The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum proved to be the race to watch Tuesday night, as Liberty County voters nearly were split down the middle on whether or not the 1 percent sales tax would see another six-year term in the county.
With all precincts reporting, 49.49 percent of voters said “yes” while 50.51 percent voted “no” to the referendum — a 90-vote difference.
Area resident Ken Chipple said he voted to approve SPLOST because he sees it as a way to help develop the county’s infrastructure, which he believes will attract more business to the area.
“It takes money to make money,” Chipple said.
Hinesville residents Taikha Gilyard and Lonnie Fayson were split on the issue. Gilyard said she voted against SPLOST because she wasn’t sure what good it was doing Liberty County.
“I’ve been here for quite some time, and so I don’t know what they’re doing with the 1 percent,” she said. “What are they doing with this money? I don’t see it.”
Fayson, on the other hand, said he voted to “keep it the same.”
“That 1 percent is going to increase revenue,” he said. “If you stop it, it’s going to decrease money coming into the city … It’s going to bring more industry here in Hinesville.”
Gilyard, originally from Panama, said she decided to give up her Panamanian citizenship for U.S. citizenship in 2011 because she wanted to be able to vote.
“A lot of people died for the right for us to vote, so why not exercise (that right)?” Gilyard said. “I always used to tell my friends, even when I couldn’t vote, ‘Go vote.’”
“If you don’t exercise your right to vote, you can’t complain,” Fayson added.
In statewide races, Liberty County bucked state trends, with almost every Democratic candidate leading their respective races. With 12 of 13 precincts reported, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn was leading her Republican opponent, David Perdue, holding 62.05 percent of Liberty County’s vote to Perdue’s 36.39 percent.
Statewide, Perdue was leading Nunn with 58.09 percent to Nunn’s 40.10 percent at press time.
In the race for the governor’s seat, incumbent Nathan Deal was ahead of Democratic candidate Jason Carter statewide, 57.52 percent to 40.26 percent.
In Liberty County, Carter held 60.41 percent of the vote to Deal’s 37.67 percent.
In the race for the 1st Congressional District’s representative seat, Republican candidate Buddy Carter overall was ahead of his Democratic opponent, Brian Reese, with 67.26 percent of the vote to Reese’s 32.74 percent. Liberty County voters, however, favored Reese. At press time, Reese was ahead of Carter with 58.9 percent of the vote to Carter’s 41.1 percent.
“So far, we feel real good. The numbers are certainly trending our way. If everything continues on course, I think we’ll be OK,” Carter said from his watch party around 8:30 p.m. in Savannah.
Two polling locations in Hinesville reported slow but steady voter turnout. By noon, the Shuman Recreation Center had seen about 125 voters, according to LaFayne May, poll manager for the 2nd voting precinct.
“We had about 10 people lined up waiting for us to open this morning,” May said. “It’s been very, very slow since then, but they’re steadily trickling in.”
At the First Baptist Church on Memorial Drive, Beverly Gross said the turnout was “better than she expected.” The 12th voting precinct poll manager estimated roughly 100 voters had shown up by 12:30 p.m., which she said was a “good turnout for midterms.”
“It’s been steady all day,” Gross said. “I expect if we have a rush, it will be later, probably between 5 and