Commission candidates pursue votes

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Newly elected candidates nationwide are preparing to assume theoffices they secured in the general election two weeks ago, but inLincoln County, one contest isn’t over.

The residents of Lincoln County’s District Three will head tothe polls one more time next Tuesday to decide who their newelection commissioner will be in a runoff election. The six pollingplaces for District Three – Bogue Chitto, City Hall, Enterprise,Norfield, Ole Brook and Ruth – will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.on Tuesday, Nov. 23, and the Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’s Officewill be open extra hours to accommodate those going out of town forThanksgiving.

“Saturday, Nov. 20, is the last day to vote absentee, and ouroffice will be open from 8 a.m. until noon,” said Circuit ClerkTerry Lynn Watkins.

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Next week’s runoff election will decide a contest between twoRepublican women that was too close to call when the generalelection’s results were counted late Nov. 2.

Ruth’s Rachel Cole Gatlin carried approximately 40 percent ofthe 1,850 votes cast with 734 votes, but her tally wasn’t enough todeclare victory over Brookhaven’s Barbara Davis, who earned 659votes for about 36 percent. Election commissioner candidates mustearn office by gaining a majority of 50 percent plus one vote,unlike school board elections, where simple majority wins.

Both candidates defeated two Democrat challengers handily, withBogue Chitto’s Gloria Brown earning 285 votes and Enterprise’s MikeWalley bringing in 172. The district’s race for electioncommissioner was the only local contested race on the ballot.

“I was surprised by the turnout two weeks go, so I’m hoping I’llbe surprised again,” Watkins said, speculating about voterparticipation in next week’s runoff. “Typically, we don’t have asmany people come back out, but both of these ladies are reallyworking hard.”

Gatlin said she’s spent the time since the general electiontalking to her community’s voters, reminding them of the upcomingrunoff and encouraging them to vote once more. She’s been on thephone and in the newspaper with advertisements.

Gatlin received some advice and encouragement from District FourElection Commissioner Janie Sisco, who was the winner of theclosest election in Lincoln County history when she defeatedincumbent Charles Monroe Smith by one vote in 2008.

“She reminded me to make sure people know every vote counts,”Gatlin said. “Every vote is important. Don’t think your votedoesn’t count, because it does.”

Davis, too, is making her campaign approach on voting ingeneral. Her advertisements are modeled like public serviceannouncements, listing times and qualifications for absentee voting- something that needs to be addressed, she said.

“While I’ve been on the campaign trial, it became clear to methat many registered voters need a clarification of absentee andaffidavit voting,” she said.

Davis is also working the phones and shaking hands, trying tomarshal her supporters for one final push.

“I’m expecting a tight race,” she said.