Monroe County voters spoke loudly in Tuesday night’s Republican primary runoff elections, replacing the incumbent county commissioners in Districts 3 and 4.
In District 3, former Monroe County Tax Commissioner Patsy Miller defeated two-term incumbent Mike Bilderback 669-500, while in District 4, former Commissioner Joe Proctor Sr. beat two-term incumbent Commissioner Jim Peters 549-458.
With no Democrats running for those seats, Tuesday’s winners will become commissioners barring any successful write-in candidates in November.
Bilderback blames an anti-incumbent feeling for his loss.
“I went into this knowing that people were against incumbents,” he said. “It came down to one thing. It was not about job performance — people were dissatisfied with their government. ... I don’t know anything else I could have done (during the campaign). I thought I had made a good case to remain in office. I had more expertise. But at the end of the day, (Miller) didn’t have an ‘I’ beside her name.”
Miller said she thought voters simply chose the better candidate.
“I felt like I was going to win,” she said. “I’m not trying to be smart-alecky about it. I just felt real confident. I had worked hard and did everything I could do.”
The District 3 race was heavily contested, with Bilderback coming under fire from Miller and the July 20 primary third-place finisher John Ambrose Sr. over relinquishing Bilderback’s authority on water issues in the county.
With water issues being among the most critical in the county, critics said Bilderback gave up too much of his influence in turning over his authority to Monroe County Commission Chairman James Vaughn.
But Bilderback said his decision at the time was the most expedient thing to do politically, because Vaughn was able to break through the gridlock with the commission and take care of the problems in District 3.
In District 4, the July 20 primary was extremely tight as Peters held a 29-vote lead over Proctor. Third-place finisher Donald Smith earned 241 votes during the primary, and seemingly the majority of those votes went to Proctor.
Attempts to reach Peters and Proctor were unsuccessful Tuesday night.
Proctor, who had served 17 years on the commission before health issues forced him to step down eight years ago, said after the primary that he enjoyed hitting the campaign trail again. His primary issue during the campaign was property taxes.
Peters ran on a platform that addressed several concerns in the county, including water, roads and taxes.
In Jones County, Ginger Bailey defeated Wally Hunter 950-893 in the Republican primary runoff for the county school board chairman’s seat.
Bailey, a retired schoolteacher, will face Democrat Josh Lurie in November. The winner of that race will replace 30-year board veteran James Stone as chairman. Stone is stepping down from the position.
“I’m still kind of processing it,” Bailey said Tuesday night. “It means many of the Jones County citizens are putting their trust in me. I don’t plan to let them down.”
On July 20, Bailey held a 944-739 lead over Hunter, with third-place finisher Ken Hamilton drawing 654 votes.
Bailey and Hunter, a poultry production manager, entered the race as political newcomers.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.