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Forsyth voters decide one of two special election contests, narrow field for other
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Avery Stone casts his ballot Tuesday at Cumming City Hall. - photo by Jim Dean (previous profile)

By the numbers

State House District 24

* Sheri Gilligan — 49.9 percent, 1,785 votes

* Will Kremer — 4.8 percent, 171 votes

* Ethan Underwood — 21 percent, 739 votes

* David Van Sant — 24.5 percent, 877 votes

 

Cumming City Council Post 1

* Roger Crow — 22.5 percent, 88 votes

* Linda Ledbetter — 25 percent, 98 votes

* Julie Tressler — 22.5 percent, 88 votes

* Chuck Welch — 30 percent, 117 votes

 

Source: Forsyth County elections office

CUMMING — It appears voters in Cumming and Forsyth have the answer to one special election that took place Tuesday, while the other looks headed to a runoff.

Though the results are unofficial until the Board of Elections meeting Friday, Chuck Welch claimed the Cumming City Council Post 1 seat with about 30 percent, or 117 votes, of the tally in a four-person race.

In the race for the District 24 seat in the state House of Representatives, Sheri Gilligan secured 49.9 percent of the total, or 1,785 of the 3,572 votes.

Finishing second was David Van Sant, who received 24.5 percent of the total, or 877 votes. Ethan Underwood and Will Kremer came in third and fourth, respectively. All four candidates are Republicans.

To win the race outright, Gilligan needs to reach 50 percent, plus one vote. As of Thursday night, she was two votes shy of that threshold.

“If it holds, we’ll have a runoff,” said Barbara Luth, Forsyth’s supervisor of voter registrations and elections.

The winner of a Gilligan-Van Sant runoff will serve the remaining 18 months left on the term vacated by longtime incumbent Mark Hamilton, who stepped down in May to pursue a job opportunity in Tennessee.

However, the elections board will receive three provisional ballots on Friday that could change the outcome, according to Luth.

And there is one absentee ballot that has not been returned from South Africa. The deadline for that also is Friday.

“We had a 10.49 percent turnout. That’s not bad for a special election,” Luth said.

For the non-partisan council race, a total of 391 people cast ballots, with each candidate receiving between 22 and 30 percent.

A runoff was not a consideration, as the contest went to the top vote-getter.

Former Forsyth County Commissioner Linda Ledbetter finished second in the race to fill the post opened by the retirement of longtime incumbent Rupert Sexton. Ledbetter received 98 votes, or about 25 percent. Roger Crow and Julie Tressler finished in a tie for third place.

Welch, a senior vice president with Community Business Bank and lifelong Cumming resident, will be a second-generation councilman when he takes office next month.

His father Charles Welch, namesake of a prestigious award given annually by the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, served on the council and later the Forsyth County commission.

Luth noted there were no reported technical problems Tuesday at any of the six precincts — parts of Coal Mountain, Cumming, Midway, Heardsville, Otwell and Polo were eligible to vote.

“It went very smooth. The poll managers handled everything really well,” Luth said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

The only hiccup came in the form of inconvenience to those who showed up to vote but did not live in Cumming or District 24, which spans Cumming and parts of west and north Forsyth.

As of lunchtime, about 40 people had been turned away.

“I don’t know how many [or if there were any] more after that,” Luth said, “but once they had it explained to them they understood.”