Published Wednesday, November 07, 2012
By W. WINSTON SKINNER and SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Most Coweta County races were decided in the Republican Primary this summer, but the two open races on local ballots were won by Democrats on Tuesday.
Incumbent Al Smith was re-elected to a second term to the Coweta County Commission District 5 seat. Smith's district is centered on downtown Newnan.
Carl Von Epps, a state representative for 20 years, was re-elected in a heated race for House District 132 that ended with him just 1,200 votes ahead of Republican challenger Gene King.
Smith attended a Coweta County Commission meeting Tuesday evening and then gathered with fellow Democrats at the party headquarters on Madison Street. "I'm relieved. I can breathe," he said shortly before 11 p.m., when the results showed him winning the race 3,452 votes to 2,724 for his youthful Republican challenger Hayden Marlowe.
"It was a close race, even if I was an incumbent and my opponent was on his first time in politics," Smith said.
Smith noted it often takes several attempts for a candidate to win public office and said Marlowe "got a good start." Marlowe received "more votes than I ever thought he would," Smith said.
Epps, a Troup County businessman and pastor of a Coweta County church, represents District 132, which includes precincts in Coweta, Troup and Meriwether counties. King is a resident in Meriwether.
"I'm privileged and honored by the confidence of the voters of the 132nd district," Epps said Tuesday night.
Epps noted the district is "pretty balanced" with "a pretty good split of Republicans and Democrats." In such districts, there are almost always going to be challengers in each election.
He and King faced off four years ago and again Tuesday. The vote at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night across the district with all three counties reporting was 8,256 for Epps and 7,081 for King.
King carried Coweta County with 2,753 votes to Epps' 2,124. King also got the most votes in Meriwether County – 1,575 to 1,506 for Epps.
The Troup vote, however, was 4,626 for Epps and only 2,753 for King.
Epps said that in a district like the 132nd, a representative needs to "try to represent everybody if you can." He added, "I try to be a moderate representative… to be accountable to the constituents."
King had an election night gathering in Grantville. Andy Emmitt took his wife, Nicole, and sons, Walker, 6, and Nash, 3, to the event to meet King.
Emmitt said Walker had been "really into the election" and had asked lots of questions about voting and the process.
"I thought it would be quite an opportunity for my sons – for my family – to meet someone you actually voted for," Emmitt said. "Only in America could you do that."
Emmitt said he felt taking his family to the campaign event was "the American thing to do," although his sons were a bit disappointed in the election night gathering that had been described to them as a party. "There were no ponies or clowns," Emmitt noted.
A total of 55,774 of Coweta's 73,888 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday – a turnout of 75.48 percent. The Tuesday vote totals do not include military ballots or provisional ballots, which should be totaled by the end of the week.
Things went pretty well throughout the day, with no major problems reported, said Jane Scoggins, Coweta elections superintendent.
"It seemed like there were people at every precinct, all day," Scoggins said. The busiest time was when the polls first opened. There were long lines at a few precincts, including Jefferson Parkway, Cedar Creek, Thomas Crossroads and Arts Center, said Scoggins.
Lots of voters were lined up before the polling places opened, and it took a while to work through all of those, she said.
"At every precinct, there was somebody in line early," she said. Scoggins said poll workers at one precinct reported someone in line at 5 a.m.
But for the most part, voters were only having to wait about 10 minutes, she said. Some precincts experienced long lines toward the end of the day, as well. But at many precincts, there were no lines at all.
There were a few minor issues, but there almost always are.
"We had Express Polls go down in some places.They get out of sync," she said. Elections officials would visit the polling place and fix the issue if it couldn't be fixed by the workers at the precinct. Poll workers could work around those issues, which slowed the process down.
Elections workers were busy counting paper absentee ballots early in the day. Ballots had to be in the voter registration office by 7 p.m. to count. The postmaster at the Newnan post office hand-delivered ballots up until 7 p.m., Scoggins said.
"Ordinarily, we don't get anything but what people hand-deliver after 5," Scoggins said, "but up until 7, she hand-delivered."