With a turnout that saw better than two out of three registered voters in the city casting ballots, Kevin Begos bested Valentina Webb Tuesday to win the Apalachicola mayor's race.

Despina George defeated Barry Hand in the contest for city commisison seat #1.

Commissioner Brenda Ash read the results about 15 minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m., in a crowded room within the building that houses the offices of Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley.

Webb and her supporters were present, and a hush filled the room when it was announced that Begos, with 632 votes, or 52.8 percent, had outpolled Webb, with 565 votes, or 47.2 percent.

Begos, 61, of 109 15th Street, was not present at the elections office.

"Apalachicola citizens, as I’ve listened to you over the last three months one thing is clear: black, white or brown, newcomer or local, rich, poor or somewhere in between, we all want many of the same things from our city government," said Begos in a written statement, "I promise to work with all of you to make our city government better, fairer and more transparent. I am thankful for all the people who voted in this election, and thank Valentina Webb for running a dignified, clean campaign.

"I know how much Valentina and her supporters have done for the city over the years," he said. "You all will be a part of our future, too."

Webb, 55, of 255 11th Street, was gracious in defeat, and pledged to stay active in city politics.

"I welcome Kevin Begos as our next mayor for the city of Apalachicola, and I will get behind him and support him 100 percent," she said. "I will continue to be involved and active in my city."

Webb, whose campaign stood behind retaining City Manager Ron Nalley in contrast to Begos' critique, stopped short of saying the candidates' contrasting stances had been a factor in the election.

"It may have been, I just don't know what the factor was. He won, I lost," Webb said. "I will always be active in city politics, and I will stay on Kevin Begos' butt."

George, with 683 votes, or 57.4 percent, won by a comfortable margin over Hand, who gathered 506 votes, or 42.6 percent.

A turnout of 66.8 percent was enormous for an off-year city election, with nearly 70 percent of the voters who turned out casting ballots by either voting early or voting by mail before the polls even opened at the Armory at 7 a.m. 

Begos far outdistanced Webb in the week-long early voting totals, gathering 295 votes to Webb's 163.  Webb won the vote by mail balloting, as she collected 223 of these absentee votes to Begos' 142.

On Election Day, the voting was closer, with Begos drawing 195 votes to Webb's 179.

In the city commission race, George, 62, of 224 Whispering Pines Circle, was the big winner in early voting, collecting 326 votes to 129 for Hand, 51, of 22 Apaco Street. But Hand edged her in absentee balloting, 197 to 165, and George had slightly more ballots cast on Election Day, 192 to 180.

"With a 66 percent voter turnout, there is no doubt that the people of Apalachicola are invested in the future of our city, and that gives me great hope as we all move forward together to tackle the tough issues that we face," said George. "I look forward to the hard work ahead.

"I am grateful that my opponent, Barry Hand, ran such an honorable campaign, and for his example of service to our community," she said.