City Voters Keep Freiling, Add Two New Faces to Council

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Vice Mayor Paul Freiling celebrates his win at the A Williamsburg Sampler Bed & Breakfast. (Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)
Vice Mayor Paul Freiling celebrates his win at the A Williamsburg Sampler Bed & Breakfast. (Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)

City of Williamsburg residents have chosen a new makeup for its City Council.

Voters elected the only incumbent on the ballot, Vice Mayor Paul Freiling, along with newcomers Barbara Ramsey and Benming “Benny” Zhang on Tuesday. Their four-year terms begin July 1.

Greg Granger, the owner of a radio station and rental company, and Elaine McBeth, a College of William & Mary professor and member of the city’s Planning Commission, fell short in the vote tally Tuesday night.

The five candidates were vying for three seats on council. Mayor Clyde Haulman and Councilwoman Judy Knudson announced earlier this year they would not seek re-election.

Freiling, who works as the director of special gifts programs at Colonial Williamsburg, garnered the most ballots of the five-person field, with 1,252 votes from the city’s two precincts. A vice mayor for the past six years, Freiling has been elected to his fourth term with Tuesday’s vote.

Benny Zhang, a senior at the College of William & Mary, celebrates with some of his supporters at The Crust. (Elizabeth Hornsby/WYDaily)
Benny Zhang, a senior at the College of William & Mary, celebrates with some of his supporters at The Crust. (Elizabeth Hornsby/WYDaily)

“It’s a statement of encouragement from the community that City Council is doing a good job and on the right course,” Freiling said. “… Thanks to the community of Williamsburg for allowing me to serve another term. I am going to do my best to serve this community to the utmost of my ability.”

Freiling also thanked Haulman and Knudson for their service “because the city wouldn’t be in this strong position without you.”

He also congratulated Ramsey and Zhang for their win, but also McBeth and Granger for putting themselves in the race.

“We need good people running for City Council,” Freiling said. “A local election is a very personal thing. It can make people feel vulnerable, so I really commend them for their efforts.”

Zhang, a senior at the College of William & Mary, took in 1,148 votes for a second-place finish.

With his win, he becomes the second William & Mary student to win a seat on council. Councilman Scott Foster, who won re-election two years ago, was the first in 2010.

“There is a lot of significance that comes with this for me, being the first Asian American elected to the Williamsburg City Council,” said Zhang, who will be defending his honors thesis on the first Asian American to attend the college Wednesday. “I hope voters saw me as a candidate that was for both students and residents, and I think they did.”

Barbara Ramsey, a first-time candidate, celebrates her win with supporters at her home on Griffin Ave. (Courtesy of Bruce Beringer)
Barbara Ramsey, a first-time candidate, celebrates her win with supporters at her home on Griffin Ave. (Courtesy of Bruce Beringer)

Ramsey, a 45-year city homeowner and contractor with Colonial Williamsburg’s Golden Horseshoe, tallied 1,083 votes. She edged McBeth, who came in fourth, by 75 votes.

“I’m especially thrilled, first to win and secondly that this victory shows that I represent a broad-base of support among both students and long-term residents,” Ramsey said. “I’m extremely happy and humbled and can’t wait to get started.”

Granger said he is proud of the race he has run and thanked those who supported him in the campaign.

“I’m really proud of my family, my old friends and my new-found friends. Regardless of the outcome I feel like I’m a winner because of them,” Granger said. “All my literature says I have a lifetime of commitment to Williamsburg, and that will continue on.”

In an email to WYDaily, McBeth thanked the more than 1,000 people who voted for her Tuesday and gave her best wishes to the winners in “the important task of guiding our city.

“I appreciate everyone’s best wishes and look forward to continuing working for you on the Planning Commission and the Economic Development Authority,” McBeth said.

WYDaily’s Elizabeth Hornsby contributed to this report.

 

RESULTS

Total:

Paul T. Freiling 1,252 23.02 percent
Greg H. Granger 946 17.40 percent
Elaine S McBeth 1,008 18.54 percent
Barb Ramsey 1,083 19.92 percent
Benny Zhang 1,148 21.11 percent
Write In 1 0.02 percent

 

Stryker Precinct:

Paul T. Freiling 474 23.80 percent
Greg H. Granger 411 20.63 percent
Elaine S McBeth 356 17.87 percent
Barb Ramsey 350 17.57 percent
Benny Zhang 401 20.13 percent
Write In 0 0.00

 

Matoaka Precinct:

Paul T. Freiling 701 22.20 percent
Greg H. Granger 483 15.29 percent
Elaine S McBeth 595 18.84 percent
Barb Ramsey 674 21.34 percent
Benny Zhang 705 22.32 percent
Write In 0 0.00 percent

 

Absentee Ballots:

Paul T. Freiling 77 26.74 percent
Greg H. Granger 52 18.06 percent
Elaine S McBeth 57 19.79 percent
Barb Ramsey 59 20.49 percent
Benny Zhang 42 14.58 percent
Write In 1 0.35 percent