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Peterman captures District 6 in a big way

Frank Peterman Jr. didn't just win the District 6 City Council seat, he dominated.

With laser-like precision, Peterman drew nearly twice as many votes from precinct after precinct than did three-term incumbent David T. Welch.

"It seems like we didn't even stop (campaigning) after the last election, does it Frank?" campaign chairman Louis Whitehead said to Peterman as they drove to City Hall about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Whitehead was referring to Peterman's first challenge to Welch four years earlier. Although Peterman had actually gathered a few more votes than Welch within District 6 in 1993, he lost the general election elsewhere in the city.

But not this time. Throughout the city, Peterman's lead of about 63 percent of the vote never wavered more than a percentage point or two as the returns piled in.

Peterman thought he won because his core campaign group remained intact after the 1993 campaign.

"We got together and dissected what we did the last time, the good and the bad," Peterman said. "It took us over a year to work through it all."

To supporters gathered at the Heritage Holiday Inn Hotel, he said: "God has given us this victory. God has given us this victory. Praise God for it."

Peterman, 34, is a customer service supervisor for MCI Communications.

Welch, 69, had served two consecutive terms from 1981 to 1989, then sat out a term because of the City Charter's two-term limit before winning a third term in 1993.

But Peterman used Welch's age and political longevity as his chief campaign theme: Welch, he said, had grown out of touch with voters' concerns. The 6th was overdue for a change, he said.

That tack irked Welch, who said he had always maintained closed communications links with his constituents. He cited his presence on the streets during last fall's disturbances as an example.

When the final numbers were posted, Welch's accounting office was silent until 4-year-old Keonna Welch approached her grandfather David, climbed up in his lap and and said in a small voice: "Welcome home."

Welch burst into laughter.

Then Alletha Welch asked her husband: "Can we take a cruise?"

_ Staff photographer V. Jane Windsor contributed to this report.

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