Decision 2018 Results: Voters pick November candidates, force runoffs

Decision 2018 Results: Voters pick November candidates, force runoffs

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia voters went to the polls Tuesday to pick candidates for November's elections, and a summer runoff in the GOP for the state's highest office.

Some of the most contested local races included Dougherty County's Ward 2 Commission seat and Board of Education District 2.

Two candidates sought the Democrat nomination for governor; the Republican side had five in the running.

Stacey Abrams has won the Democratic primary in Georgia's gubernatorial race. She is the state's first woman nominee for governor from either major party, and if she wins the general election in November, she'll become the first black female governor in the U.S.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp will face a July 24 runoff for the GOP nomination for Georgia governor. Cagle and Kemp beat three GOP rivals in a race characterized by strong support for gun rights and tough talk on immigration. But no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote as required to win the nomination outright.

Voters also cast ballots for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and insurance commissioner. Five of the state's incumbent congressmen had primary challengers from within their own parties.

Dougherty County election coverage

Mount Zion Baptist Church in Albany was where some of the most contested local races including Dougherty County's Ward 2 Commission seat and the Board of Education District 2 were voted on.

The church is where the largest number of people are registered for the District 2 precinct.

District 2 County Commissioner John Hayes currently holds the seat and is running for re-election. Sherrell Byrd and Victor  Edwards are all running against him.

A fourth candidate, Joyce Jordan, withdrew earlier from the race due to health conditions and is now working with the Byrd campaign.

Hayes received 36 percent of the vote while Edwards received 39 percent, and Byrd received 22 percent of the vote.

Hayes and Edwards will face a runoff July 24.

Heading into election night, Byrd said she's very confident and is ready to relax and let the results come in, hoping to make history.

"I just recently found out that there has never been a woman to hold the seat of District 2 county commissioner so all the voters could be helping make history tonight," said Byrd.

"I'm feeling really good. I've received a lot of good response from the community, and they are all for taking chances," said Edwards.

WALB reached out to Hayes for an interview and he said he was around town at the polls trying to reach voters and was unavailable for an interview.

As for the school board seat, Milton "June Bug" Griffin received 59 percent of the vote, while his challengers Kenneth Florence received 16 percent and Debra Wiley received 25 percent.

WALB has also been following the race for the State Representative in District 153, which covers Dougherty County.

There were two Democratic candidates running for the position in the primary election.

Incumbent Darrel Ealum has held the seat since 2015.

Ealum was defeated by challenger Camia Hopson who received 51 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout

By the afternoon hours on Tuesday at Greenbriar Church in Albany, more than 300 voters had cast their ballots.

Organizers at the precinct said they think that morning rain put a damper on voter turn out and is a reason it wasn't higher.

But some voters still showed up to do their civic duty.

At one point, precinct organizers said they were averaging 50 people per hour.

Jerry Pickett is one of those who voted on Tuesday. He said he wants a strong governor to lead Georgia.

As for local leaders, Pickett hopes for leaders who know the economic issues Southwest Georgia faces.

"Well, voting for the local people means who's going to control your local economy," explained Pickett, "It at least gives you an opportunity to at least be part of your government. And if you don't use that opportunity, then you can't complain about what the government does."

With the low voter turnout, many in Dougherty County are curious to see how the District 2 Commission seat race will go.

Covering Lee County

In Lee County, voter turnout was even lower than Dougherty County Tuesday morning.

In the most recent count, Lee County election officials reported only 12-percent of registered voters have cast a ballot.

That was a slight improvement over the noon count which had a weak turnout of 8-percent of voters.

Lee County's Election Supervisor Veronica Johnson said that turnout in the 2014 primary, also a gubernatorial year, was 21-percent.

Johnson believes a big reason might be the consistent stormy weather throughout the day in the area.

"We encourage them to come. Dodge the rain showers, grab your rain umbrella or whatever. We are here and ready for you to come." said Johnson.

Lowndes County elections

Hundreds of Lowndes County residents had already taken to the polls by Tuesday afternoon.

At Precinct 3, a heavy and steady amount of voters poured in to cast their votes.

There were a handful of people who voted that expressed their concerns about the community and said they hope to see some changes in Lowndes County once the votes are counted.

Community members were very vocal about the need for more jobs and trusting the individuals who will be elected to office.

"It will affect us a whole lot better when we get the right people in there to help us, our community, yeah, because so far we haven't had that. We vote for someone we think they are going to help us and they don't," said Lowndes County resident Mary porter.

"Anything that's local affects you daily, in your daily business, in your family, so it's really important to vote in the local races," said Assistant Supervisor of Elections Tiffany Linkswiler.

In Lowndes County, Eric Johnson, JR Rogers and Walter Byrd are on the ballot for the District 2 school board seat.

Johnson received 66 percent of the vote, while Rogers received 20 percent and Byrd received 15 percent.

Brian K. Browning faced Erin Price for the District 3 school board seat. And Michael Davis is running unopposed for District 1 school board seat.

Browning, the incumbent, got 54 percent of the vote.

Each board member serves a four-year term and determines how education is taught across the county school system.

Another closely watched race is the 175th District State Representative seat. Incumbent John LaHood was elected only six months ago after Amy Carter resigned before her term expired, to work for the Georgia Technical College System. Also running for the seat is Republican Coy Reaves and Democrat Treva Gear.

LaHood received 85 percent of the vote, while Reaves got 15 percent.

Tifton election coverage

There are four county commission positions on the ballot in Tift County.

District 2 County Commissioner Mellissa Hughes said if there are changes to the current commissioners, she hopes they will be assets to the county's development.

Hughes said it's all about the people who voted on Tuesday and who they want to see run their district.

Hughes said new commissioners and those re-elected should focus on improving the relationship between the city and the county.

"From listening to the platforms of those that are running, and if there is a possibility of change, I think the communication with the city and the county will be back on track," said Tift County Commissioner Melissa Hughes.

Hughes said that if there are changes she is excited to collaborate on new ideas and ways to make Tifton and Tift County a better place.

Getting the results

Now that the polls are closed, you can follow WALB News 10 for up-to-date Decision 2018 results on air, and in your WALB News 10 app.

If one candidate does not receive a majority of the votes, the top two will go into a runoff election.

After you vote, send us a photo of you and your "I voted" sticker! Send it to us on Facebook or email it to

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