Rome City Commissioner Sundai Stevenson was the only sitting commissioner in Ward 1 to keep her seat in Tuesday’s election as challengers Mark Cochran and Jim Bojo beat out incumbents Bill Irmscher and Milton Slack III in unofficial results.
Stevenson, a former social worker who now works in affordable housing, also was the biggest vote-getter with 1,586 — or 22.86% — followed by architect Mark Cochran with 1,512 and retired radio broadcaster Jim Bojo with 1,494.
“I just thank the citizens of Rome for seeing enough in me to go out and vote for me,” Stevenson said as family and friends gathered with her at Jazzy Hot Wings in West Rome. “I care so much for Rome and I’m so glad I can be a part of the progression toward the future. I will do my best over the next four years for the citizens that I love so much.”
A few miles away at Moe’s Original BBQ, Bojo wiped his eyes as he held his sister Joan Hufstetler tightly upon hearing that his dream of becoming a city commissioner finally came true.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” sighed Bojo, who has attended every commission caucus and meeting for the past few months. “I’m just ecstatic. We all worked so hard and I couldn’t be happier.”
Bojo and Cochran had a joint watch party, which included chicken wings, pork rinds and a large projection of a running precinct tally on the wall in the back room.
Cochran grabbed his wife, Michelle, and hoisted his 7-year-old son Cooper on his hip as friends gave him hugs and high fives.
“I’m jubilant,” said Cochran, who pointed out earlier that his video explaining the Rome ward system got 5,300 views. “It’s a good day for Rome. We’re at a tipping point and this shows that instead of moving back toward the past, we’re moving forward toward the future.”
Incumbent commissioners Bill Irmscher and Milton Slack were the runners up this year, with 1,173 votes and 1,148 votes respectively.
Winners of Tuesday’s race will start four-year terms in January.