Tuskegee Mayor Ford defeated in run-off

Tuskegee, Al. (WSFA) -- It's an issue that had the town divided and candidates campaigning outside the polls at Tuskegee's Municipal Complex until the bitter end.

Then, Omar Neal, looking to oust seven term Mayor Johnny Ford, got the numbers he was hoping for.

Neal pulled off a 1,463 to 1,270 win, well above the 12 vote lead he held in August.

The former Macon County commissioner and now Tuskegee Mayor-elect says he's thankful for the support.

"You wait for this moment, and when it happens, it's a very difficult thing to put into words, but it's a great win.  Not for me, but for this community," Neal said.

Now that the elections are over, Neal says a city torn apart by a very close and aggressive race must come together before any real work can be done.

"The healing must begin today.  We need to realize that we're in this together, and no community can move forward divided," Neal explained.

Mayor Ford agrees--disappointed by the results but glad the election is over.

"It's not about Mr. Neal or me.  It's about what's in the best interest of Tuskegee," Ford said.

The current mayor, a veteran of city hall, tells WSFA 12 News he won't seek the mayor's spot again.

"If they want me back again, I'll say, 'No, thank you.'  There are other ways I can be of service," Ford explained.

As one political heavyweight is defeated, a fresh face is poised to take over as head of Tuskegee.

Both candidates are thankful the city can move forward.

The new mayor will receive a pay check of $25,000 per year.