Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Catoosa County’s registered voters will return to the polls on or before Aug. 21 to choose their first new sheriff in more than two decades and bring primary election campaigning to a close.
A runoff for the office of sheriff was practically guaranteed when five candidates — Larry Black, Mike Helton, Jeff Holcomb, Ben Scott and Gary Sisk — qualified for inclusion on the GOP primary ballot.
The two who collected the most votes — Black with about 43.5 percent of total votes and Sisk with about 22.4 percent — will be the only local candidates in the runoff.
Mark Cruise, who entertained the idea of seeking the sheriff’s office as an Independent candidate, failed to qualify by last Friday’s noon deadline.
Candidates must garner at least 50 percent plus one vote of all votes cast in a particular race before they can be declared a winner.
A runoff in the chief magistrate race was narrowly avoided when incumbent Johnny Gass won re-election by gaining 50.91 percent of votes cast in a three-way race with James Ellis, who collected 18.9 percent of the votes, and Brad Palmer, who was chosen on 30.2 percent of ballots cast.
In another close race, though Doug Woodruff was a winner in both Catoosa and Walker counties, his bid to become district attorney for the four-county Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District was unsuccessful.
Herbert “Buzz” Franklin won re-election by a total of 44 votes — 10,973 to 10,929 — in the circuit that also includes Chattooga and Dade counties.
Woodruff carried Catoosa by a margin of 4,519 votes to the incumbent’s 3,616 votes. In Walker, 5,180 votes were cast for Woodruff while 4,836 voters chose Franklin.
Franklin prevailed in Chattooga 373 to 218, and in Dade, where he gained 2,148 votes compared to Woodruff’s 1,012 votes.
The runoff election between the two candidates for sheriff will be held Aug. 21, but early voting will begin sooner, according to election official Tonya Moore.
“We are not required to have a set number of days for advance voting before a runoff,” she said. “We hope early voting will start on Aug.13. It could be a few days later, but we will definitely have both early voting precincts open Aug. 15-17.”
Early/advance voting can be done at either the Ringgold Precinct at Catoosa Hall adjacent the county courthouse, or the Westside Precinct on Lakeview Drive adjacent Westside Elementary School.
Voting in advance of Election Day proved popular this year, Moore said.
Of the county’s 40,605 registered voters, roughly 23 percent participated in last week’s primary election, she said.
Slightly more than one-third — 3,156 — of the total 9,403 votes were cast early, Moore said.
And 584 of those 3,156 early votes were cast at the Westside Precinct, the first time it has been open for early voting.
When asked how much the runoff might cost taxpayers, Moore said the amount “should be minimal.”