Oxford mayor's election loss comes in wake of wife's death
Posted November 9, 2011
Updated November 14, 2011
Oxford, N.C. — Longtime Oxford Mayor Al Woodlief was ousted from office Tuesday night when voters elected current City Commissioner Jackie Sergent to the post.
As Election Day approached, Woodlief wasn't thinking much about politics and policy.
In October, Woodlief's wife, Anita, lost her lengthy battle with cancer.
"I did lose my best friend," Woodlief said Wednesday. "We were high school sweethearts. We would have been married 42 years this month."
As his wife's health worsened in recent months, he said, he shifted his attention more to family matters and less to campaigning.
"You just hope that your supporters will support you," Woodlief said. "You can't have your mind on that when you're trying to hold on to your wife."
Sergent received 930 votes, or 59.7 percent; Woodlief, mayor of 10 years, received 628 votes (40.3 percent).
Sergent, who has worked for more than 20 years for the Granville-Vance District Health Department, will become the town's first female mayor when she takes over in December.
She says she brings "something new to the table" and plans to do a lot of listening across the city.
"I think that my background in public health is a unique perspective in looking at the community as a whole, and looking at all the people in the community and assessing what the needs are and looking for targeted solutions," she said.
"I see Oxford thriving. I see a downtown that is growing and has active commerce. I see community engagement form all parts of the community. I see people working together for the betterment of all. I think this is a great opportunity," she added.
Prior to being elected to the mayor's office in 2001, Woodlief was a city commissioner for 14 years.
Woodlief said he hasn't ruled out a return to politics at some point. For now, he's focused on family and the several radio stations that he owns.