By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Things didn’t look good for incumbent Clerk Carolyn Phillips toward the later hours of Tuesday’s primary election.
Down by 22 votes to challenger Barbara Meeks – with all six precincts reporting – Phillips came back to win the Democratic nomination through absentee votes.
She finished with nearly 80 more votes and will run unopposed for her sixth term as clerk in November. The position holds a four-year term that ends in 2020.
“You’re always nervous when the precincts come so close,” Phillips said. “You get a little nervous. But AB voters always play a part in Benton Township when it’s a close one.”
There was a jump in absentee voters from the 2012 primary for Benton Township. About 250 sent in their votes ahead of time in 2012, the township received 601 absentee ballots Tuesday.
Phillips said for most of the night, she wasn’t aware how close the primary was until she had finished making sure all the precincts were in.
“We have so many end-of-the-night things to do that it was not where my focus was,” Phillips said. “When I found out the precincts were there, I just kept thinking the ABs are not in. I was maybe afforded five minutes to freak out.”
Whether she wins by 10 or 100 votes, the 62-year-old said she is thankful to her supporters.
“It makes you a little humble that you aren’t given something automatically,” said Phillips, who is closing out her fifth term as clerk.
No back and forth
Supervisor Kevin White was also facing a close race Tuesday night prior to absentee votes coming in. At 1 a.m. with all precincts reporting, White held a slim eight-vote lead over challenger Joseph Taylor.
White would go on to pad his lead with absentee ballots and finish ahead by 33 votes.
“I’m excited and appreciative for all of the support,” White said. “We have exceptional people that work in Benton Township and exceptional people who live in Benton Township.”
The 45-year-old Michigan Department of Transportation employee said he didn’t trust anything until the total numbers came in from the county Wednesday morning.
“We kept pretty busy around here,” he said. “I wasn’t even checking them. I maybe checked one precinct and stopped. I didn’t want to go back and forth.”