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Tax commissioner, sheriff's races head to run-off
Thurmond, Gaines, Nix win commission posts
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Billy Thurmond, Chris Gaines and Julie Hughes Nix won their respective commission posts in Tuesday's primary election, while the tax commissioner and sheriff's races are headed to run-offs in July.

There was a lower than expected voter turnout for the primary with less than 34 percent of the county's 13,246 registered voters coming out to the polls on Election Day and during the early voting period.

As expected there will be run-offs for the sheriff and tax commissioner races, which fielded four candidates each.

A candidate would have needed to collect 50 percent plus one vote to be considered the outright winner and avoid run-off.

In the sheriff's race, Capt. Tony Wooten and Maj. Jeff Johnson garnered the top two spots, while Andi Henson Juliette and Nicole Stewart were the top two candidates in the tax commissioner race.

Retired emergency services director easily claims chairman's post

Billy Thurmond claimed a landslide victory over Peter Hill in the county's race to the be the next commission chairman.

Thurmond, 56, who retired as director of Dawson County Emergency Services last year, collected more than 75 percent of the overall vote.

"I just want to thank all of the people who supported me and helped me in my campaign and all the hard work that they put in. I look forward to working for the citizens of Dawson County," he said.

With 37 years of Dawson County government experience, Thurmond, ran on a campaign platform that promises proactive leadership and planning.

Hill, a local architect who also serves on the Development Authority of Dawson County, won nearly 25 percent of the votes.

Three-term Commission Chairman Mike Berg is retiring at the end of December.

Gaines wins District 2 commission seat

The race for the District 2 Commission seat was too close to call up until the very end when Chris Gaines, former Dawsonville City Councilman, edged out Tim Davis, a political newcomer who billed himself as the hometown candidate.

Gaines, 39, garnered 51.16 percent of the votes over Davis' 48.84 percent.

"I appreciate everybody that voted for me, and I appreciate everybody's support and the trust that they placed in me to help lead the community toward the future," Gaines said.

At least one independent candidate, Robert Wiley, senior army instructor for Dawson County High School's JROTC program, has announced he plans to run for the District 2 Commission seat.

In that event, the District 2 race will be decided Nov 8.

For an independent candidate's name to appear on the ballot, the candidate must collect signatures from 5 percent of the total number of registered eligible voters in the last election for their respective office.

Independent candidate qualifying will be held June 27-July 1.

The District 2 seat is currently held by James Swafford, who did not seek a third term in office.

Incumbent wins again

Incumbent Julie Hughes Nix has won another term.

"I appreciate you placing your confidence in me again," Nix said Tuesday after all the precincts reported. "I will strive to continue to serve Dawson County with integrity."

Nix, 65, defeated political newcomer Heather Huslebus to win a fifth term in the county commission race for District 4 with 63.10 percent of the vote. Nix received 2,556 votes.

Hulsebus received 1,495 votes or 36.90 percent of the 4,051 votes cast.

Nix is a lifelong resident of Dawsonville and this December will mark 16 years on the board of commissioners for Nix.

A retired school teacher, Nix was the first female commissioner ever for Dawson County when she was elected in 1996.

"I want to thank all of the people who worked so hard on my behalf," she said.

Hulsebus is a patient service specialist who has lived in Dawson County for 16 years.

She served as a Dawson County Republican delegate to the 9th District Convention. She is currently the president of Foothills Republican Women.

Sheriff's race heads to run-off with Wooten, Johnson

It's been nearly 20 years since Dawson County elected a new sheriff and residents are going to have to wait another two months to see who will succeed Billy Carlisle, whose held the post for five terms.

In Tuesday's primary election, Capt. Tony Wooten, 38, and Maj. Jeff Johnson, 45, were the two top vote-getters in the race for sheriff over Jeff Perry, a retired parole chief, and Frank Sosebee, who works in Hall County prison corrections.

Wooten won nearly 36 percent of the vote to Johnson's 27 percent.

Wooten applauded his opponents and called the campaign a clean race by all.

"The other candidates did a good job of competing. It was a good clean race between good candidates," he said. "When you have four candidates that are all qualified like we were, it's a difficult thing to do without a run-off.

"We were optimistic that we wouldn't need a run-off but we were realistic that it was possible. I'm thankful to be where I'm at tonight."

Johnson, commander of the Dawson County Detention Center, thanked his supporters and asked for their prayers as the campaign to win the run-off begins.

"Thank you to all who placed their trust and their confidence in me to serve as your sheriff," he said. "It is such an honor to be supported by our community. I ask for continued prayer and support as we head into the run-off.

"I truly desire to serve our people in a greater capacity."

The race for the July 26 run-off starts tomorrow.

"We'll go back to work starting tomorrow and try to win the run-off," Wooten said. "I want to thank my supporters."

Perry followed in the third spot with 24 percent and Sosebee rounded out with more than 12 percent of the vote.

Race for tax commissioner heads to July run off

Andi Henson Juliette and Nicole Stewart will go head-to-head on July 26 after Juliette received 1,212 votes or 29.42 percent, while Stewart garnered 1,025 votes, or 24.88 percent.

Also in the race were lifelong Dawson County resident Johnny Glass who had 983 votes representing 23.87 percent of the 4,119 votes for the office and Karin McKee who received 899 votes or 21.83 percent.

"We are just very excited, very thankful. I want to say thanks to my family and the supporters that worked so hard to spread my message and get out the votes," Juliette said. "We were anticipating a run-off and I am thankful to be in it.

"Hopefully I will be able to serve my friends and family and Dawson County."

Juliette, 40, has served as the general manager at an outlet store for the past six years.

She served as a congressional intern in the 9th District Congressional Office in Washington D.C. where she lived for four years. She has Top Secret security clearance.

Stewart, a local banker, was also pleased to have reached the expected run-off.

"I am very excited. I can't wait for the run-off," Stewart said. "I am getting with my team right now and we are working on an action plan."

Stewart, 32, is a licensed financial service specialist who has worked on local and state political campaigns in the past. She has also worked closely with the tax commissioner's office on title work.

Stewart is a lifelong Dawson County resident who is a Rotary member and has served on the Relay for Life Committee, as a READ board member and as a Bowen Center for the Arts board member, among others.

The winner of the July contest will take the place of Linda Townley who chose to not seek a fourth term.

Incumbents win state, federal seats

Ralston re-elected in District 7

David Ralston has won another term in the Georgia House of Representatives by defeating challenger Sam Snider.

Incumbent Ralston, 62, easily won with 70.02 percent of the vote on Tuesday. He received 334 votes while Snider got 143 or 29.98 percent.

Ralston, of Blue Ridge, served as a state senator from 1992 to 1998 and was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives for the first time in 2002. He has represented the district ever since.

He was also elected Speaker of the House in 2010.

Snider, 52, a retired teacher and pastor, is an Ellijay native. He ran for the same office during the 2014 election.

Gooch keeps District 51 seat

Incumbent Steve Gooch has defeated John Williamson in the race for state senator.

Gooch, 49, who has served as senator in the 51st district since 2011, won with 72.47 percent of the vote. He had 2,948 of the votes cast in the race.

Williamson, 74, is the co-creator of the Tea Party of Gilmer County. He earned 27.53 percent or 1,120 votes.

Gooch has lived in the district his entire life with family going back six generations in north Georgia. He has served as a commissioner in Lumpkin County and as chairman of the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners.

Williamson is a retired medical diagnostic and therapeutic equipment salesman.

Collins easily defeats challengers for U.S. Representative seat

In the race for the U.S. Representative, incumbent Doug Collins easily handled Paul Broun, Roger Fitzpatrick, Bernie Fontaine and Mike Scupin.

Collins took 66.08 percent of the vote in the five man race for the 9th congressional district. He garnered 2,675 votes in Dawson County.

The 49-year-old Collins has held the post since 2013.

He is a Gainesville native who served in the Georgia House of Representatives after being elected in 2006. He currently serves as a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and is vice-chair of its Subcommittee on Courts.

In his role as a member of the House Committee on Rules, Collins helps manage all legislation that comes through the House.

The next closest candidate was Broun at 18.5 percent or 749 votes locally.

Fitzpatrick had 7.81 percent at 316 votes; Scupin took 4.37 percent at 177 votes and Fontaine had 3.24 percent or 131 votes.