With 38 of 39 boxes reporting Tuesday, three candidates for the seat finished the Republican primary within 5 percentage points and 700 votes of one another. In the race for commissioner in District 4, incumbent Jimmy Roberts finished second, with 3,397 votes (28.29 percent).
First place was challenger Charles Isbell, who tallied 3,964 votes (33.01 percent). In a close third, Beverly Owen Barber received 3,263 votes (27.17 percent).
“I’m pleased with the outcome, and thankful for all the support I’ve got from the citizens of St. Clair County,” Isbell said. “The people that have worked for me, I’m extremely proud of them. They’ve worked extremely hard, and every one of them has been dedicated to try to win this.
“We sat down and committed ourselves and didn’t have a lot of money to work with. We had to manage our funds very closely. I’m just grateful to the citizens and my supporters in the county.”
The result means Roberts and Isbell will be matched in a runoff, to take place in April 24.
“I am glad to be in a runoff with Mr. Isbell,” Roberts said. “I appreciate all of my supporters and hope they will return to the polls and vote for me during the runoff.”
Barber praised her supporters for the close finish.
“Through the years, I have seen so many close elections,” Barber said. “I was so hoping that this election would not come down to this, where I needed to work just one more day.”
The county’s other close race came in the Board of Education election. Incumbent John DeGaris narrowly retained the Place 2 seat on the board, with 5,091 votes (52.89 percent), which was just enough to defeat challenger Denise Platt, who received 4,534 votes (47.11 percent).
“I’m honored and I am real humbled,” DeGaris said. “Denise Platt got her supporters out and beat the bushes. I perhaps could have been too complacent and some of the campaign devices I used may not have been too effective.”
District Judge Alan Furr, appointed to the post in the fall of 2011, won his first race by a comfortable margin over challenger Laurie Henderson. Furr tallied more than 62 percent of the vote.
“I praise the Lord for that victory,“ Furr said. “I am just so thankful to so many people who worked so diligently throughout the county to make this possible.
“I certainly want to thank the voters of St. Clair County for their vote of confidence. I am truly humbled by the show of support and will diligently work to fulfill the obligations of the office in which I am now elected.”
Commissioner Paul Manning also retained his seat in District 3, earning more than 72 percent of the vote against challenger Roland St. John.
“I am very sentimental,” Manning said. “After 35 years, I carried this county with 73-plus percent of the votes and varied every prescient, and I did this from a wheelchair.
“It was 39 years ago this past Sunday that I was paralyzed, and I am very pleased with my wife, Marie, and my family for all of their support through the years. I am appreciative with all my supporters and all my family supporters.
“The occasion in my life is very sentimental due to the fact that I have lost several close friends during the past few weeks and couple of months. A few days ago, I was considering not ever running again, but after seeing the huge support that I had tonight, I do believe I will run again in four years.”
BOE at-large member Angie Cobb also retained her seat, with more than 62 percent of the vote against challenger Greg Mashburn.
“I want to thank all the voters of St. Clair County who voted for me,” Cobb said. “I feel very blessed, and I am so thankful to my family and friends.”
Nearly 15,000 voters turned out for the election Tuesday, and nearly 97 percent of them cast Republican ballots; no candidate qualified to run locally as a Democrat. In the highest profile race of the day, more than 37 percent of St. Clair County voters cast their ballot for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who carried the state. Newt Gingrich finished second, with just over 33 percent.
In the state’s closest election, nearly 60 percent of county voters chose Roy Moore in the race for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the state of Alabama. At press time, it was not known whether Moore and second-place finisher Charlie Graddick will be on the ballot in the April runoff.
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