Incumbents ruled the day in the local primary election held Tuesday, June 9.
All three incumbents in locally contested races up for grabs in the Republican and Democratic primaries defeated their opponents and many others walked back into their seats again uncontested.
Republican Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland won in landslide fashion, taking 4,599 votes, 83.5 percent, to challenger Tracy Mize’s 909 votes, 16.5 percent, according to preliminary results reported by the Hart County Board of Elections.
Cleveland said he felt great on Wednesday morning following Tuesday’s win.
“I feel a whole lot better than I did yesterday,” Cleveland said.
He thanked God, the voters and his family for the support and guidance through his campaign. He also thanked his staff for their service.
“I’ve got an excellent staff and I’m looking forward to the next four years,” Cleveland said. “We’re picking up today where we left off yesterday.”
Gangs and drugs will continue to be a target for the sheriff in law enforcement, he said.
Deputies have also already started community policing and de-escalation training in an effort to ensure they treat everyone fairly and equally, Cleveland said.
In the Republican race for the Hart County Board of Education District 5, incumbent Dennis Dowell took more than 80 percent of the vote as well, with 824 ballots cast in his favor compared to challenger Alan Hill, who netted 199 votes, or 19.45 percent.
“I feel fortunate,” Dowell said Wednesday morning. “I want to thank all the people who voted in this election for having confidence in me for another term.”
Dowell said he and the rest of the board work well together and he looks forward to another four years ensuring the best education possible for Hart County children.
“I’m proud to be able to serve on the board with the other members and to work with our superintendent,” Dowell said.
On the Democratic side, Lonnie Robinson will remain the District 1 representative on the board after he defeated challenger Brenda Jordan with 306 votes, or 67.55 percent, to Jordan’s 147, 32.45 percent.
“I am totally humbled that the community would allow me to serve and to continue to see our kids are educated in a healthy atmosphere,” Robinson said.
He said he and the board must now focus on the tough decisions that will have to be made about the budget in the face of pandemic-prompted state cuts.
With the primary election complete, some local candidates now are looking toward November when they will face competition.
Republican incumbent tax commissioner Karen Martin will face opposition from Democrat Brad Goss.
Incumbent R.C. Oglesby, who is currently facing a Superior Court indictment, qualified as an independent this year and will face independent James Fulghum, Republican Michael Bennett and Democrat David Cook in November for the District 1 Hart County Board of Commissioners seat.
Hart County Elections Coordinator Robin Webb said more than 3,100 absentee ballots were cast in the primary, far exceeding the roughly 600-700 normally received. While the long-wait problems seen in some metro areas did not occur here, election officials said there were many people who requested absentee ballots but came to vote in person instead.
Preliminary numbers show more than 7,000 of the 16,000 registered voters cast ballots in the election.