The McDuffie County Board of Education will see a couple of new faces in the coming year. During Tuesday's elections, one incumbent held on to a seat while another fell to a political newcomer.
In the Single District 7 race, Rick McCorkle defeated incumbent board member Mike Love with 53.8 percent of the vote (814 votes) to Mr. Love's 46.2 percent (699 votes).
Mr. McCorkle - watching the returns at the McDuffie County Courthouse with his family - approached Mr. Love after seeing the final count displayed and shook his hand.
"I'm honored. I'm grateful to the people that voted for me," Mr. McCorkle told The Mirror. "I look forward to working for those that had enough confidence in me to vote for me."
In the BOE Super District 1 race, incumbent Georgia Hobbs handily won over Kenneth McNeal, claiming 82.66 percent (1292 votes) to Mr. McNeal's 17.15 percent (268 votes).
"Well, I'm just happy the voters were confident enough in my ability that they voted me in to finish the job that I started," Mrs. Hobbs said after hearing the results.
Rev. Ella Mae Samuels defeated Alphonzo Donnie McNair in the District 3 race for the seat vacated by Louise Burgess when her term expired. Rev. Samuels received 60.7 percent (471 votes) while Mr. McNair claimed 39.05 percent (303 votes).
Mrs. Hobbs and Rev. Samuels were waiting together with their supporters at the RSC building on the corner of Deans Avenue and Martin Luther King Street.
"I am excited. I am really, really excited," Rev. Samuels said. "But I am also humbled as well. It's been a long day. All day long, I felt like it was Christmas Eve, and I was waiting for Christmas to come."
The closest race that had contestants waiting for the more than 450 absentee ballots to be counted, though, was the District 7 race. Mr. Love was trailing his opponent by only 93 votes at the time.
"I didn't know it'd be this close," Mr. Love said as they waited. "I knew it'd be close, but I didn't think it'd be this close. But (Mr. McCorkle) is well known. So, I haven't given up yet."
Mr. Love said he had worked the polls all day long in the rain, standing on the side of the road "until 6 o'clock when you couldn't see me any more." After the two learned the results and shook hands, Mr. Love had some kind words about his opponent.
"They've got a good one," Mr. Love said. "Rick will fight for the children. Children and teachers are what it's all about."
Mr. McCorkle said now that the election is over, his main goals are to get parents more involved and to help curb the dropout rate.
"I think we've got excellent teachers. I feel like we've got a good system in place. There's not a whole lot to tweak, but we can do better," he said.
Voters turned out in droves to cast ballots even in the rain, said Elections Superintendent Phyllis Wheeler. She said 41 percent of registered McDuffie County voters cast ballots, adding that because interest was up, turnout was high for a midterm election.
"I was really surprised, but I'm also excited and happy that so many people did turn out. Despite the weather, we still had a really good turn out," Ms. Wheeler said.
In other races, Sammie Wilson and Fred Favors were reelected to the County Commission. Both ran unopposed. Also, State Sen. Jim Whitehead and State Rep. Sistie Hudson both ran unopposed.