By DOTTY NIST
Republican candidates William “Boots” McCormick and Mike Barker will take office in November as county commissioners for District 1 and District 3, respectively.
This was among the results of the Aug. 18 2020 Primary Election.
Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) District 5 incumbent Tony Anderson (Republican) prevailed over his opponents in the primary and will face Democratic challenger Carolynn Zonia in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election.
The District 1 and District 3 BCC seats were to be vacated in November, as incumbents Bill Chapman and Melanie Nipper opted not to run for re-election.
McCormick, a fourth-generation Walton County resident and retired deputy sheriff, had served on the Freeport City Council from July 2017 until his resignation from the council in June 2020 to run for the BCC District 1 seat. He won the BCC District 1 race by 53 votes, getting 40.21 percent of the vote.
Two other Republicans were on the ballot for the District 1 seat. Lisa Johnson was close runner-up to McCormick with 39.83 percent of the vote. Philip Cryar got 19.96 percent.
Facing fellow Republican Teddy Stewart in the primary, Mike Barker won the District 3 BCC seat by 1,158 votes and got 54.24 percent of the vote. Like McCormick, Barker is a life-long Walton County resident and former law enforcement officer. Among other job experience, Barker also previously worked as emergency management director for Walton County.
Serving in the District 5 BCC seat since 2016, Tony Anderson faced two Republican challengers in the Aug. 18 primary, Debbie Heard and Vanessa Goodson. Anderson won the primary contest with 53.57 percent of the vote. Heard got 30.95 percent and Goodson 15.48 percent. The result is that Anderson will be the Republican facing Democrat Carolynn Zonia in the general election.
In a universal primary contest, voters chose Gary Gregor to become the new Walton County property appraiser. Gregor got 52.33 percent of the vote, with his opponent Sandra Reddick Carter receiving 47.67 percent. Both candidates in the race were Republicans, and universal primary outcome determined that Gregor will take the office. Current Walton County Property Appraiser Patrick Pilcher did not run for re-election.
Also decided in the primary was the contested District 4 Walton County School Board (WCSB) seat. In this nonpartisan race, retired teacher and principal Jeri Michie prevailed with 57.19 percent of the vote. The other candidate in the race, WCSB District 4 incumbent Marsha Winegarner, got 42.81 percent.
An Aug. 22 machine recount was conducted by Walton County Supervisor of Elections Bobby Beasley. The recount was required by law due to the percentage difference between the two leading candidates for the District 1 BCC contest (0.38 percent) being 0.50 percent or less. Beasley’s office reported no change in the vote totals resulting from the recount.
After the election, Boots McCormick reached out to Walton County voters on social media, writing, in part, “First thing is, I’m very humbled by the vote of confidence I received from the people of Walton County…It was a close race but your message was clear. We the citizens of Walton County are smart hard working people that have the ability to think for ourselves and make the choices that are right for our county…I will be the Commissioner I promised the citizens I would be. Your voice, in your Government.”
Mike Barker said in a comment provided to the Herald/Breeze, “I am proud and honored to be chosen by Walton County citizens to be the next County Commissioner for District 3. I am looking forward to working with current and new Commissioners on the board. I have been talking with citizens county wide for a long time about their needs, ideas and visions for our county. When I take office I plan on starting to work on them immediately. I will represent the citizens, and stand up for them. We have a lot of work to do, and I am ready for it.”
“The challenging journey of campaigning during a world pandemic, has come to an end,” said Jeri Michie. “I am deeply grateful and humbled by my election to the Walton County School Board. Honor and praise to the Lord for His blessings and provisions along this journey. Much thanks to Bobby Beasley, Supervisor of Elections, and the team of election workers who made voting by mail, early voting and election day voting, safe, easy and seamless. To the Walton County voters who chose to honor the privilege to vote, thank you. To the voters who voted for me, I am humbled by your trust and support. To those who did not, I promise to do my best to earn your trust to make #onewalton a reality and to be faithful to serve all of our children and county over the next four years. Deep felt thanks to my husband, Scott, for being my rock and faithful partner and to my sons Brian and Bradley and their families, thank-you. And to my many friends, neighbors, who worked for my election and to the Walton County voters, I am honored to be your representative and will work faithfully to be a positive force for all of our children and schools. I look forward to joining Superintendent, Russell Hughes and the School Board team and working together for all of Walton County.”
Gary Gregor commented, “I would like to take this moment to express my extreme gratitude. First, to the good Lord above for all the blessings that he has provided for me and my family. My wife and kids for their unconditional support, love and sacrifice they have made the last couple months. To other family members and friends that have help us through this campaign, either by donations, helping with the kids or words of encouragement, all were greatly necessary and beneficial to this campaign. Friends willing to display their support on their vehicles, posting signs up on their property or volunteering to help. Local businesses for monetary support and displaying their support. Local restaurants for letting me display brochures in their establishments. Many current and retired public servants that provided many other contacts for support/advice and helped me spread my information during this time. To the voters of Walton County, I cannot express in words how thankful and honored I am to each and everyone one of you. I do promise to do the best job that I can, be open and willing to work with you and provide the best service possible to the citizens of Walton County.”
Voter turnout in the 2020 primary was calculated at 25.87 percent, with a total of 14,261 ballots cast. Election day ballots cast numbered 6,112, with 3,252 ballots submitted in early voting and 4,897 by mail.
Election results were certified as official by the Walton County Canvassing Board on Aug. 24.