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Gardner wins District 5

75 countywide mail-in ballots still to be counted

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POSTED: May 20, 2014 7:43 p.m.
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Rick Gardner

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UPDATE: According to the Secretary of State website unofficial results, Rick Gardner is the clear winner of the county commission District 5 seat with more than 58 percent of the vote (or 225 votes) to Jimmy Henderson's more than 41 percent (or 161 votes). 

Rick Gardner is the victor in the Republican primary race for the District 5 seat on the Bryan County Board of Commissioners.

Gardner outpolled incumbent Jimmy Henderson 212-172, according to early unofficial results reported around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. Polls closed at 7 p.m.

Elections officials said there were still about 75 mail-in votes to be counted, but it was unclear whether enough of those were from District 5 voters to change the results.

If the unofficial results stand, Gardner will replace the man who defeated him in the GOP primary four years ago and went on to run unopposed for the District 5 seat.

Henderson declined to comment Tuesday night. Gardner, who will take the seat barring a challenge from a write-in candidate in the November general election, said he’s ready to get to work.

“I’m proud and honored the citizens of 5th district saw fit to elect me,” he said. “I will begin working tomorrow and contact the chairman.

I’m not going to wait until January to get into the work mode. I told citizens I would hit the ground running and I will do that.”

The contest between Gardner, a retired Army aviator who served in the post from 2002-2010, and Henderson, a county native who worked for more than 30 years for Hobart, was the only contested local race in the primary election.

Perhaps as a result, turnout was light throughout early voting and again Tuesday — at least in some areas.

Stephen Benes, a poll manager at Precinct 5 in recreation center in Richmond Hill, said only 48 people had voted in his precinct by 12:45 p.m.

But Precinct 6 poll officer Diane Harrison said there was steady flow of people voting at the John W. Stevens Wetlands Education Center at J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill.

Among those residents who came out to cast ballots were first-time voter Loretta Mckee, an 18-year-old senior at Richmond Hill High School.

Mckee, who cast her ballot at Precinct 6, said she did so because she thought it was important and “cool” her opinion counted.

Her father, Eugene Mckee, said he helped his daughter because “that’s democracy.”

“It’s our responsibility to vote,” he said.

Also voting Tuesday was Eva Newbold, a 19-year-old college student. She said her mom pressured her to come out and vote but that she was excited to vote for Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Michelle Nunn.

There were a handful of other local candidates on the GOP primary ballot Tuesday, but all were unopposed and are not facing opposition in November barring as yet unforeseen challengers.

Those include the county commission’s District 4 Commissioner Carter Infinger and District 2 Commissioner Wade Price.

Bryan County Board of Education Chairman Eddie Warren, District 1 member Paine Bacon, District 4 member Marianne Smith and District 5 member David Schwartz are also unopposed.

There were a handful of important contests at the federal level and results were not available at press time — but many election watchers expect a runoff.

 

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