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Young, Harrell and Puckett win big

SHERIFF HARRY YOUNG was all smiles as he greeted supporters Tuesday night outside the offices of The Cairo Messenger.

With 72% of Grady County’s 13,136 registered voters going to the polls Grady County Sheriff Harry Young easily won a hotly contested race over Republican challenger Earl Stuckey 5488 to 3685 while incumbent Dist. 1 Board of Education member Cuy Harrell III held off his Republican challenger Ryan Lee 1090 to 625.
Political newcomers Byron Puckett and Jeff Lovett faced off in the race for the Dist. 3 board of education seat but at the end of the night Puckett prevailed 1134 to 831.
Outside The Cairo Messenger office a large crowd gathered to witness the results being tallied on a large display board. Included among those observing were victorious candidates.
“I feel great, relieved more than anything else. I just ran my race. It’s my staff that helps me be a good sheriff. I appreciate all of the people who worked behind me in this election,” said Sheriff Harry Young.
Young went on to say,”I don’t want there to be any hard feelings. I want those that didn’t vote for me to trust that I will keep the county safe, and maybe they’ll vote for me in four years.”
The re-elected sheriff also expressed his hope that the board of commissioners will continue to support him and his office. “We have gone above and beyond what any other sheriff’s office could do with the funding we receive,” he said.
Incumbent Dist. 1 school board member Cuy Harrell III was also in jubilant spirits. “I had a good feeling going in. I had a lot of support and encouragement from voters — certainly in district one, but all across the county. I just appreciate the voters of district one for their support.”
Although Harrell won re-election he admits that his next term will be filled with challenges. “Trying to balance the budget and keep quality educational programs for our students is our goal. I know there’ll be one seat turnover on the board with Mr. Puckett coming on and I look forward to a 4-year term and working with my fellow board members,” Harrell commented.
Political newcomer Byron Puckett told The Messenger, “I’m excited. It was a great experience, the whole thing. I learned a lot.”
Puckett, like his fellow board member-to-be Harrell, also noted that the board will have it’s work cut out for them in 2009.
“The budget will be a priority. With all the state cuts we will have to do all we can to continue to improve education and maintain the safety of our kids without having to greatly increase taxes,” Puckett said.
In the presidential contest the vast majority of Grady’s voters went for Republican John McCain. McCain garnered 5775 votes to Barack Obama’s 3539.
Nationwide, however, with 68 percent of the country’s precincts reporting at Messenger press time Obama had swamped McCain in both the popular vote and in the Electoral College.
Grady voters also favored U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss over Democratic challenger Jim Martin 5158 to 3196.
On the other hand Democratic Second Congressional District Representative Sanford Bishop toppled his Republican challenger Lee Ferrell 5465 to 3440. As The Messenger went to press Bishop led districtwide with 67.2 percent of the vote with 91 percent reporting.
Local voters also favored District Attorney Joe Mulholland over challenger Ryan Cleveland 4,773 to 3,892. With 93 percent of the precincts in the circuit reporting Mulholland held a commanding lead with 61.3 percent of the vote.
Grady County’s own John Monds seeking a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission as a Libertarian candidate failed to earn the support of the majority of local voters. Incumbent H. Douglas Everett scored 5638 votes to Monds’ 2043.
The majority of Grady County voters favored an expanded tax exemption for large timber owners 5084 to 3402 on constitutional amendment #1 while amendments #2 and #3 were defeated locally 4732 no votes to 3786 yes votes on amendment #2 and 4887 no votes to 3242 yes votes on amendment #3.
Roughly half of the county’s voters took advantage of the 45 days of early voting. Election Superintendent Sadie Voyles reported no problems on election day.
“I’ve been real pleased all day. We had some minor glitches, but nothing major or long lasting,” she said.

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