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Mecum, Oliver face Round 2 in Hall chairman race
Former sheriff tops vote totals to force runoff with incumbent
Dick Mecum gets a hug from his granddaughter Morgan White as he watches final returns Tuesday night for the Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman race. Mecum will meet Tom Oliver in a runoff for the seat. - photo by Tom Reed

We the People voting info, election results

Statewide results from Ga. Secretary of State Elections website

Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman
Steve Gailey 19.4%
√ Dick Mecum 46.4%
√ Tom Oliver (I) 34.2%

What’s next: Mecum and Oliver meet in Aug. 21 runoff; winner faces no Democratic foe in November

Dick Mecum
Age: 71
Occupation: Retired after 35 years in law enforcement
Political experience: Elected sheriff of Hall County three terms, 1980, 1984, 1988; appointed by President George W. Bush as U.S. Marshal, and confirmed by U.S. Senate, 2002.
Education: University of Georgia, Bachelor of Business Administration in management, accounting, 1977; Brenau University, Master of Public Administration in management, accounting, 1986
Family: Wife, Judy; eight children
District history: Gainesville Kiwanis, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce – Leadership Hall County, Lakewood Baptist Church, deacon, Sunday school teacher

Tom Oliver
Age: 64
Occupation: Poultry and cattle farmer
Political experience: South Hall commissioner, vice chairman, 1991-94; Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman, 2005 to present
Education: Gainesville High School, 1965; Mercer University, 1969
Family: Wife Sally Oliver; three children, Katy O. Hutcheson, Jay Oliver, Caroline O. Lawson
District history: Lifelong resident of Chestnut Mountain. Poultry/cattle business since 1971. Member of Hall County Farm Bureau, charter member of South Hall Rotary Club, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning Commission Board, Georgia Egg Commission, Angus Cattle Board, Chestnut Mountain Presbyterian Church. Vietnam Veteran attached to 82nd Airborne.

And then there were two.

Dick Mecum and Tom Oliver emerged from Tuesday’s Republican primary race for Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman only to face off in an Aug. 21 runoff.

Mecum, the former Hall County sheriff, earned 46 percent of the vote, while Oliver, the two-term incumbent, took in 34 percent.

Former North Hall Commissioner Steve Gailey earned enough votes to force the runoff.

Mecum finished just a few percentage points shy of winning the race outright.

Mecum, who has been hammering Oliver’s record, said, “I think people are looking for change. They are looking to return Hall County government to the people.”

The chairman position is elected by the county at-large. His responsibility is to run commission meetings and work sessions; he is also a voting member of the board.

With no Democratic candidates in the race, the winner of the runoff will become the next chairman in January.

Mecum, 71, has been critical of the commission recent history of handling its finances. The former sheriff said commissioners, including Oliver, should have seen the economic crisis coming and cut expenses earlier.

Mecum said he would bring more transparency to meetings and offer Hall County residents a better opportunity to provide comment during meetings.

Mecum said he was happy with Tuesday’s results, which he said proved voters are interested in “fresh ideas.”

“We’re in good position headed to the runoff,” he said.

Oliver, 64, said he was not sweating his double-digit deficit to Mecum.

Oliver is seeking his third term as chairman. The incumbent has largely run on his record and efforts to provide stability over the years.

Oliver has taken credit for helping to turn a tumultuous board with newly elected commissioners in 2011 back into a functioning body and keeping the county’s finances solvent during the economic crisis.

On Tuesday’s results, Oliver said, “I was pleased because we were on a campaign on what the county has gotten accomplished and the vision of the future.”

Oliver read the results as evidence that he was gaining momentum in getting his message to the public.