ABBEVILLE — First there was a runoff. Now, there will be a recount.
According to unofficial tallies, Louise Aikens edged Bartavia Hill in a special election to fill the City Council seat vacated when Hill’s father, Gus Wilson, died earlier this year.
But the race was so close — Aikens won by a single vote — that Abbeville County’s Voter Registrations and Elections Board will have to conduct a recount before the vote is certified on Friday.
“There’s a 99.9% chance it’s not gonna change, but by law we’re gonna do a recount,” said Kim London, the county’s registration and elections director. State law mandates a recount for contests within a 1% margin.
The special election was called after Wilson, the longest-serving member in the council’s history, died in March. The election went to a runoff after Aikens, Hill, and a third candidate, Phil Rosenberg, failed to earn more than 50% of the vote May 28.
Aikens, formerly the victims’ advocate for the Abbeville Police Department, said before the election that she wanted to continue in her role as an advocate, this time for her constituents in District 1.
“It all refers back to my being an advocate — I want to be an advocate for this district, to serve the people,” Aikens said. “I didn’t only just serve my victims, but I served all of the citizens that came to me. … There were things that people were needing and (they) didn’t know how to reach out or get the information.”
Since her retirement in 2014, Aikens has been working as a substitute teacher for Abbeville County School District and a volunteer at Abbeville Area Medical Center. She is a member of the St. James AME Church and a member of the board of the United Christian Ministries of Abbeville County.
Hill, an independent case manager contracted by the state of South Carolina, said that her years spent talking about city business — policies and procedures, ordinances and resolutions — with her father on Tuesday nights after city council meetings have prepared her for the role.
Neither candidate was available for comment Tuesday night.
Of the district’s 403 registered voters, 117 cast ballots on Tuesday. Aikens received 59 votes while Hill garnered 58.