One incumbent Pike County supervisor was re-elected and another will go to a runoff following voting in Tuesday’s primary elections, which provided a clearer picture of who might take a seat at the board that will have a majority of newcomers in January.
The Aug. 27 runoff will also determine the winner of the District 4 supervisor’s race and Republican and Democratic nominees in District 3.
District 1 incumbent Tazwell Bowsky narrowly avoided a runoff, capturing 649 votes for 50.43 percent of the vote. Tracey Felder placed second with 394 votes (31 percent), Charles Burris had 149 and Roger Nick had 92, according to unofficial and uncertified election returns that include absentee ballots but not affidavit or curbside ballots.
“It wasn’t a surprise but it was kind of interesting going down to the wire,” Bowsky said. “The only thing you can count on is if you’re unopposed you’re alright.
Bowsky, who has held the office for six terms, was gracious to his opponents.
“It was an interesting concept in that we all know each other and we were born and raised in the same area. We all want the same thing. We all want better for Pike County.”
There are no other candidates running for the office.
In District 2, incumbent Faye Hodges placed first in the Democratic primary with 546 votes (39 percent) and will compete against South Pike school board president Sam Hall took in the runoff. He had 393 votes (28 percent), while Lucy Darlene Tobias had 373 and Shonda Martin Patterson had 81.
In District 3, which had 11 candidates running, two runoffs will determine party nominees for the November general election.
Democrats Etta Batteaste Taplin and Pat Martin will face off on Aug. 27 after Taplin received 414 votes (48 percent) and Martin received 184 votes (21 percent). Others running were Alton Witherspoon Jr., who had 128 votes, Gyromee Magee with 56 votes, Mary Thompson with 48 votes and Justin Bruce with 26.
In the Republican primary, Robert Accardo led with 608 votes (42 percent) to advance to a runoff against William “Rusty” McCulley, who had who had 316 (21 percent). Others running ere Dwain Brister, who had 270 votes, Rick Brister with 159 and Gary McKenzie with 90.
The winner will replace Chuck Lambert, who is stepping down.
Jake Gazzo and Marlin Bass will face each other in an Aug. 27 runoff, with the winner becoming the next District 4 supervisor in Pike County.
Gazzo finished with 814 votes (41 percent) and Bass had 565 (28 percent). Other candidates included former McComb selectman Tommy McKenzie with 234 votes, Janie Wells with 187, Greg Ballew with 60 votes and Val Deer with 38. All ran as Republicans.
The winner of the runoff will replace two-term Supervisor Luke Brewer, who is not seeking re-election, in January since there are no other candidates.
Gazzo, a former Summit town councilman and a regional human resources manager with Autozone, announced his candidacy late last year, weeks ahead of the qualifying period. He said an early start helped put him ahead of the crowded field.
“I would say a combination of coming out early and going door to door throughout District 4 was the main difference,” he said.
He planned to stick with that strategy in order to keep his lead in the runoff, he said.
“I’m going to keep working hard like I always do. I’m going to knock on doors and work my way through this thing,” he said. “I’m going to continue going door to door and try to rally support behind me. I’m going to try to focus on getting their support for the runoff.”
Bass, a longtime plumber from Summit, said the connections he’s made over the years came through for him at the ballot box on Tuesday.
“I’ve got a lot of friends. I’ve got a lot of people I worked for over the years,” he said. “I did beat the bushes some. I did go door to door quite a bit. It’s not easy work.”
Bass said he hopes to pull in more votes from the supporters of the defeated primary candidates going into the runoff.
“You’ve got about 600 votes out there that were between the other candidates,” he said.
Bass noted that voter turnout in runoff elections usually dips down, but he’s hoping a competitive runoff in the sheriff’s race will keep voters interested enough to return to the polls in three weeks — and consider voting for him.
“I’ve just got to get out there and beat the bushes some more,” he said.
In the District 5 Democratic primary, Eddie Simmons avoided a runoff, garnering 549 votes (58 percent) against Thaxter “Pitt” Pittman, who had 238 votes (25 percent), C.J. Upchurch with 87 votes and Fred Klunk with 57. Simmons will face Republican Lee Fortenberry in November.
The winner will replace Gary Honea, who is not seeking re-election.