By KRISTEN SWING
Dan Eldridge has earned the title of Washington County mayor following months of heavy campaigning and spending in a hotly contested race against former Johnson City mayor and former State Sen. Don Arnold, as well as local mechanic James Reeves.
Eldridge earned 51 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. With no one running as a Democrat or Independent for the mayoral position and barring any write-in surprises in the August General Election last Tuesdays victory means Eldridge will be the next county mayor.
Eldridge will replace George Jaynes, who has held the position for the past 24 years.
The very first thing I want to do is get a really good transition organized, Eldridge said. I want to be able to be productive from Day One.
Eldridge said he and his campaign expected to win the election last week, but had been prepared for a much closer margin of victory.
Arnold received 35 percent of the vote in Tuesdays election.
The public spoke and they resoundingly decided Mr. Eldridge was the best candidate for the job, Arnold said. Im disappointed, but thats politics.
Arnold said he is particularly disappointed in what he called a poor voter turnout, especially in the Johnson City precincts, where he was expected to carry the vote.
Eldridge and Arnold campaigned heavily during the months leading up to last weeks Republican Primary with advertisements on television and in print as well as several mass mailings to county voters.
As election day got closer, some of Eldridges ads took aim at Arnold for his previous voting record.
Were proud of the fact that we didnt do any negative advertising, Arnold said when asked if he had any hard feelings toward the countys new mayor. But people have to do what they have to do (to win).
The third candidate in the race, Reeves, received 14 percent of the vote.
Like Arnold, Reeves expressed disappointment in the voter turnout, but said the loss will not keep him out of politics.
Im more involved in Washington County than those two candidates (Arnold and Eldridge) ever were, Reeves said. Ill still go to county commission meetings. I made a pledge to my voters that Im going to put cameras in that room, win or lose this race. I hope to be set up to start taping commission meetings by the end of the month.
Reeves said he is also considering being a write-in candidate for the position in the Aug. 5 General Election.
Were not sure about it yet, Reeves said. Its a hard fight
ASSESSOR OF PROPERTY RACE
In the race for Assessor of Property, Scott Buckingham defeated Forrest Boreing by fewer than 300 votes in the Republican Primary.
Buckingham earned 40 percent of the vote, or 4,925 votes, compared to Boreings 38 percent, or 4,669 votes. A third candidate, Steven Harris, received 22 percent of the vote.
With the victory last week, Buckingham, who currently serves as the interim assessor of property, now moves on to face Independent Del Carroll for the position for assessor in the Aug. 5 General Election.
COUNTY CLERK RACE
Kathy Storey handily defeated four opponents for the position of County Clerk, earning 40 percent of the overall vote.
Candidate Sheila Haren earned 25 percent of the vote while the three other candidates Tony Fowler, Ron England and Scott Hyatt each received 13 percent or less.
With no one running as a Democrat or Independent for the position, Tuesdays win means Storey will replace longtime County Clerk Doyle Cloyd in the position.
Running uncontested in the election were candidates for county sheriff, register of deeds, circuit court clerk, and county trustee.
Incumbent Ed Graybeal will serve another term as sheriff, incumbent Ginger Jilton will serve another term as register of deeds and incumbent Karen Guinn will serve another term as circuit court clerk.
Incumbent county trustee Jack Daniels will now go on to face off against Pamela Fitzgerald in the Aug. 5 General Election.
All results remain unofficial until the election commission canvasses and certifies the results.
By KRISTEN SWING