Murphy, Henley Win In Close Runoff Election

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The chads have barely settled to the ground, but newly elected Payson Mayor Ken Murphy is already looking ahead to the challenges facing the town in the coming months.

Murphy, who defeated Jim White by just 24 votes in a hotly contested runoff election, said, "It's time to get to work, and we have a lot of work to do."

With all outstanding ballots now counted, Murphy received 1,556 votes to 1,532 for White. The totals represent 50.4 percent and 49.6 percent, respectively, of the votes cast.

In the runoff for the lone town council seat still up for grabs, Robert Henley came from behind to defeat Kenny Knapp by 54 votes, 1,567 to 1,513. Henley's total represents 50.9 percent of all votes cast.

Celebrating at the home of friends Tuesday evening, Henley said, "I feel very honored that the people of Payson have elected me as a councilmember. I look forward to working with all of the citizens and business owners of our community. As we face our major challenges, we'll come up with good solutions."

The voter turnout of 3,160 represented 35.1 percent of registered voters compared to 3,673 or 41.5 percent in the primary.

In the primary, Murphy lost to White by 342 votes, with Diane Sexton coming in a distant third. After promising to support White if she lost, Sexton changed her mind and urged her supporters to vote for Murphy.

The official election canvas will take place Tuesday, but Sam Streichman, town attorney, was uncertain about the possibility of a recount.

"We'll take a look at (a recount) at the canvas," Streichman said. "The canvas triggers it, and it can't happen before the canvas."

White said Tuesday evening that he would probably not ask for a recount unless the 12 uncounted ballots made the results close enough to trigger one. Two of those ballots were disqualified, and the mayoral candidates split the remaining 10.

Outgoing Mayor Ray Schum, in attendance at town hall where the ballots were tallied and the results announced, said, "(The winner) appears to be Mr. Murphy at this time, and I will congratulate him most sincerely if he turns out to be the victor. The citizens have spoken and that's the way the democratic process is."

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