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Hinesvilles leaders keep offices
Thomas, incumbents defeat competition
web 1109 Thomas wins
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and his wife, Claudia, react to the news that Thomas was re-elected Tuesday. Thomas and his supporters celebrated at the Econo Lodge in Hinesville. - photo by Marguerite West

The results of Tuesday’s election yielded few surprises with Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas holding onto his office. District 2 Councilman Jason Floyd and District 3 Councilman David Anderson, who ran unopposed, also retained their offices.

The city council position for District 1 went to incumbent Charles Frasier with 187 votes. Challenger Diana F. Reid received 161 votes.

The city council positions for Districts 4 and 5 have been surrounded by controversy due to Hinesville’s recently approved new districting plan. Also, because Douglas Burgess Jr., a former candidate for District 4, previously was ruled ineligible due to residency requirements, Keith Jenkins essentially ran unopposed, even though Burgess was on the ballot due to his pending appeal to the Georgia Superior Court. Signs were posted at the polling station advising voters of Burgess’ ineligible status.

District 5 was won by incumbent Kenneth Shaw with 203 votes. John A. Spradley received 79 votes, Hannah Williams-Donegan received 56 votes and Angela Wilson received 49 votes.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and voting was steady throughout the day, according to LaFayne H. May, poll manager at the Shuman Center in Hinesville. May said 473 people had voted by 2 p.m.

“Of course, Fort Stewart hasn’t gotten out yet,” she added, noting that soldiers, military civilians, contractors and family members working on post and living in Hinesville probably would start coming in after 5 p.m. “I think we’ve had a pretty good day. Most of the folks I work with here I’ve worked with before and that makes it a lot easier.”

May said she didn’t think there had been many problems or confusion with Hinesville’s redistricting plan. She said a few people had said they were not sure whether they were supposed to vote in District 4 or District 5 but that signs around the polling station gave them the right information, and those who still had questions were able to get help from polling station workers.

Several people who had taken advantage of early voting were supporting their candidates by holding signs and talking to voters beneath tents and small canopies in the parking lot outside the Shuman Center.

Claudia Thomas, wife of Mayor Jim Thomas, said she would like to have seen more information put out about the polling station location at the Shuman Center as opposed to the National Guard Armory. She suggested billboards be placed around town for next year’s election, advising voters where to vote. Charli Shearer of the Kirk Healing Center suggested better use of the Internet by the city and county governments to get word out about next year’s election.

Linda Dunivin, Jill Anderson and Judy Shippey said they preferred the convenience of early voting to waiting for Election Day. Shippey, who said she had supported a District 5 candidate only to find out she wasn’t in District 5 anymore, related a story of election mischief.

“I had five signs in my yard supporting Mayor Thomas,” she explained. “One by one, they’ve all just disappeared.  I called the city and they said no one had come and taken them. I don’t know what happened to them or who would want to take them out of my yard.”

Celebrating with supporters at the Econo Lodge, Mayor Jim Thomas said that winning the election was a great feeling.

“It’s a pleasure that people have that kind of confidence in me,” he said. “I feel good.”

Thomas added that it is a relief to have the election process complete, with the current city council intact.

“That way we’re not on edge, and we can go ahead with our plans for the city,” he said.

Look for results for Walthourville and Riceboro’s elections, along with remarks by winning candidates, in Friday’s Coastal Courier.

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