Two justice court judge races, one constable contest headed for runoffs

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A crowded field of nearly 15 candidates for two open LincolnCounty Justice Court judge positions was narrowed to five inTuesday’s primary elections, which also saw the unseating of an incumbent constable.

Justice Court Judge Post One Judy Case Martin and Post Two Judge Billy Joe “B.J.” Price sparked a rush of candidates to fill those vacancies when they decided not to seek re-election.

With 1,634 votes in the Democratic primary, Ralph Boone led a six-candidate field seeking to capture Martin’s post. He will meet fellow Democrat Art Likens, who gathered 1,126 votes to finish second.

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With no Republican or independent opposition to Boone or Likens,Democrats will decide who will take the bench in the Aug. 28 runoff election.

“I done pretty good with six people. You can’t hardly win outright with that many running,” Boone said.

The challenge for the runoff, he said, will be to get people back to the polls.

“I’m going to have to go back and see more people,” Boone said.”Some of the major races are over with and I just have to get them back out.”

Trailing Likens in the race were Valerie Shelby Sterling with 687 votes, Carol Brewer with 637 votes, Trisha Jordan Weeks at 434votes and Frank Leggett with 425 votes.

Seven Democrats vied for the nomination to replace Price in PostTwo. Ann Reeves seized 869 votes to force a runoff with Carl Brown,who led all candidates with 1,048 votes.

The winner of the runoff will face Republican Freddie Canon in the Nov. 6 general election.

A late surge among boxes in the northern part of the county boosted Reeves past Chris King, who finished with 797 votes. RickyBeavers, with 545 votes; Mary Ann (Gray) Collins, 535 votes; Pat H.McCullough, 419 votes; and Andrew Graham, 174 votes, rounded out the vote totals.

“I’m much more comfortable than I was this time yesterday,”Brown said this morning. “I’m feeling real good now.”

However, Brown said he was disappointed by the overall turnout in an election that featured races for crucial county offices.

“I have to find a way to motivate people,” he said. “Yesterday was a beautiful day, but still people didn’t vote by the numbers that are registered in those precincts. We’ll have to find some way to get them out to vote in the runoff.”

In constable races, Post One incumbent Charles Ralph Smith was edged out of a runoff by 18 votes.

Clint A. Earls advanced to the Aug. 28 runoff on the strength of 1,733 votes, which led totals among other candidates.

Earls said he was excited to advance past the primary.

“I’m ecstatic about the response to my campaign and I want to thank my supporters for the turnout they gave me,” he said.

The vote leader said he could begin turning his attention to the runoff campaign today and urge voters to return to the polls for the runoff.

“This is my first go-round and I just don’t know what the turnout will be,” Earls said.

Whether Earls would face fellow challenger Kelly Porter or Charles Ralph Smith remained an open question late Tuesday night.About 50 votes separated the second- and third-place candidates.

But by the time most people were eating their breakfast this morning more than 800 absentee and affidavit ballots were counted.The special ballots narrowed the gap, but didn’t change the result.

At midnight, with all precincts reporting but no special ballots, Porter led Charles Ralph Smith 1,157 votes to 1,108.

“Right now it’s just wait and see,” the incumbent said. “It’s too close right now to really know the final outcome.”

Ultimately, Porter was able to claim a spot in the runoff.Porter finished with 1,229 votes to Charles Ralph Smith’s 1,211.

Fellow Democrat Don Smith captured 713 votes, but fell short of the necessary number to be a factor in the runoff.

“I’m thankful for all of my support,” said Porter. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in the next three weeks.”

The Post One race will be decided in the Democratic runoff.

The lines were more clearly drawn in the race for Post Two constable.

Incumbent Lavon Boyd seized 2,402 votes to capture the majority needed to secure his re-election. He defeated Robert “Bobby”Ratcliff, with 1,141 votes, and Mike Milholen, with 637 votes.

Boyd said he was confident he could avoid a runoff election, but was nervous throughout the night nonetheless.

“I had that feeling,” he said. “All my supporters said I wouldn’t have a runoff. I appreciate the support of the people inDistrict Two Lincoln County and I’ll continue to serve them the same way I have been.”

The win against fellow Democrats Tuesday secured the victory forBoyd, who faces no Republican or Independent opposition.