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Hartselle Enquirer

Candidates: Voter turnout key in runoff election

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
All four of the local candidates who are involved in the runoff election on July 18 agree that the key to their success is getting voters to go back to the polls to vote.
"That's not easy to do," said Ken Livingston, who is challenging incumbent Richard Lyons in a race for the Republican nomination for Morgan County Commission – District 2. "Historically, 25 percent of the people who vote in a primary election don't go back to the polls for a runoff. Plus, the only other local race to be decided is Superintendent of Education and Hartselle and Decatur voters won't vote in it."
Lyons, the incumbent, out-polled two candidates in the primary with 5,798 votes, or 42.2 percent. Livingston came in second with 5,081 votes, or 37 percent, while James Ray Bowling finished third with 2,842 votes, or 20 percent.
The winner will face Ronnie Shipley, the Democratic nominee, in the November general election. He was unopposed in the primary.
The superintendent runoff pits Robert (Bob) Balch against Guy Bowling for the Republican nomination. Balch led four other candidates in the primary with 2,265 votes, or 33.1 percent. Bowling came in second with 1,560 votes, or 22.8 percent. Finishing third was Vicki Pierce Smith with 1,328 votes, or 19.4 percent.
"I'll be hitting the ground running for the next few weeks," Livingston said. "I know I've got some ground to make up but I feel like my chances of winning are good. "A majority of the voters in the primary either supported me or Mr. Bowling and only about 45 per cent of the electorate voted. That leaves 55 per cent, or a majority of the total, who didn't vote. My first priority will be to get the voters who supported me in the primary back to the polls."
"I look at the runoff as being a new election," said Lyons. "You have to start from scratch and you can't take anything for granted. I'm counting on those who supported me in the primary to go back and vote and hope to gain more support in Hartselle and other voting centers where I didn't get as many votes as I had hoped for."
Bowling said he welcomes having six weeks instead of three to promote his candidacy for superintendent.
"I didn't get to campaign as much as I wanted prior to the primary because I had a school to run," the Priceville High School principal said. "Now that school is out I'll have more time to get out and meet people and share with them my passion for education and vision for the Morgan County school system.
"I think it's critically important for voters to go back to the polls and vote in the runoff," said Balch, a former coach and a teacher at Brewer High School. "The outcome will have a lot to do with county government and the Morgan County school system for the next four years.
We've got dedicated, hard workers and we'll focus our attention on maintaining contact with our supporters and working hard in precincts where our opponents did well in the primary," he added.
Other Republican Party runoffs are: Luther Strange and George Wallace Jr. for lieutenant governor; John Amari and Perry O. Hooper Jr. for public service commission; Wes Allen and Samantha Shaw for state auditor; Clay Crenshaw and Sam Welch or Beth Kellum for criminal appeals court – Place 3; and Terri W. Thomas and Phillip Wood for civil appeals court – Place 3.
There are no Democratic Party runoffs affecting Morgan County.