PATONG: The newly-elected Mayor of Patong, Chalermsak Maneesri, began work today after winning Saturday’s poll easily, scoring 4,236 votes against 2,514 for his nearest rival, Pian Keesin. K. Chalermsak is the brother of former mayor Surasak Maneesri, who was ordered to stand aside as mayor and not permitted to run in the election because of allegations of impropriety. K. Surasak denies the allegations. Electors were told that a vote for K. Chalermsak would be a vote for K. Surasak, because the deposed mayor would be his brother’s key adviser. Former mayor Pian Keesin finished a distant second with the third candidate, Chairat Sukbal, scoring 455 votes. There were 301 invalid ballot papers. The election was also a resounding victory for the Maneesri brothers’ Patong Progress Party, which took all the seats on the 18-member council. The new mayor declined to be interviewed today, meeting instead with Municipality officers. However, it was announced that Somkiat Kuru will be Deputy Mayor and the management team will comprise Somchai Burarak, Veerasak Kaminthong and the Mayor’s secretary, Raksak Noochet. Somchart Somnam has been named as a consultant. During his campaign, K. Chalermsak promised greater transparency, increased attention to education and the environment, and better treatment for the aged. Palad Somkiet Kwansuwan of Patong Municipal Office said that Saturday’s turnout of 68% was greater than in the previous mayoral election. Some people had problems finding their polling center and police are to investigate claims that election forms at one center did not have numbers on them. K. Chairat said he believed that some votes had been bought, and that electors had been brought in from Krabi, Trang and Nakorn Sri Thammarat to cast ballots, but said that he accepted the vote. K. Pian declined to discuss the election results.
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