BY KRISTI REED
After months of intense campaigning, the book has closed on several Barrow County races.
The races for Dist. 1 commissioner, Dist. 2 commissioner and Clerk of Superior Court are now over. The chairman’s race is headed for a runoff and, in perhaps the biggest upset of the night, a Winder police sergeant defeated a longtime employee of the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office in a bid to be the county’s next top lawman.
In the multi-county District Attorney’s race, the incumbent fell to his challengers in what will be another runoff for area voters.
GARRISON, YEARWOOD IN RUNOFF
With none of the three candidates for chairman of Barrow County able to secure a majority of the vote, the race will now be decided in the August 5 runoff between incumbent Doug Garrison and challenger Danny Yearwood.
Yearwood garnered the most votes with 2,728 or 43 percent of the total votes cast. Garrison finished second with 2,398 votes of 38 percent of the total. The third candidate, Jim Beckemeyer, finished a distant third with 1,117 votes or 17 percent of the total.
Garrison praised Yearwood and his supporters for their hard work in the primary. Garrison said Yearwood did a good job mobilizing supporters and getting his message out. In the next few weeks, Garrison will be trying to do the same.
“I need to get my message out that I want to continue to prepare our county for the future,” Garrison said. “I think [Barrow County is] heading in the right direction. I think we’ve done some good things. I need to shore up my troops and continue to get the word out about where we’re heading and about how we can accomplish that by working together with these new commissioners that were elected tonight.”
The winner of the August 5 runoff for chairman will be working with at least two new commissioners next January.
In Dist. 1, Larry Joe Wilburn defeated incumbent Jerry Lampp by 289 votes to take the victory. Of the 1,473 votes cast in the race, Wilburn received 60 percent of the vote to Lampp’s 40 percent.
After hours of waiting for results to come in, a relieved and happy Wilburn said he was ready to get to work. Over the next few months, Wilburn plans to meet with citizens, business people and local officials to prepare for his new role.
“I want to get a running start so that when I go in, I’ll know what I’m doing,” Wilburn said. “There’s a lot of knowledge in this county and we need to tap it.”
While pleased with the results, Wilburn is glad to put the primary behind him.
“I’m glad it’s over with and I’m glad I won,” he said.
In district 2, challenger Eva Elder beat incumbent Bill Brown by 134 votes to take over as the new Dist. 2 commissioner. Elder won 55 percent of the votes compared to Brown’s 45 percent.
After the results were in, Elder admitted she was nervous but excited.
“I’m very pleased,” she said. “I have a lot of things I’m planning to do between now and January.”
While the District 3 race will not be decided until November, voters had their chance to decide who would represent the Republican Party against Democratic candidate Bill Healan. By a 68 percent to 32 percent margin, voters chose to put Steve Worley on the ballot instead of Tom Williamson.
Out of 789 votes cast, Worley received 540 while Williamson got 249 votes.
Worley said he was going to take some time and devise a game plan for the November election.
“Then I’m going to get out there and knock on some doors like I’ve been doing,” he said.
Worley said he would reach out to citizens groups and individuals to improve communications between constituents and the commission.
“I want the citizens and groups to contact me. I want anybody that’s in my district – any type of group, associations, whatever – to contact me. I want that communication gap closed up. Whatever the members of my district want, that’s where I’m going.”
Worley said he is ready for the challenges ahead as campaigning resumes.
“It’ll be a good race,” he said. “I know Bill, I like Bill. It’ll be fun.”
AND THE LAW WON
Candidate Murray Kogod had the right pedigree to take over as Barrow County Sheriff, but Winder police sergeant and sheriff’s department outsider Jud Smith had the most supporters in Tuesday’s primary.
At the end of the night, Smith defeated Kogod by a 1,553 vote margin in what many saw as a major upset.
Smith won 62 percent of the vote to Kogod’s 38 percent and will now square off against Democratic candidate James Bonnemer in November.
A grateful and gracious Smith said he was surprised by the large margin of victory against such a strong opponent.
“Murray was a wonderful opponent,” Smith said. “We both had a good team.”
Smith also praised Kogod’s co-workers at the Sheriff’s Office and said he looks forward to working with them.
“We want to tap into all the professionals we have there already. We’ve got a good group there,” he said. “I think we’re ready to move forward quickly.”
While Smith plans to take a few days off to enjoy some time with his family, he plans to resume his campaign soon.
“We’ve still got work to do. We’ve still got to go until November,” Smith said. “We’re going to continue the same path we’ve been on. We want state certification. We want to improve on the services the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office provides.”
District Attorney candidate Brad Smith led Barrow County with 46 percent of the vote. Neither Smith nor opponents Donna Sikes or incumbent Rick Bridgeman garnered enough support to avoid a runoff.
The top two vote getters, Smith and Sikes, will face each other in an August 5 runoff.
In Barrow County, Smith received a total of 2,891 votes compared to 1,974 votes for Sikes and 1,366 votes for incumbent Rick Bridgeman.
In other contested races, Barrow County voters selected Regina Brock McIntyre over Lois Bernius to serve as the next Clerk of Superior Court.
Incumbent June Davis defeated challenger Monica Durden in the Republican primary battle for Chief Magistrate. Davis will face Democratic challenger Johnny Smith in November.