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Gaines elected District 2 Commissioner
Record-breaking voter turnout in Georgia, Dawson
A-Gaines wins mug
Chris Gaines

Former city councilman Chris Gaines has been elected Dawson County District 2 Commissioner.

His term will begin Jan. 1.

Gaines beat out Independent candidate Robert Wiley for the spot, taking 76.59 percent of Dawson County's vote to Wiley's 23.41 percent.

Gaines, 39, served on the city council for three years, and currently works as a commercial insurance agent with PointeNorth Insurance Group.

Gaines said that he wants to thank voters for their confidence in him.

"I have a passion for serving others and will strive to work hard to ensure I am serving Dawson County to the very best of my abilities," he said.

One of the top priorities Gaines hopes to address while on the board is internet connectivity in Dawson County.

"As many people know I have already begun working on this critical issue which affects almost every citizen and business," he said. "We need options that can deliver high quality connections and exceptional customer service. I am confident that a solution is close and will benefit all of Dawson County."

Gaines said he wants to see the board work together to achieve goals that the community wants to see.

"I want to be a stable, consistent and factually based decision maker that represents the citizens of this great community," he said. "I will invest the time, energy and effort to research and gather citizen feedback for decisions, and I believe in a bottom-up structure where we listen and engage county employees to gain their perspective as well."

Wiley, a retired army engineer and JROTC instructor at Dawson County High School, said he was disappointed with the results but appreciated everyone's support.

The District 2 seat is currently held by two-term commissioner James Swafford, who did not seek re-election. Swafford had some advice for Gaines as he prepares to take the seat.

"He's met with me a couple of times, and my advice to him has been to watch the budget and not let it get out of hand," Swafford said. "Also quality control of growth and maintaining long range plans is important. I'd advise the commission not to bring in just any business and to be mindful of pollution and things of that nature. We have a plan to preserve the northern part of the county and the beauty that is there, and we need to stick to it."

Swafford said he is ready to have more time to himself and spend more time with his family.

"I've enjoyed the eight years I've been on the commission, but it's time to do something else," Swafford said.

Outgoing Commission Chair Mike Berg said he is hopeful for the future of Dawson County and the perspective that Gaines will bring to the commission.

"I'm very glad he won, I like the idea of a younger person on the board," Berg said. "He's a business person and I feel like his perspective will be good for the board. They need people who have a vision for the future."

Gaines will join the also newly elected Chairman Billy Thurmond, re-elected District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix, District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett and District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby.

Both Fausett and Hamby's current terms will end on Dec. 31, 2018.

Though Gaines was part of the only contested local election on the ballot, many state and national seats were filled.

Donald Trump won the national presidential election with 279 electoral votes to Clinton's 228.

Trump won the state with 51.1 percent of the popular vote, and Dawson County with 84.59 percent of the vote.

State voters elected Incumbent Johnny Isakson (R) for United States Senator with 54.85 percent of the votes going to him. Dawson County also selected Isakson with 83.12 percent of the vote.

Tim Echols was elected as Georgia Public Service District 2 Commissioner with 66.62 percent of the vote. Dawson County also selected Echols with 85.42 percent of the vote to Eric Hoskins' 14.58 percent.

State voters said no to amendment one with 59.94 percent of the vote, yes to amendment two with 83.3 percent of the vote, yes to amendment three with 62.49 percent of the vote and yes to amendment four with 81.18 percent of the vote. Dawson County votes closely aligned with state numbers.

Dawson County and state voters also made history this election with the highest voter turnouts ever.

Of 14,591 registered voters in Dawson County, 11,860 cast ballots, leading to a 81.28 percent voter turnout- the highest it's ever been, according to Glenda Ferguson, Dawson County Board of Elections chairwoman and election supervisor.

According to Ferguson, in 2012 the voter turnout was 77.6 percent, and in 2008 it was 76.02 percent.

According to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Georgia surpassed the 2008 record of 3.9 million votes with over 4 million votes counted.

According to Kemp, Georgia had 5,445,078 active registered voters on Election Day and at least 4,045,613 votes cast, making Georgia voter turnout greater than 74 percent.