The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners is gaining a new face, while an old one is headed for a runoff against the county's former fire chief, according to unofficial results from the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration Office.
With all 42 precincts reporting, newcomer Brian Poole won the Post 3 seat currently occupied by outgoing Commissioner Karen Bosch. But Post 2 Commissioner Jim Hubbard has more campaigning to do after failing to garner 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race against former Fire Chief Ray Gunnin and Woodstock attorney Channing Ruskell.
Here's how the candidates spent election night.
Hubbard, Gunnin Headed for Runoff
The hotly contested three-way race for the Post 2 Commission seat that included incumbent Hubbard, a 37-year volunteer fireman with decades of community service experience, including eight years as County Commissioner; Gunnin, a lifelong Cherokee County resident who, after serving the county for 32 years with the Fire Department, sought the Commission seat to continue to serve the citizens in a different role; and Ruskell, a 37-year county resident and Tea Party favorite.
Hubbard showed an early lead, claiming nearly 44 percent of the votes, with Gunnin and Ruskell each claiming 28 percent and jockeying for the second-place position throughout the evening.
“There's no front-runner,” Hubbard said while surveying the partial results shortly before 10 p.m.
Hubbard spent the evening with family, friends and supporters, tracking election results at Shane's Rib Shack in Hickory Flat. “We're all debating which we'd rather run against,” he said. “We'll just have to get our guys back together and beat one of them in the runoff.”
Gunnin gathered with friends and family at Sims Village on Sugar Pike Road, also in the Hickory Flat community, and said the results changed only slightly each time he refreshed the page on his computer. “I know there's going to be a runoff,” he said shortly before 10 pm on Tuesday. “I did everything I could do, especially being new to politics. I ran a clean campaign, and that's all I could do.”
He said he would continue to serve Cherokee County in whatever capacity was afforded to him.
Ruskell spent the day at Channing & Ruskell, his Woodstock law office, and said, “I'll be where I'll be” when results were reported Tuesday evening. He continued to work throughout the evening, checking results every so often. “I'm happy with the results right now,” he said, shortly before 10 pm, with results incomplete. “I'm waiting for 100 percent, waiting for the full vote, before I make any plans.”
When all of the unofficial results were in, Gunnin edged out Ruskell.
"Mr. Gunnin has prevailed into the runoff with 21 votes more than Mr. Ruskell," Hubbard said. "That means we will have a good positive campaign where we can really concentrate on the issues."
Poole Wins Over Hampton
In Post 3, two candidates vied for the seat being vacated by commissioner Karen Bosch, who announced that she would not be seeking re-election, due to personal reasons.
Candidate Chris Hampton is a 20-year resident of Cherokee County, Chairman of the Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency Advisory Board and sales and marketing division manager for 44tools.com, an online automotive tool and accessory company.
Brian Poole has worked for the past 20 years in the funeral industry., He relocated to Cherokee County in 2011 as manager of Woodstock Funeral Home.
Both Post 3 candidates cite transparency in government among their core values, and count common-sense, benefits-driven leadership among the qualities they would bring to the County Commission. They also stated similar positions in regard to issues such as combining county and city fire services to cut costs and increase efficiency – although Poole stated that he doesn't see a chance for it happening in the immediate future; and both agreed that traffic woes need to be addressed, but the T-SPLOST project list was not one that either candidate supported.
On Tuesday evening, Poole showed a steady lead beginning with the earliest precinct reports, but Hampton maintained a healthy share of the votes throughout the evening.
As the evening drew to a close, Poole pulled 57 percent of the vote, claiming more than 1,200 votes over his opponent.
“I look forward to serving the citizens of Cherokee County,” he said.
Hampton spent Tuesday evening with a close eye on results with friends and family at the BridgeMill Clubhouse, while Poole planned a quiet evening at his Woodstock home.