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Goss wins election as tax office leader

A new face will take over as tax/assessorcollector while familiar candidates triumphed Tuesday night in theraces for sheriff, circuit clerk and chancery clerk.

    In a three-candidate field, Rita Wilkinson Goss won the office oftax assessor/collector, replacing the retiring incumbent NancyJordan.

    “I can’t thank family and friends enough,” Goss said Tuesday nightas her victory seemed clear. “I have a deep appreciation forthem.”

    According to compete but unofficial results, Goss received 5,216votes. Republican candidate Mike Jinks received 4,520 votes andindependent Mavis Henderson Stewart 2,710.

    Goss has unsuccessfully run for the office several times in thepast but said she felt this year would be different.

    “I knew if she (Jordan) retired it could be my year,” Gosssaid.

    However, Goss said she remained nervous throughout the campaignseason.

    “You can never get confident,” she said.

    For the post of Lincoln County sheriff, voters resoundinglyre-elected incumbent Steve Rushing to a second full term.

    “I’m very, very grateful,” Rushing said of his victory. “The votetotals have been tremendous.”

    Rushing defeated Republican challenger Gene “Bub” Simmons by 9,908to 2,525 votes. That comes to almost 80 percent of the totalvotes.

    That continues a trend of dominant election performances byRushing. He defeated two challengers in the Democratic primarywithout a runoff. In the 2007 county elections, Rushing earnedalmost 90 percent of the vote.

    “It’s a privilege to know people think that much of you,” Rushingsaid of his continued electoral support.

    Rushing said there are “many programs I want to keep growing” witha second term. These include neighborhood watch groups and he saidcommunity involvement with the sheriff’s department remains a majorgoal of his.

    Incumbent Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins also won re-election,but by a much smaller margin.

    Watkins earned 6,631 votes and Republican challenger DustinBairfield 5,751 votes. Her victory gives Watkins a fifth term ascircuit clerk.

    “I appreciate the people who continued to support me,” Watkinssaid.

    She expressed relief that the campaign is now behind her.

    “It’s been a tough year,” said Watkins, who has been indicted oncharges of embezzlement.

    Watkins has pleaded not guilty and her trial is scheduled to beginJan. 9 2012. If she is convicted, a special election will be neededto fill the office.

    The office of Lincoln County chancery clerk will also continue tobe helmed by an incumbent, Republican Tillmon Bishop. Bishop willbegin his fourth term.

    Bishop received 7,192 votes to Democratic challenger Roger DaleLeggett’s total of 5,258.

    The 2011 election was the first since Bishop switched to theRepublican Party, having previously run on the Democratic ticket.He could not be reached for comment.

    Countywide, 12,644 votes were cast, including absentee andaffidavit ballots.

    Improperly marked absentee ballots continue to cause problems forelection officials. Instructions indicate that voters should fillin the ovals on absentee ballots with a dark pen, but some votersdisregard these instructions.

    Election officials chose Tuesday night to manually transferimproperly marked ballots to properly marked ballots, causing somedelay in tabulating absentee votes.

    Vote-counting was not completed until almost 3 a.m. Wednesday.