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Final Hall ballot count confirms school board runoff

Sloan, Pettitt set for July 22 runoff; Cooper certified as winner of commission race

POSTED: May 23, 2014 11:46 p.m.

Hall County’s final count of provisional ballots Friday confirmed a runoff between school board contenders Brian Sloan and Mark Pettitt.

Meanwhile, Kathy Cooper was certified as the winner of a tight race for the District 1 Board of Commissioners seat. 

Sloan led the Republican primary with 49.99 percent of the votes, just two votes shy of avoiding a July 22 runoff in his Post 2 re-election bid. He had 5,475 votes of the 10,952 cast.

By law, a candidate must earn 50 percent of the votes plus one to win without a runoff.

Pettitt earned 2,742 votes, 25.04 percent, just seven votes ahead of Traci McBride, who had 2,735 for 24.97 percent.

On primary night Tuesday, Pettitt’s margin over McBride was only three votes.

Provisional ballots counted late Friday helped Pettitt. Of the 14 provisional ballots counted, Pettitt received four votes, Sloan received one and McBride received zero. 

Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said most of the provisional ballots were a result of voters showing up at the wrong precinct. 

“We thought we had a window to take it without a runoff,” Sloan said.

Sloan said he would plan his strategy for the runoff over the next couple of weeks.

“I think we’ll have a good race,” he said. “I wish I would have taken it tonight but that wasn’t to be.”

“I’m just thankful for the confidence that the voters of Hall County have placed in me,” Pettitt said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do going into the July runoff.”

McBride, though disappointed, said she was proud of her campaign and wished her opponents well in the runoff. 

“Obviously, it would have been great for me to have been in a runoff,” she said, “but that’s not the way it’s turned out.”

Pettitt acknowledged he has some ground to make up between now and the runoff. 

“I hope I can reach out to Dr. McBride’s voters and her supporters,” he said. “I feel like there was a clear signal by a substantial amount of people in Hall County that a new voice is warranted on the Hall County school board. I just hope I can carry that mantle and be that new voice.” 

Because the election was so close, there has been speculation that a recount might be in order. 

But there was no word yet on whether any of the candidates would seek a recount. By rule, a candidate may ask for a recount within two business days of certification if the margin is less than 1 percent of the votes.

Sosebee said the deadline to request a recount is Wednesday. 

In the Hall Post 1 commission seat, Cooper earned 2,072 votes, 51.62 percent, while Ken Cochran garnered 1,942 votes, or 48.38 percent. That margin of 130 votes grew by only one after the provisional ballots were counted and excluded Cochran from meeting the recount threshold.



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