The Liberty County Board of Commissioners will have a different dynamic come January, but only one new face will enter the fold.
District 4 incumbent Pat Bowen kept his seat Tuesday, and the vacant District 2 seat likely will be filled by political newcomer Justin Frasier.
At the helm of the seven-member board will be former District 2 Commissioner Donald Lovette, who beat challenger Maxie R. Jones IV in the July 31 Democratic primary.
More than 57.42 percent or 15,378 of the 26,780 active registered voters cast ballots, according to preliminary results available online at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.
“This is very good; this is very high,” Liberty County Elections Supervisor Ella Golden said about the turnout. Golden cautioned that no results are final until they are certified, which likely will be Friday.
Bowen takes District 4
Familiarity reigned in District 4 territory, which includes Fleming, Lake George, Isle of Wight, Woodland Lakes, Sunbury and parts of Hinesville.
At press time, 2,955 votes within District 4 were cast.
Of those, incumbent Pat Bowen, who has served on the board 14 years and is related by marriage to former county commission chairman M.L. Coffer, received 1,725 votes, or 58.38 percent.
His challenger, Ted Eby, a Pennsylvania native who moved to the county in 1995, received 1,230 votes, or 41.62 percent.
Reacting to the news late Tuesday, Eby, a Republican, said it was too early for him to tell the final outcome of the race, but he acknowledged he was behind.
“I appreciate everybody giving me their support. …,” Eby said. “I guess things can change once everything’s in, but we’ve done the best we can do. Ain’t much more to say, I guess.”
Bowen said he felt good with the numbers and reiterated that he’s always tried to listen and do what people ask of him.
“The basic thing is, I’ve got a group of people over here, every one of them — we’re friends, we’re family, we’re supporters — we’ve all worked together this summer, and it’s very hard to lose when you’ve got a good group of people working behind you,” Bowen said. “God bless America, God bless the American way, and God is good all the time.”
When asked whether his actions on the board would be affected by a Republican challenger pulling a tentative 41 percent of the vote, Bowen said he will maintain the path he is on.
“I’ll continue to listen to what the people want to try to accomplish, and they look for taxes (to go) down, and that’s what I try to do — just be truthful with them …,” he added. “I’ve always looked at every issue (as), ‘What’s best for Liberty County, and especially the 4th district’ … you know how I vote; I don’t always go with what the board decides on.”
For his part, Eby said his challenges included facing a well-connected incumbent and the county’s Democratic leanings.
“But I did have a lot of Democratic friends that did vote for me, but it’s not over yet,” he added.
While Eby said he likely will stay involved in the political scene in some fashion, he said he’d like to see more people take active roles.
“The people need to get out there and run for office and don’t give anybody a free ride, because a lot of them weren’t contested,” Eby said. “I believe people need to be involved — and don’t just let anybody walk into office for free, you know what I mean.”
Frasier likely to take District 2
[Updated noon Wednesday:
With all precincts reported, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners District 2 race looks like it will go to Justin Frasier, who received 50.7 percent, or 1,152 votes, compared to Linda Graham, who received 1,120 votes or 49.3 percent. Original content remains below.]
The District 2 special race to fill a vacant seat had much tighter numbers, with political newcomer Justin Frasier showing a 46-vote lead at 9:30 p.m. over former commissioner Linda Graham.
The district, almost entirely within Hinesville city limits, had 2,194 votes reported at press time and showed Frasier with 1,120, or 51.05 percent of votes and Graham with 1,074, or 48.95 percent.
Graham, who represented District 2 from 2000-2002, reacted to news that her opponent was ahead Tuesday night.
“I do know that the absentee ballots have not been counted, so I’m still hopeful, and I’m encouraged,” Graham said. “I’m just going to wait patiently for the good news.”
Frasier also reacted to the reports.
“Of course that’s good news to hear; I understand it’s unofficial,” Frasier said. “But I definitely appreciate all the support and all the votes and all the people who believe in me and cast their vote for me.”
“It’s still just a waiting game, and we’re just waiting to hear the official number,” he added.
Graham, who said before the race that she was the underdog, attributed the close results to her constituents.
“I think it’s evident that if people believe in you, they will support you,” Graham said. “I am very thankful for all of the support.”