By Jean Cole
A political newcomer defeated an experienced opponent in Tuesday’s runoff for the District 1 seat on the Athens City Council.
Chris Seibert defeated Danny Crawford 314 votes to 252, according to the final but unofficial tally from the municipal runoff election.
Seibert, 37, a former Air Force officer who now works for a St. Louis company that makes magnetically guided heart catheterization equipment, has never before held public office.
“I’m definite excited,” Seibert said after the results were in about 7:20 p.m. He was surrounded by Team Seibert, including his wife, Tiffany, and two sons, Brock, 8, and Ben, 5.
Seibert believes his experience in the private sector and the fact that he is new to politics probably helped him win.
“I think it helped that I am new to politics — that I have a fresh perspective,” he said.
His opponent had served on the Athens City Council and the Solid Waste Authority from 1992-2004.
Although he will not be sworn in until Nov. 5, Seibert said he is ready to “get started — to get down to business.”
He said he wants to “continue revitalizing the downtown core, continue to drive retail and overall job growth, and continue to beautify the city and build on what we have from a tourism standpoint.”
Because he works from home in Athens for the company Stereotaxis, he feels strongly about the city.
“I chose to raise my family here,” he said. “I know we (the City Council) don’t dictate to the school board, but I will help in any way I can, as I will with the hospital. Athens has the potential to be an even greater place, and I want to continue to work on it and promote it.”
He thanked all of the 566 voters who turned out in District 1 to vote. Of the 3,167 registered voters in the district, 17.8 percent turned out to vote Tuesday, which is not a bad showing for a runoff.
Seibert and Crawford were forced into a runoff Aug. 28 after neither gained the more than 50 percent margin required to win the municipal election. Although the municipal election was initially a five-man race, Seibert and Crawford received the most votes — 40 percent to 35 percent respectively.
Seibert will join on the council District 2 Councilman Harold Wales, District 3 Council President Jimmy Gill, and newly elected council members Joseph Cannon, District 4, and Wayne Harper, District 5.