Though it's possible to read too much into the results of one election, a pretty clear, and in some respects surprising, message has emerged from the Nov. 7 General Election.
That message? While there are plenty of people who will disagree, for the most part the citizens are happy with the way Columbia County is being run.
-- While there are frequent - and generally unfocused or empty - calls for "change" in Columbia County's public schools, voters in District 2 overwhelmingly sent incumbent Mildred "Mickie" Blackburn back to her seat.
When voters complain that the school board is a "rubber stamp" for the school system administration, Blackburn is the image of that unquestioning approval. Yet she was re-elected with nearly 80 percent of the vote.
-- In the race for school board chairman, the nay-sayers thought Regina Buccafusco would come in dead last in the three-way race. Instead, she ran a strong second, and will be in a runoff Dec. 5 with former Board member Lee Muns.
-- There also was a gauge of the sentiment for "change" in the county government in the District 1 County Commission race. Unlike the School Board posts, this race was partisan, so the county's prediliction for voting Republican has to be taken into account.
Still, Democrat Scott Nichols beat the drums loudly for upsetting the status quo - demanding impact fees, criticizing the county's handling of growth and basing his campaign slogan on a call for change.
Yet Nichols was barely a speed bump to the election of Republican Ron Thigpen, an insider's insider who received 75 percent of the vote in a ringing endorsement of county government.
-- Perhaps most revealing of the mood of the county's citizens was the outcome of the four bond referendums. In spite of pointed and sometimes ugly debate in hearings at which the projects were discussed, the public easily passed all four parts of the bond.
The margin of victory ranged from 14 percent for the recreation bond, to 34 percent for transportation bonds. In election analysis, a 10 percent margin is considered the threshold for a "landslide" - so passage of these bonds is a huge stamp of approval for the county officials who put the proposals together.
"I think it's just indicative of the fact that the majority of Columbia County looks after what's best for the county and doesn't pay any attention to the small group of negative people," said County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, himself re-elected without opposition.
The lesson in all this? It's easy to grumble and criticize. But Columbia County's voters - who turned out in far higher numbers than expected, by the way - recognize that while nothing is perfect, their county generally is well-run. And they want to keep it that way.
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