Two Calhoun County commissioners appear headed for July 17 runoffs, while two other commission races seemed settled Tuesday night as poll workers tallied votes.
At 10 p.m., with 45 of the of the county’s 46 precincts reporting, District 2 commissioner Tim Hodges had 44 percent of the vote, placing him in a runoff with Danny Shears for the Republican nomination.
“I feel very fortunate,” Shears said Tuesday night. He said in the last few days, he began to expect a runoff.
“It’s evident the vast majority of people in District 2 wanted change,” he said looking at the results.
Chad Brown, who didn’t make the runoff, said he was happy for his opponents.
“Congratulations to both guys,” he said. “They did a great job.”
Hodges said he had hoped to avoid a runoff, but he still feels hopeful.
“I feel I’ll be in good shape,” he said.
District 4 Commissioner J.D. Hess also failed to pass the 50 percent mark, landing him in a runoff with either Joe Dyar or Terry Howell in the Republican primary. With only three votes separating Howell and Dyar, voters may have to wait for the counting of provisional ballots before they know for sure who’ll make the runoff.
“I don’t think Mr. Hess can win in a runoff,” Howell said. “I actually do not think he will be able to win because the votes are divided up between me and Mr. Dyar.”
Like Howell, Dyar also said he thought Hess would lose a runoff no matter who he faced. Dyar said he was unable to guess who that challenger might be.
“I just have to wait and see the final tally,” Dyar said.
For his part, the incumbent said he always expected Howell to finish in second with or without a runoff.
“We’ll just gear up,” Hess said. I’ve had a runoff before so it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve ever done it.”
In District 1, incumbent Commissioner Fred Wilson won outright with 52 percent of the vote, defeating David Reddick and James Montgomery in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Wilson said late Tuesday that he didn’t want to comment until the final few ballots were counted. Attempts to reach him later, after all but provisional ballots were in, were unsuccessful.
Reddick, who’s currently on the Anniston City Council, said he hopes the primary challenge motiviates Wilson to do more for his district.
“The reason I ran was because Wilson wasn’t doing anything for his constituents,” he said. “All we want is his support. If you support us, we’ll support you. If not, then there’ll be an opponent every time. That’s the message.”
Montgomery said both of his opponents ran a good race and he’s proud of them.
“The people have spoken,” he said. “So, we have to go with what the people want.”
Former Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson won back his old job Tuesday.
Henderson beat his opponent, Scott Martin, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent, in a bid for the commission’s District 3 seat.
Martin, who lost by a total of 48 votes, is Ohatchee High School’s athletic director and head football coach.
Henderson, who also previously served as Calhoun County circuit clerk, said before polls closed that he felt confident he would win the race.
“It was a lot closer than I thought it would be,” Henderson said. “I’ve never seen so much money spent in county commission races.”
Henderson said he was happy that he won back his old job. “I love being a county commissioner,” Henderson said. “I feel blessed.”
Asked if he has a message for the nearly 50 percent of the district that voted for his opponent, Henderson laughed.
“Tell them I’ve been in politics a long time,” he said, “and I forgive them.”
Scott Martin said that although he is upset with the outcome, the people of the district have spoken.
“I had hoped that the people of the district would choose to move forward and not get stuck with the same leadership that’s been here for years,” Martin said.
In all four races, the winner of the primary or runoff is likely to win a term on the County Commission. There are no Republican candidates in District 1, no Democratic candidates in the other three districts, and no independent candidates qualified as of Tuesday afternoon.
Sheniece Chappell, Lee Hedgepeth, Allsion Preslar and Tyler Waldrep provided reporting for this story written by Tim Lockette.