The sheriff’s race is finally over.
Sheriff Ramsey Bennett fended off a strong challenge from Blackshear Police Major Robby Boatright to win a third term in office in Tuesday’s general primary election run-off.
Bennett defeated Boatright by a tally of 2,113 (51.7 percent) to 1,972 (48.3 percent) — a margin of just 141 votes out of 4,085 votes cast in the sheriff’s race.
Bennett won absentees 500-219 and early vote tallies 1,071-1,033 building a 319 vote lead as the first returns were posted Tuesday night. Boatright won both the Pierce County Gym (Blackshear: 494-381) and Eagle Station (Patterson: 226-161) polling stations on election day, but it was not enough to win the election.
There is no Democratic nominee, so Bennett will be sworn-in for another term in January.
Turn-out in Tuesday’s election was only about 35 percent of Pierce County’s total registered voters. A total of about 4,300 of Pierce County’s 12,000 registered voters turned out to cast ballots.
The turnout was down from the approximately 5,000 who turned out for the June primary. Turnout in that election was just 40 percent, considerable lower than the 54.1 percent turnout seen in the last contested sheriff’s election in 2012.
Bennett both savored the victory and also looked forward to the future in an interview with The Times after the results were final.
“I am very humbled and thankful for everyone who voted for me and for my supporters and all the hard work they did on my behalf,” said the Sheriff.
Bennett said he looks forward the next four years.
“I am going to keep working hard to serve all the people of Pierce County just like I have always done,” he said. “We are going to keep on keeping on.”
Bennett reached out to those who supported his opponents during the election.
“I want those who didn’t vote for me to know that I am here for them, too. I am going to serve them to the best of my ability. I encourage anyone with questions or concerns or problems of any kind to come to me and talk with me about it. I am here to serve you,” he said.
Bennett said he doesn’t plan on any major shake-ups or changes with the sheriff’s office right now.
“I’m not going to say there are not going to be some, but I don’t anticipate making any major changes,” he said.
Last Tuesday’s run-off election marked the end of a grueling more than year-long race for sheriff that featured a four way race for the first time in recorded history.
Bennett faced off against Boatright, former Georgia State Trooper Greg Stone and former Department of Natural Resources Ranger Gary Simmons in the June primary.
In the June election, Bennett finished with 2,259 votes and Boatright was second with 1,826 votes. Stone received 384 votes while Simmons received 191 votes. Since no candidate received 50 percent plus one vote, that forced last week’s run-off election.
In the only other race on the run-off ballot, Democrats in the First U.S. Congressional District selected their nominee to challenge incumbent Republican Buddy Carter (R-Pooler).
Joyce Marie Griggs defeated Lisa Ring 111-69 in Pierce County. Griggs also won the district primary run-off with about 54 percent of the vote. She will face off against Carter in the November general election.
The November general election will feature just one local race. Contractor and Democratic candidate Tyrone Harris will challenge Republican incumbent first district county commissioner Harold Rozier Jr. Rozier fended off challenger Weyland Yeomans in the June Republican primary.
The November election will also feature the presidential contest between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden.
Voters will also be deciding two U.S. Senate seats. Incumbent U.S. Senator David Perdue will face Democratic media executive Jon Ossoff.
The seat formerly held by Senator Johnny Isakson will also be up for election in a jungle primary Nov. 3 to fill his unexpired term. Isakson resigned last year due to health reasons.
Incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to fill the remainder of Senator Isakson’s term.
In addition to Loeffler, Republicans running include Congressman Doug Collins, Lithonia resident Derrick E. Grayson, businesswoman Annette Jackson of Lilburn, Macon businessman A. Wayne Johnson and Baxley educator Kandiss Taylor.
Democrats running include Lithonia attorney Deborah Jackson, veteran Jamesia James, Tucker resident Tamara Johnson Shealey, Matt Lieberman, son of former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, physician Joy Slade, former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and Athens professor Richard Dien Winfield. White Plains resident Brian Slowinski is running as a Libertarian. Independent candidates include business consultant Al Bartell, attorney Allen Buckley, Mableton resident Michael Todd Greene and business owner Valencia Stovall. Green candidate is John “Green” Fortuin of Athens and write-in candidate is Rod Mack of Hapeville.