Voters return two incumbents to county commission seatsPublished 3:39am Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The incumbents on the Lawrence County Commission ended the night as the victors but not without a lot of nail-biting by their supporters.
Up for their first elections were Republicans Bill Pratt and Freddie Hayes, both of whom were appointed to the commission by their party upon vacancies on the board.
Pratt faced off with a political newcomer, Democrat Carl Robinson, while Hayes was running against former two-term democrat commissioner Doug Malone, who lost in 2010.
With the first few precincts counted, both incumbents took the lead. But, in the Pratt race, Robinson took over and, with 64 percent of the votes counted, there was only a 44-vote difference between the two men with Robinson leading.
But as the eastern end returns started coming in, Pratt steadily surged ahead with the final tally coming in at 13,152 for the incumbent and 10,812 for Robinson. Pratt pulled almost 55 percent of the vote while Robinson took 45 percent.
“I feel just great,” Pratt said.
The Chesapeake dairy farmer said he believed voters appreciated some of the changes the commissioners instituted in the past year, especially putting the 911 dispatching under the authority of the Lawrence County Sheriff.
“They appreciated the new ideas that we had and the effort that we did to make them happen,” Pratt said.
This campaign was the first for Robinson who had said earlier at the Lawrence County Courthouse as the first returns came in that he needed to win by a larger majority in the western end.
“I would just like to thank all of my supporters,” Robinson said after the final vote was in. “Everybody who backed me and gave me a shot at my first political venture.”
The other commission race went back and forth between Hayes and Malone until about half of the vote was in. Then Malone steadily held a lead on average of about 500 to 600 votes until 80 precincts were counted.
At that point Hayes took a slight lead. With 82 precincts in Hayes surged ahead with 11,467 versus Malone’s 11,341. With all 84 precincts counted, the final tally was 12,101 for Hayes to 11,816 for Malone.
However with 720 provisional votes still to be counted that 285-margin in Hayes’ favor could change. Those will not be counted until 10 days after the election.
“I feel good about it,” Hayes said about his win. “I think it was because of the way I am. I am a straight shooter and I represent everyone.”
A call made to Malone’s cell phone was not returned by press time.