Ron Cross was re-elected. County consolidation had more opposition than support. And voter turnout was the lowest in many years for a primary.
All were results from Tuesday's primary in Columbia County, an election that also had a close race for a Grovetown city council seat that was recently left vacant by Marjorie Adams' death. In that race, Grovetown residents elected Richard A. "Dick" Manion by 10 votes with a total of 175 votes for Manion, 165 votes for Barry Davis and 160 votes for Sonny McDowell.
For the first time, the results of the election were displayed via a projector on a big screen in the county's new performing arts center in Evans. Cross, a Republican and four-year incumbent county commission chairman, was re-elected for another four years.
Cross defeated Republican challenger John Hayes, a political newcomer and insurance claims representative, by a vote of 3,849 to 2,661, or 59.12 percent to 40.88 percent, with all 45 precincts reporting.
"That's pretty good percentages in any political race, so we're happy with that and ready to move on,'' Cross said.
Because he has no Democratic or independent challengers, Cross now runs unopposed and headed to victory in the November general election.
"I congratulate Mr. Ron Cross for his election victory and I'd like to thank all the voters and all the support I received for this campaign,'' Hayes said Tuesday night.
Cross said he interprets a low voter turnout Tuesday to mean many voters were content with their representation and stayed home. The overall turnout was 15.95 percent of the county's 59,888 registered voters, said Debbie Marshall, the county's Board of Elections directors.
"That is low,'' said Marshall, who had earlier predicted a turnout of 20 to 25 percent. Marshall said she believes the low turnout was the result of few locally contested races.
For those who did turn out to vote for Hayes, Cross said he feels they did so out of opposition to consolidation in Columbia County.
Concerning consolidation, straw poll questions on both the Republican and Democratic ballots showed that more people are against the idea than support it.
On the Republican ballot, 4,125, or 63.48 percent, said they are against a consolidation excluding the cities of Harlem and Grovetown while 2,373, or 36.52 percent, were in support of such an idea.
On the Republican question of whether voters would favor consolidation of the county with Harlem and Grovetown, 4,426, or 68.26 percent, voted no while 2,058, or 31.74 percent voted yes.
On the Democratic ballot, 1,385, 59.62 percent, said they are opposed to consolidation while 938, 40.38 percent, were in support.
Another straw poll vote that had more opposition votes than support was one focusing on a proposed bond referendum by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. The proposed $40 million bond, which would be paid for with a one mill increase in the county's millage, would pay for capital improvement projects such as stormwater needs, road work and recreation enhancements.
On the Republican ballot, 3,302, or 55.64 percent, of voters were not in favor of the idea while 2,633, or 44.36 percent, were for it. On the Democratic ballot, 1,934, or 82.16 percent, said they are not in favor of a property tax increase to pay for the bond issue while 420, or 17.84 percent, said they would support such a move.
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