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Gilligan wins state House District 24 seat

By the numbers

The results from the special election runoff to fill the District 24 seat in the state House of Representatives:

* Sheri Gilligan — 2,853 votes, or about 75 percent

* David Van Sant — 947 votes, or about 25 percent


Source: Forsyth County Elections Office

CUMMING — It was worth the wait. Four weeks after coming an estimated three votes shy of claiming the race outright, Sheri Gilligan won the special election runoff Tuesday to fill the District 24 seat in the state House of Representatives.

And Gilligan left little doubt this time, receiving 2,853 votes, or about 75 percent of the total, to fellow Republican David Van Sant’s 947 votes, or 25 percent.

“I’ve never been so proud with a group of volunteers as I’ve been with the people who’ve worked so tirelessly for me,” Gilligan said. “Every phone call they made, every door that they knocked on, everything they did got me to this point. I am so very proud.”

Van Sant expressed gratitude to his supporters and congratulated Gilligan on her victory.

“I appreciate all the support we had. We had a lot of good people out there behind us, and Sheri got her people out there behind her as well,” he said. “I just look forward to her accomplishing the things that she ran on.”

Gilligan, a former CIA analyst and U.S. Navy Reserves veteran who teaches at Lanier Technical College, said she had not been notified of when she would officially take office. She will fill the post vacated by Mark Hamilton, the longtime Republican incumbent who resigned from the position in May to pursue a private sector job in Tennessee.

District 24 includes parts of six precincts in Forsyth County — Coal Mountain, Cumming, Heardsville, Midway, Otwell and Polo. Voter turnout for the runoff topped 11 percent, with 3,800 of the district’s 34,371 registered voters casting ballots. Some 1,660 of them did so during the advance voting period leading up to Tuesday.

Both Gilligan and Van Sant, a local attorney, are Republicans. They were the top two candidates in the June 16 special election, which also included fellow Republicans Ethan Underwood and Will Kremer. No Democrats qualified to run

In that contest, Gilligan received about 49.9 percent of the total — an estimated three to four votes shy of an outright win — while Van Sant received about 24.5 percent.

Gilligan said her priority at the state Capitol will be to “do what is absolutely best for the people of Forsyth County and the 24th District,” with an emphasis on curbing spending.

“I’m just going to work with some of the great legislators who have been helping me and supporting me in this race,” she said. “I’ll be working with them as we keep Georgia prosperous.”

Throughout her campaign, Gilligan emphasized cutting taxes, localizing control of education and upholding religious freedom.

Seth Weathers, Van Sant’s political consultant, said he was proud of the work done by their team.

“Everybody worked hard, and we had a longshot race,” Weathers said. “I think considering the situation, we did well, and David congratulates his opponent.”

Voter turnout for Tuesday’s election was about 11.1 percent. Barbara Luth, Forsyth County supervisor of voter registrations and elections, said that was high for a runoff.

“The candidates got out there and pushed to have people go out and vote,” she said. “I think after the [June] election, we did have some people say that maybe their vote would have made a difference.”

Six provisional ballots were received, and five were counted, according to Luth. There were no long lines or waits at the polls Tuesday.