ALTON — Mayor Tom Hoechst appears to have been defeated in his re-election bid by a write-in campaign, though he has not conceded and the other side has not claimed victory.
In final but unofficial tallies, challenger Brant Walker received 1,853 write-in votes, upsetting Hoechst's 1,779. Another write-in candidate, Jackie Morris, received 13 votes.
Hoechst served one term as mayor of Alton after serving six years on the Madison County Board. He said since the gap is only 74 votes or 0.2 percent, so he will wait until all ballots are counted and certified.
"It is not my intention to drag this process out; however, given how close the margin is, I have no choice but to wait until (April 23) to ensure all ballots have been accurately counted," Hoechst said. "I ask the voters' patience as the official ballot-counting process proceeds over the coming days."
Likewise, Walker's Facebook page states he is not declaring victory until the final results are certified. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
Walker had lost the mayoral race to Hoechst in 2009. He had filed to run on this year's ballot, but was removed by the Alton Electoral Board because he owed the city money for a delinquent trash and sewer bill. Walker appealed to the courts and lost, so he launched a write-in campaign.
The totals are not yet official until the canvasses are done and the paperwork is filed, according to Madison County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza.
Walker, 50, is a graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and owner of Strategic Search Services, an employment agency in Alton.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2507.