24-year law enforcement veteran gets 998 more votes than incumbent in sheriff's race

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It was a night for challengers to shine. And no smiles were brighter than those inside the Cosmic Cafe, where Republican sheriff candidate Macon Davis and his supporters had their watch party on Tuesday night.

“We are thrilled,” said Davis, who has 24 years in local law enforcement. “I am humbled by all of the people that showed up to vote for me.”

Davis, a political newcomer, outpolled three-term incumbent Sheriff Alex Hodge and almost beat him outright in the Jones County Republican primary. He was 235 votes short of getting over the 50 percent threshold to win the Republican nomination, getting 6,836 votes (48.33 percent) to Hodge’s 5,838 (41.28 percent). Republican challenger Paul Sumrall got a little over 9 percent of the votes, with 1,275, and 194 voters had write-in candidates.

“We need your help,” Hodge said on a Facebook Live talk about the election Wednesday morning. “We need you to go to the polls on Aug. 27. We need your vote.”

Davis and Hodge will meet in the Republican runoff on Aug. 27, and there will be plenty of other races on that ballot.

Four of the five supervisor races are going to a runoff, and three of those are on the Republican ticket.

In Beat 1, four-term incumbent Johnny Burnett outpolled all five challengers, but he wound up with 45 percent of the votes (1,089). He will face former school board member Harlon Mathews, who got 24 percent of the votes (587). The winner will face Independent Bobby Brady Jr. in November.

In Beat 2, former Sheriff Larry Dykes (29.37 percent, 1,062 votes) and Richy Seals (23.17 percent, 838 votes) made it to the runoff as six Republican candidates battled for the seat of five-time incumbent Danny Roy Spradley, who didn’t seek re-election. The winner will face Independent Ronnie Herrington in November.

In Beat 3, challenger Phil Dickerson (38.71 percent, 1,568 votes) picked up more votes than four-term incumbent Barry Saul (34.14 percent, 1,383) in a field of five. The winner will face Independent Donald Dale Holifield in November.

In Beat 4, incumbent Supervisor David Scruggs won big with 60 percent (2,167 votes) over his former boss and longtime supervisor Andy Dial, who Scruggs unseated four years ago. Scruggs still has to face Independents Bobby Barber and Michael James in the general election in November.

In the Beat 5 supervisor race, Laurel Councilmen George Carmichael and Travares Comegys made it to the runoff from a field of four candidates. Carmichael got 783 votes (37.88 percent) and Comegys got 717 votes (34.69 percent) in the race for the seat that has long been held by Jerome Wyatt, who did not seek re-election. The winner will face Independent Chris Holifield in November.

The District 1 Justice Court race is also going to a runoff between attorneys Grant Hedgepeth (44.24 percent, 2,068 votes) and Noel Rogers (1,120 votes, 23.96 percent). Rogers made the runoff after edging Sonny Saul (1,088 votes, 23.28 percent) by 32 votes in the race to replace Howell Beech, who did not seek re-election. The winner will face Democrat Marian Allen and Independent Larry Blakeney in November.

District 3 Justice Court Judge David Lyons won his eighth term with 71.53 percent of the votes (3,716) to beat challenger and deputy clerk Stacy Walls (1,308 votes, 25.18 percent).

Former deputy Danny Gibson unseated incumbent District 2 Constable Larry Strickland with 59 percent of the vote, 2,383 to 1,649. He will face Democrat Le’Byron O. Jackson in November.

Incumbent Constables Mike Sumrall (District 1) and David Livingston (District 3) easily won their primaries, with 84 percent and 79 percent of the vote, respectively, to go back into office. They have no other challengers.

Two newcomers won countywide races outright in the Republican primary. Burl Hall will be the county’s new coroner, after serving for years as deputy coroner under Nancy Barnett, who did not run for re-election. He got 57 percent of the votes in a three-way race with Phyllis Pitts (27 percent) and Zach Rowell (16 percent).

 Tina Byrd will be the county’s new tax assessor/collector after getting 69 percent of the votes over challenger Michael Walker. Byrd has served for years in the office under Ramona Blackledge, who was one of the big surprises of the night in local legislative races.

Blackledge got almost 47 percent of the vote (3,304) over five-term incumbent Gary Staples (34.34 percent, 2,416 votes) and Chris Hodge (18.68 percent, 1,314 votes) in Jones County. 

“Everything went vey smooth,” Circuit Clerk Concetta Brooks said at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, after all of the cast and absentee votes had been counted. “There were very few minor issues.”

She was, however, disappointed by the low turnout — 18,178 of the county’s more than 43,000 registered voters participated in the election.

“Apathy is what it appears to be,” she said.

There won’t be any apathy in the Davis camp, he said.

“We’re going to be very busy over the next three weeks,” Davis said. “We need everyone to stay involved. I hope the momentum continues in this movement to bring change and it will keep everyone motivated.”

The winner of the runoff between Davis and Hodge will face Independent Joe Berlin in November.

 

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