NEW ORLEANS - In Saturday's special City Council at-large election Stacy Head narrowly defeated Cynthia Willard-Lewis by just over 200 votes in results that will still need to be certified by the Secretary of State's office.
Final but unofficial returns showed Head receiving 27,787 votes to Willard-Lewis' 27,506.
Willard-Lewis indicated she will ask for a recount, in a race that will make the certification of the official results in the coming week a closely-watched event.
The election results went back and forth all night and Channel 4 political analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos said he was pleasantly surprised by voter turnout that exceeded 20 percent.
"Folks, if you think your vote doesn't count, take a look at these results," DuBos said. "It's a remarkable turnout when you consider this was the only thing on the ballot (in Orleans Parish)."
Head, a Democrat first elected to the District B seat on the City Council in 2006, had the support of fellow council members Jackie Clarkson, Kristin Palmer, Susan Guidry and defeated council candidate Austin Badon. All of them joined Head on stage at her victory party.
"Thank you so much to the citizens of New Orleans for believing in me. I believe in you," said an elated Stacy Head to supporters gathered at Le Chat Noir on St. Charles Ave. "I will work hard to represent every single area of this city."
After speaking to her supporters at a party at the Basin St. Station, Willard-Lewis, who had received the endorsement of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, said the race was still too close to call.
"It's certainly been a cliffhanger," WIllard-Lewis said shortly after delivering a speech to supporters.
"The numbers are so tight, with less than one vote per precinct, I think it's too close to call. We want to look at the real numbers this week," she said.
"The weather today may have affected voter turnout," she said. "That's why it's so important for us to look at every number and where we got reports of difficulties with voting machines or other irregularities, we need to examine each one of those."
Willard-Lewis, a Democrat, previously served on the council representing District E. She tried unsuccessfully to run for the at-large post once before but lost in a special election to Jackie Clarkson. Willard-Lewis was elected to the state senate in 2010 but was defeated last year after redistricting remapped her district.