The fourth time was the charm for Dan Matthews’ political aspirations, as he narrowly won a seat on the Watkinsville City Council to earn his first seat in elective office.
Matthews, office manager for an Athens law firm, had previously made unsuccessful bids for the city council, for mayor of Watkinsville, and for a seat in the state legislature.
He took the council seat by a two-vote margin, winning the race 570-568 over challenger Mark Melvin, according to Oconee County elections officials. Incumbent councilman Mike Link opted not to seek re-election.
Matthews was declared the winner of the Post 5 seat on the city council on Monday, after the counting of a handful of absentee ballots cast from overseas. Those ballots did not have to be delivered to local elections officials until the close of business on Monday afternoon.
“I’m very humbled, and look forward to serving the people of Watkinsville,” Matthews said Monday afternoon after the final votes in the close contest for the open city council seat were counted.
Melvin was not immediately available for comment Monday, but in a Friday interview as he and Matthews were waiting for the final tally, Melvin said that if Matthews took the seat, “I wish him the best.” Melvin said he was gratified by the turnout for last Tuesday’s balloting, noting “the numbers of people who got out and voted in Watkinsville.”
Matthews said he was inspired to make his latest foray into politics through the example of Ashton Keegan, a 23-year-old Watkinsville woman who died in a single-vehicle accident in Oconee County in August. Keegan, known for her volunteer work at the Oconee County Animal Control Unit, died when her car ran off of Barnett Shoals Road, hit a street sign and crashed into a tree.
“When she passed away, I wanted to do something in her honor,” Matthews said.
Matthews has also found inspiration in the example of his late mother, Norma Sexton Matthews, who was also deeply involved in politics when the family lived in Iowa some years ago. Matthews said Monday that he remembers caucus meetings being held in the family home.
As for his own plans for his first term in elected office, Matthews said he would like to be involved in pedestrian safety issues, bicycle paths and sidewalks. He also said he planned to talk with Melvin to determine if there are any initiatives that Melvin would like for him to pursue during his time on the city council.
Members of the Watkinsville City Council serve two-year terms.