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Voters revamp city hall

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
Howard Shell will return to the mayor's office without a run-off. He took a clear, though narrow margin over his two opponents in Tuesday's election.
Of 1,733 votes cast in the mayor's race, Shell received 893 votes, avoiding a run-off by only 25 votes.
Incumbent Mayor Rodney Owens received 629 votes and challenger Seth Dettling got 211 votes.
Shell served as a councilman from 1984 to 1986. He was appointed mayor in 1986 and re-elected to the office in 1988 and 1992. He was defeated four years ago by Owens.
Shell rode out the election at his home.
Owens manned the board at city hall Tuesday evening, writing in the results as the boxes came in. When the figures were totaled, Shell was the clear winner.
Taking a cue from a popular commercial, Owens said, "I'm going to Disney World," when he realized he had lost the election.
As supporters came by to hug Owens, he talked about the future of the city.
Dettling watched the results being totaled in the city hall lobby.
Afterwards, he said, "The next step is to effect change through the private sector and not through the office of mayor. I was overwhelmed by the people's response and their support. A lot of people shared my optimism for Atmore."
Dettling said he felt his running for mayor had changed the tone of the public debate, and that he communicated issues that were not being communicated and that the voters responded.
The face of the Atmore City Council will change drastically with only two of the current five city councilmen returning to office.
Challenger Webb Nall defeated incumbent Jerry Gehman for the District 1 seat. Nall got 190 votes to Gehman's 173. Gehman had served one term on the council.
In District 2, incumbent John Watkins defeated political newcomer Daniel Lyles by a vote of 190 to 109. Watkins is beginning his third term on the council.
Long-time Councilman Curtis Harris declined to run for another term. Louie Turner III was unopposed for the seat in District 3.
Incumbent John Garrard got 353 votes to hold off challenger Ricky Morgan who received 256 votes in his first bid for office. This will be Garrard's second term.
Incumbent David McKinley and challenger Sheri McKinley were defeated by Jim Staff by a wide margin. David McKinley served two terms on the council. This was Sheri McKinley's first run for political office in Atmore. Staff got 204 votes to David McKinley's 72 and Sheri McKinley's 17.
The mayor and councilmen will take office the first Monday in October.
A certification meeting will be held today, Wednesday, at city hall at 11 a.m.