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Cooper may squeeze onto Hall Board of Commissioners

Cochran could seek recount in District 1 race

POSTED: May 21, 2014 1:58 a.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

Hall County Board of Commissioners District 1 candidate Ken Cochran stands center with his son Ken and wife Anne on the deck of campaign manager Bill Hall's house with supporters in the background.

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Kathy Cooper may have just inched past by her opponent to win office as the next District 1 representative on the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

Cooper defeated Ken Cochran in the Republican primary for the South Hall seat, according to Tuesday night’s numbers.

And because she faces no Democratic or independent challenger in the general election this fall, Cooper will likely take office in January, replacing Craig Lutz, who vacated the seat to run for the state Public Service Commission.

As results slowly poured in Tuesday night, both Cooper and Cochran were left wondering just how close the race would be.

Cooper took 51.6 percent of the vote while Cochran garnered 48.4 percent.

“It’s been a long night, but I’m excited about what we’re going to get into in the future,” Cooper said after the results were announced.

But the race might not be over just yet.

Cochran said the slow tally of ballots, coupled with the fact he lost by just 129 votes, had him questioning whether to ask for a recount.

“I’m feeling like something’s not right here,” he said. “I just can’t believe it took so long” to count the votes.

Cochran said he would inquire about a recount this morning with the county elections office.

Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said provisional ballots remain to be counted. If the results hold, Cooper said her business experience made the difference.

Cooper, 51, is a lifelong farmer. As president of Cooper Family Enterprises, she runs a diversified family farm in Chestnut Mountain. She also has years of service in community organizations.

Both candidates have been involved in local politics for many years.

Cooper ran unsuccessfully for the county commission in 2006, and Cochran has been a leader in the Hall County Republican Party for more than a decade.

So in many ways, the race hinged on each candidate’s plans to address growth and development issues in South Hall.

But the tight race shows there may be strong opinions about who is best to represent that part of the county.

Nevertheless, turnout was poor in the primary, with just more than 19 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

With the primary date moved up this year, several uncontested local races and the fact it’s a nonpresidential election year, perhaps this low turnout was to be expected.

But after months on the campaign trail, both candidates lamented the fact.

“I was really disappointed in the turnout tonight,” Cooper said.

Cochran, 64, is the owner of Cochran’s Marine Service.

He has served on the executive board of the local GOP for 13 years and also is a member of the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Cochran said he was disappointed by the result, particularly given the race turned out to be so competitive.

Despite the loss, he said he would continue to remain active in local politics.

“It’s not going to change my attitude about anything,” Cochran added.

Cooper, meanwhile, thanked Cochran for the tough fight he gave and expressed relief the campaign season had ended.

“Mr. Cochran did a wonderful job,” Cooper said. “We had a good, clean race. I’m just excited that it’s over.”



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