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Sheriff's race among those headed for runoff

Field also thinned for BOC District 4, coroner

POSTED: August 1, 2012 9:08 a.m.
Jim Dean/

Meredith Aase, left, looks on as father Paul fills out an election form Tuesday before voting at Sharon Forks library. A runoff election will be required Aug. 21 to decide several of the contests.

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With four local races headed to a runoff Aug. 21, the election cycle is far from over in Forsyth County.

“We’ve already got some things already ready and we’ll hit the ground running tomorrow morning,” said Elections Supervisor Barbara Luth on Tuesday night. “There’s no time off for us.”

On a crowded Republican ballot, Forsyth voters decided two contested races for state legislature and county commission, as well as chief magistrate. They also helped set the field for District 7 U.S. House of Representatives in November.

And they resoundingly rejected a referendum on a regional sales tax to support transportation projects. The issue also failed to garner support in the other counties that make up the Georgia Mountains Region.

But the field only was thinned — not decided — in fourth other key races: coroner, sheriff, county commission District 4 and U.S. House District 9.

Nearly 31 percent of the county’s some 100,600 registered voters cast a ballot in the primary.

“It was better than I anticipated and I’m glad,” Luth said. “I thought maybe we’d have 25 percent.”

 

Sheriff

 

Incumbent Ted Paxton and Duane Piper were the top two vote-getters in a three-man race and advance to a runoff Aug. 21.

Paxton received 13,093 votes, or 48 percent of the total, while Piper received 7,529 votes, or 27 percent.

Lauren McDonald III, who has served as the county’s coroner for the past 12 years, received 6,860 votes, or 25 percent.

Paxton and Piper both said they’re looking forward to the extended campaign.

“We feel confident and are right where we thought we were going to be at,” Paxton said of his campaign. “Obviously with three people in a race, it’s going to be hard for anybody to break out with 50 [percent plus one vote].

“But now with it being head to head, we feel confident we will prevail.”

Piper said all the hard work now comes down to the runoff.

“My reaction is that it’s been a 10-month campaign and it’s down to three weeks now,” he said. “We’ve still got work to do. We’ll just keep working doing the same things we’ve been doing.”

McDonald said he enjoyed the opportunity.

“It was a great experience to run for such an important office in the county,” he said. “I enjoyed meeting new people. I enjoyed the platform that we had and I hope we made a difference out there.”

 

County commission

 

Two incumbent Forsyth County commissioners — Brian Tam in District 2 and Jim Boff in District 5 — won their respective primary contests, while a third is headed to a runoff Aug. 21.

In District 4, Patrick Bell will face Cindy Jones Mills.

No Democrats qualified for any of the commission races, which were elected by district for the first time.

Unless an independent enters November’s general election, the winners of the primary will have clinched the post.

Tam received 3,048 votes, or 58 percent, to Dennis Brown’s 1,952 votes, or about 37 percent. Scott Padis received 280 votes, for about 5 percent of the total.

It will be Tam’s third term in District 2, which includes much of south Forsyth.

Tam said he was “grateful” to the voters, as well as his family, friends and supporters during the campaign.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity of serving my constituents and continuing to bring them quality amenities while providing one of the lowest tax rates in the region,” he said.

Brown and Padis could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.

Over in District 5, which covers eastern Forsyth, Boff earned about 61 percent, or 3,555 votes, of the total to John Derucki’s 39 percent, or about 2,229 votes.

Boff, who said he was “thrilled to have won” the race, thanked supporters and the district’s voters.

“I will do my best to continue in the same vein that I have so far, and I think we have good days ahead in our county,” he said.

For his part, Derucki had “no regrets” in his campaign.

With a “new appreciation” for what it takes to step up for an elected position, he wished the best to all the candidates regardless of whether they came out on top.

Mills received the most votes of the five candidates vying for the post in District 4, which spans most of north Forsyth.

She garnered 2,538 votes, or about 44 percent. Bell also advanced to the runoff with 1,535 votes, or about 27 percent.

Also in the hunt Tuesday: Tim Hubbard, Bill Mulrooney and Charles Meagher.

Both Mills and Bell said they expected the crowded race to end in a runoff election.

“[The vote] clearly shows that people are interested in pro-business and pro-jobs and they’re happy with what I’ve been doing or I wouldn’t have made the runoff,” Bell said.

Mills was “excited and humbled by the great show of support from the voters of District 4.”

“In a five-man race, to get 44 percent is a great achievement,” she said. “I’m just a step closer to being the next commissioner and I’m excited about it.”

 

Coroner

 

Also headed to a runoff this month are Forsyth County coroner candidates Mary Beth Pais and Harold Bennett.

Pais received 10,570 votes, or about 43 percent, while Bennett tallied 8,150 votes, or about 34 percent. Mark Musselwhite took 23 percent, or 5,688 votes.

Pais said she “looks forward to the opportunity” of the runoff. “Hopefully on Aug. 21, I will be successful.”

Added Bennett: “I still hope there’s interest in this race because I still think I’m better qualified for the position.”

 

State legislature

 

Two races — House District 26 and Senate District 27 — came down to the wire.

In both — because there was less than 1 percentage point between the candidates — a recount can be requested, said Luth, who added it must be conducted prior to election certification Friday.

In the House race, political newcomer Geoff Duncan defeated Tom Knox, a former state lawmaker, by 55 votes.

Duncan received 50.31 percent or 4,503 votes to Knox’s 49.69 percent, or 4,448 votes.

“When you get down to the end and you see that you lost by 55 votes, the people have spoken and the campaign is over with and the election is over with and that’s the system we operate under and it’s a good one,” Knox said.

Duncan said he was nervous watching the election returns, which sent the lead back in forth throughout the night. But prior to that, it was like the calm before the storm.

“Today was probably the most relaxed day I’ve had in six months,” he said. “Our team has worked so hard and we put everything out on the line. We had so many volunteers just thinking through all the effort that’s being put forward.”

In the District 27 state Senate race, incumbent Jack Murphy held off challenger Steve Voshall by 117 votes.

“I was surprised by how close it was,” Murphy said. “I’m just glad I won. I feel very fortunate that people have chosen me to send me back to the Senate for another term.”

Murphy received 13,282 votes, or about 50.2 percent. Voshall’s 49.8 percent total equaled about 13,165 votes.

Voshall said he too was surprised, but pleased with the closeness of the race.

“I’m quite proud of myself and my supporters and volunteers,” he said. “I think we ran a great race, an honest race and we got the facts out and we kept it to the facts.”

 

 

Check back for updates at forsythnews.com or see the next edition of the Forsyth County News for complete coverage of Tuesday’s primary.

 

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