Long County’s general election formally answered the question of who will sit on the county commission and the board of education. Despite all of the offices having already been decided, the required election took place Tuesday, ending a 10-month saga over who will lead Long County into the future.
The original election took place July 31, 2012, and six new leaders appeared to win seats. But less than a month later, on Aug. 27, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division overturned those results, saying the recently redistricted county did not meet the guidelines of the Voting Rights Act. As a result of the ruling, the election’s results were ruled invalid.
The county commission and the board of education then filed suit against the Long County Board of Elections, and the case went before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The court ruled that the district lines would have to be redrawn and a new election held. Once the new district lines were redrawn and approved by the court and the new general election date was set, several new candidates threw their hats into the ring, challenging all but one incumbent, Florence Baggs, who represents District 3 board of education.
Nine of the seats were decided after the March 12 general primary, but a runoff was necessary in the District 3 commission race between Willie Thompson and Andy Fuller. Thompson won the runoff.
With Thompson’s victory, the commission now will be represented by Gerald Blocker in District 1, Robert Long in District 2, Thompson in District 3, Kent Hall in District 4 and Dwight Gordon in District 5. For the board of education, Marcus DeLoach will represent District 1, Dr. Carolyn Williamson in District 2, Baggs in District 3, Janet Watford in District 4 and Julie Norman Dawson in District 5. The unchallenged Baggs was the only incumbent to retain a seat.
According to board of elections Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham, Tuesday’s election will be certified sometime next week after the final results are approved by the state. Once this takes place, the winners of the election will be sworn into office.