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Votes

Results certified, no more elections until March 2013

The 2012 election cycle has finally come to an end.

Provisional ballots were counted last Friday, Nov. 9, Georgia State Patrol troopers delivered results to Atlanta yesterday and state certification is expected shortly.

Election officials said 23,849 — 57.71 percent of Catoosa County’s 41,328 registered voters — cast ballots.

Of those, 12,658 voted in person in advance of the Nov. 6 election and 680 of the 765 requested mail-in absentee ballots were returned and the remaining 10,511 ballots were cast on Election Day.

“Once again, early and absentee voting exceeded the actual day of election voting,” said John Campbell, the county’s custodian of elections.

In addition, 14 provisional votes and about 10 ballots sent from overseas were being reviewed Friday prior to them being included in the countywide vote totals, according to county election official Tonya Moore.

Most races in Catoosa County were decided during the July 31 primary election, as many candidates were unopposed, but a five-way contest to succeed Phil Summers as sheriff required a runoff between Larry Black and Gary Sisk.

Sisk, who finished second in the GOP primary, won that Aug. 21 runoff.

Even though no Democrat was listed on the general election ballot, Sisk, a 22-year year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department who now serves as Sheriff Phil Summers’ chief deputy and holds the rank of major, was challenged by write-in candidate Mark Cruise.

Sisk received 19,614 votes, defeating Cruise, who is a member of the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department.

Of the 1,137 write-in votes cast for sheriff last week, nearly half were discounted as being for frivolous/non-qualified candidates or for fictional characters including Mickey Mouse and Andy Taylor, sheriff on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Cruise, the only qualified write-in candidate, garnered 678 votes.

While Sisk collected nearly 95 percent of votes cast to win in a landslide, margins were much closer in referendums related to schools and the sale of alcohol.

Referendum 1, which allows creation of charter schools that can operate independent of local school board control and instead are governed by a statewide commission, won approval by receiving about 59 percent “yes” votes.

Five different referendums concerning the regulation of alcoholic beverage sales in Ringgold and the unincorporated areas of the county all gained voter approval with margins that ranged from about 5 percent to about 20 percent.

The referendum that gained the greatest support was one that allows the sale of liquor by the drink for onsite consumption within the unincorporated areas of Catoosa County. That referendum was primarily aimed at allowing restaurants to serve distilled spirits and mixed drinks.

Two referendums, one for the city of Ringgold and one for the unincorporated areas of the county, allow retail (package) sales of alcoholic beverages (wine or beer, but no distilled spirits) on Sundays. Two other referendums, again one for the city and one for the county, will permit by-the-glass sales of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and spirits) for on-premises consumption.

Local ordinances will require some revisions to incorporate the recently adopted referendums, but officials say all will become law the first business day of 2013.

Fort Oglethorpe residents’ ballots included only the three alcoholic beverage amendments affecting unincorporated areas of the county.

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