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Tamara Green Garris is looking forward to serving another four years as the District 4 representative on Lancaster City Council.
Garris defeated challenger Jean Cureton in Tuesday’s election, garnering 70 percent of the 395 votes cast.
In the Lancaster East precinct, Garris collected 108 votes compared to 27 for Cureton. In Lancaster West, Garris had 66 votes and Cureton had 34.
Among the absentee votes, Garris had 104 and Cureton had 56.
Late Tuesday night, only votes at the precincts had been tallied as election officials had just begun to process paper absentee ballots.
At that point, Garris had a lead by more than 100 votes. However, she remained cautiously optimistic because she's seen absentee votes turn an election in the past. The absentee paper ballots were counted by about 3 a.m. Wednesday, said Mary Ann Hudson, director of Lancaster County Voter Registration.
“I did not know,” Garris said of what the outcome would be. “I was very uneasy.”
In the end, she said she believes her leadership, integrity, compassion and visibility over the past four years served her well. She thanks the voters for their support.
“I feel like I've done my best to assess the needs of the community,” she said.
With a second term now in front of her, Garris, 38, wants to continue the work she's done with the local outreach group she founded a few years ago – Lancaster Alternative Policing Strategy (LAPS).
Among her goals is to launch a program to help residents with criminal records get expungements. In return, those people will have to give community service.
She plans to vouch for more road improvements, work to bring jobs to the city and help residents who don't have a high school diploma get a GED.
Garris also said she hopes she can reach those residents who didn’t vote for her.
“I want to really focus on bringing the community back together,” Garris said. “Elections can tend to divide people.”
‘I’m happy for her’
Looking back, Cureton, a political newcomer, said she didn’t have enough people to help her with the campaign.
She questions if she was visible enough or if the residents simply preferred Garris.
At any rate, Cureton was congratulatory on Wednesday.
“I wish her well and I’m happy for her,” Cureton said about Garris.
Cureton said she plans to become more involved in the community and says there's a chance she could run for office again in the future.
City Council members, who are elected on a non-partisan basis, serve four-year terms.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152