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Midstate voters decide some primary races

Middle Georgia voters had their say in a bevy of local elections, turning some veteran politicians out of office and sending other races to a runoff next month. Here’s a look at the results.

Crawford County

One county commissioner lost his seat, and another regained his party’s nomination in Crawford County’s primary Tuesday.

In District 5, which covers the eastern part of the county near Byron, incumbent Eddie Still lost to Paul Chapman, 162-112, in the Republican primary.

Chapman said he’s looking forward to facing the Democratic nominee, Barbara Kelly, in November.

“Barbara and I are good friends, so we’re going to have to sit down and talk about running against each other. But I really hope I get the chance to serve and to see what we can do in Crawford County to conserve taxpayer money,” Chapman said.

In District 1, which stretches across the area south of Roberta, incumbent Frank Hollis beat out Bill Head in a 153-69 contest for the Democratic nomination for commissioner.

Hollis will now face Republican nominee Larry Cooley in November. Cooley won his party’s nomination unopposed Tuesday.

“I’m so pleased that I only have one more hole to cross in order to be re-elected in November,” Hollis said.

Only about 20 percent of the county’s 7,647 voters cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election.

Jones County

Retired elementary schoolteacher Ginger Bailey and poultry-production manager Wally Hunter, both political newcomers, will meet in an Aug. 10 runoff for the Republican bid to be the next chairman of the Jones County Board of Education.

Bailey garnered 944 votes to Hunter’s 739. Candidate Ken Hamilton drew 654.

Bailey, a teacher for two and a half decades, said, “We’re just going to have to get people back to the polls. We’ll just put on the shoes and go back out beating on the doors. ... I halfway expected it to be a runoff.”

August’s victor will face Democrat Josh Lurie in the general election, with the winner replacing chairman and 30-year board veteran James Stone, who is stepping down from office.

In the county’s other school board race, longtime Jones school board member Larry Haskins won the Republican primary in the District 3 seat.

Incumbent Haskins topped challenger Brady Skinner by 136 votes, 490-354. Haskins, a veteran of three-plus decades on the board, will run against Democrat J.D. Collins this fall.

“One hurdle is over,” Haskins said. “I’m pleased to have been nominated again in the primary, we’ll just see what’s going to happen in November.”

Monroe County

Both County Commission seats contested Tuesday in the Republican primary ended up in runoffs.

In District 3, incumbent Mike Bilderback will face Patsy J. Miller, a former Monroe County tax commissioner, in a runoff.

District 4 will feature a runoff between incumbent Jim Peters and Joe Proctor Sr., a former county commissioner who served on the board for 17 years.

The runoffs will decide who wins those seats, because no Democrats ran in the commission races.

Proctor, 78, left the commission several years ago when he became ill. Now given a clean bill of health by his doctor, Proctor said he enjoyed hitting the campaign trail again.

“I’ve been expecting (a runoff),” said Proctor, who trailed Peters by just 29 votes. “We’re going to run it off and see what happens.”

Third-place finisher Donald Smith finished with 241 votes.

In the District 4 race, Proctor said property taxes were a critical issue in the county.

Peters, 59, a two-term county commissioner, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. Peters said last month there are several key issues facing Monroe County residents, including water, roads and taxes.

The District 3 race was fairly contentious, with Miller, 68, and third-place finisher John Ambrose Sr. attacking Bilderback for relinquishing his authority on water issues in the county.

Bilderback, 40, also a two-term incumbent, defended himself during the campaign by saying he made an expedient move by getting help from Monroe County Commissioner James Vaughn to break gridlock among commission members to get things done.

Bilderback, who was not reached for comment Tuesday night, held a 33-vote advantage over Miller, who also was unavailable for comment.

Twiggs County

One newcomer and one incumbent came out on top in the Twiggs County Board of Education primary.

With 241 votes, District 1 incumbent Yolanda Height, 37, of Dry Branch, won by 18 votes over Herman Wimberly, 50, of Jeffersonville, who captured 223 votes.

Height, who is serving her first term on the board, was not available for comment Tuesday night. She said in June that she wanted to make sure high school graduation test scores increased. She also said she would like to see tutoring offered for students who need it.

In District 3, with 314 votes, newcomer LaCharn Cobb Dennard, 41, easily upset her opponent, 20-year board member Ethel Stanley, 75, who garnered 108 votes. Both candidates are from Dry Branch.

“I feel wonderful,” Dennard said by phone from outside the Twiggs County Courthouse as she gathered with her family. “It was a tough fight — I had to knock on a lot of doors. I’m thankful for Mrs. Stanley and the years of service she’s given the community, but I think our community was ready for a change. ... I’m excited and just ready to get to work.”

Peach County

Dooly County Middle School assistant principal Donald Williams defeated Mike Gilstrap, former executive vice president and chief operating officer for The Medical Center of Central Georgia, in the Democratic race for the Post 5, at-large seat on the Peach County Board of Education.

Williams, of Fort Valley, held a narrow win over Gilstrap, of Byron, receiving 992 votes — 72 votes more than Gilstrap’s 920. The candidates do not have any Republican opposition.

“I’m a true educator by heart,” Williams said Tuesday night while celebrating at home with family. “I have the experience and knowledge to make the decisions for the children of Peach County to get the best education.”

Williams replaces board member Kay Whitley, who did not seek re-election.

Pulaski County

A measure to extend a special purpose local option sales tax in Pulaski County was approved by more than 60 percent of those voting, unofficial vote totals show.

In all, 627 votes were cast in favor of the SPLOST, and there were 378 votes cast against the measure.

The new tax is expected to generate about $7.2 million in revenues earmarked for city and county projects such as a multipurpose facility at the Pulaski County Recreation Department.

Other projects include a new city hall for Hawkinsville as well as the renovation of the Hawkinsville Opera House.

The current six-year SPLOST is scheduled to end Sept. 30. The new SPLOST will replace the old one, with sales taxes remaining at 7 cents on the dollar.

Compiled by Telegraph writers Phillip Ramati, Joe Kovac Jr., Carl Lewis, Becky Purser, Andrea Castillo and Linda Morris.

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