey was being too negative in his campaigning efforts.

    Bailey”s supporters remained optimistic throughout the night.

    Neighbors, family, friends, police officers and firefighters gathered to support the Bailey campaign.

    Many dubbed the race a “nail biter.”

    Bailey called the results “very encouraging” even as numbers slowly waned.

    “We entered the race expecting to give Mayor Billings a run for his money, and we did it,” Bailey said.

    Campaign supporter Shari Holweg said she hoped those voters who were still undecided and those who didn”t vote in the primaries would help them to come out on top.

    Mike Bledsoe, Provo Fire Battalion Chief, said during the last few days of the campaign they distributed over 6,000 fliers to garner support.

    These fliers warned of upcoming fire protection issues the fire department feels Billings isn”t addressing.

    Rick Svendsen, a neighbor of Bailey who has known him for over 20 years spoke highly of Bailey.

    “He is one of the greatest guys I”ve ever known,” Svendsen said.

    He continued, “He”ll be a wonderful mayor or if not a great guy regardless.”

    Bailey said he plans to go back to work at the fire department Thursday morning.

    In other city races, Dave Knecht beat Matthew Baker for the Citywide Council seat.

    Cindy Richards won by a landslide over Brian Smith in the Southwest council district.

    Also, Paul Warner won uncontested in the Northeast council district.

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