The Liberty County Board of Elections and Voter Registration will conduct a runoff election Dec. 6 for Walthourville City Council Post 3, according to city clerk Juanita Johnson. She said results from Tuesday’s election did not give a clear majority — 50 percent or more — to one candidate among the four running for that office. The runoff is between Sarah “Betty” Hayes and Lillie R. “Readie” Kelly, she said.
Hayes received 122 votes, or 31.53 percent, to Kelly’s 99 votes, or 25.58 percent, with Mazie Fabain receiving 93 votes and Patrick Cochran receiving 73 votes.
“Of course, none of Tuesday’s election results can be certified until Monday when we receive the military (absentee) ballots,” Johnson explained. “Our city charter says that the candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast wins, but in post 3, there was not a clear majority, so we will have a runoff (election) on Dec. 6 between Ms. Hayes and Ms. Kelly.”
Another close race in Walthourville was in City Council Post 5, where incumbent James Hendry garnered 197 votes to Jane Chatman’s 194 votes. Because of the close vote — 50.38 percent to 49.62 percent — Johnson said Chatman could ask for a recount but hadn’t done so by Thursday morning.
Mayor Daisy S. Pray kept her office with 256 votes to challenger Larry Baker’s 153 votes. City Council Post 1 incumbent Patricia Green ran unopposed. City Council Post 2 went to incumbent Charlie L. Anderson, who received 210 votes to Carrie Kent Anderson’s 178 votes. City Council Post 4 incumbent Luciria Lovette kept her seat with 232 votes. Tommy McCaskill Sr. received 44 votes, and Patricia Palmer received 105 votes.
Being unopposed, Riceboro Mayor William Austin will stay in his office. He received 127 votes. Incumbent city council member John Young kept his seat with 134 votes, as did incumbent council members David Miller, who received 122 votes; Christopher Stacy, who received 131 votes; and Tommy Williams Sr., who also received 131 votes. Challenger Amelia Alta Smith received 16 votes.
“This was a grand election,” said Ella Golden, elections supervisor with the Liberty County Board of Elections and Voter Registration. “A lot of people came out and called. There was a lot of interest in this election.”
Some of those who voted in Hinesville’s election were asked for their reactions to the election results during breakfast at McDonald’s two days after the vote.
“I think Ms. (Hannah) Williams-Donegan should have gotten more votes,” Hinesville resident Thomas Sharpe said. “She’s a very nice lady, and I supported her. I’m satisfied with the results for mayor though.”
“My choices were severely limited,” explained Sampie Smith, a retired Hinesville resident who expressed great dissatisfaction with the election results. “My choices included a friend and a former student, whom I didn’t think had much of a chance to win, and an incumbent who’d already proven he didn’t understand finances.”
Despite Hinesville’s hotly contested District 5 race, the board of elections had not received any challenges to Kenneth Shaw’s re-election by Thursday morning.
“First of all, let me say I thank God for getting me through this election,” Shaw said. “Overall, I’d say most of my opponents ran a good race. I think I did a good job, and the people knew that and voted to re-elect me. I want to thank the people for their great feedback and let them know I’ll continue to work for the people of District 5 and the city of Hinesville.”
Mayor Jim Thomas reiterated his election-night statement of gratitude to voters for having confidence in him and for restoring all five city council members, which will allow them to continue their plans for Hinesville.
“We’ll continue to mark growth and development in our city,” Thomas said. “One top project we’re looking at is a Hinesville campus for Armstrong Atlantic State University. This has been an ongoing project for two or three years, but with our current economic downturn, Dr. (Linda) Bleichen, the university president, has taken another look at this project and now sees where there is a need for a four-year college in Hinesville.”
Thomas said the new campus, which is slated to be built on Memorial Drive, would be a collaborative effort between Armstrong Atlantic and the Georgia Board of Regents. Among other initiatives, he plans to help create jobs in the community. The mayor said job skills particularly are important and a four-year college would help provide those skills.