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Derry, Lovins win board seats

Greg Derry and Dexter Lovins are the newest elected members on the school board in McDuffie County.

The two men, both of whom were first-time political candidates, defeated their challengers in Tuesday's special runoff election.

A total of 4,546 voters, or 33.1 percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the runoff election. Those figures reflected advanced voting and early voting, according to McDuffie County Elections Director Phyllis Wheeler.

Mr. Derry, a local insurance agent, turned back Frank Locklear for the District 5 BOE seat. Mr. Derry garnered a total of 649 votes to Mr. Locklear's 382 votes. Ms. Wheeler said the elections figures are all unofficial until they are certified locally and by state officials.

"It's satisfying to see the realization of a goal," Mr. Derry told The McDuffie Mirror after being congratulated on his victory by Mr. Locklear, a local real estate agent.

Mr. Derry called his race against Mr. Locklear "refreshing" because the two men didn't run negative campaigns.

"It was a very friendly, cordial race between the two of us," Mr. Derry said, noting that he appreciated all the support that he received in both the General Election, as well as the runoff election.

Mr. Locklear, meanwhile, said running for elected office was "a great experience. It's what the American fabric is made of."

He added that he will support Mr. Derry on the school board and leaves open the idea of running for political office again someday.

Mr. Derry pointed out that his first priority will be to try and establish a good working relationship with other school board members when he takes office in January.

At the forefront of changes, Mr. Derry said he plans to seek changes in meeting times for school board work sessions and policy adoption meetings.

Mr. Derry waged his strength with supporters at the Salem Road Precinct, where he tabulated 317 votes to Mr. Locklear's 145. In the Shriners Club Precinct, the race between the two men was much closer. Again, however, Mr. Derry was the winner, collecting 59 votes to Mr. Locklear's 51 votes.

In the District 6 school board race, Mr. Lovins, a local mobile home salesman, captured 573 votes to Mr. Strouble's 404 votes.

The big difference in that particular race turned out to be the support that Mr. Lovins received from the Dearing precinct - the last precinct to come in at the McDuffie County Elections Office on Tuesday night. Mr. Lovins received 329 votes in that precinct to Mr. Strouble's 205 votes.

In two other precincts involving that runoff race, the figures were much closer. Mr. Lovins managed to defeat Mr. Strouble by only four votes, 54-50 in the Fort Creek precinct. Mr. Strouble, a retired principal with the McDuffie County school system, meanwhile, defeated Mr. Lovins 39-27 in votes in the White Oak precinct. Mr. Strouble lives in that particular precinct.

Mr. Lovins expressed gratitude to his wife, friends and voters after winning the election.

"I want to express my appreciation to the good Lord, my wife, the voters and my supporters for this victory," Mr. Lovins said. "Without them, I couldn't have done it."

He also expressed deep appreciation to Lindy Tudor, who missed getting into the runoff election by less than 50 votes. Mr. Tudor urged the supporters he had in the general election to cast their support for Mr. Lovins in the runoff election.

"Lindy's help and support was very, very vital to me in this election and I sincerely appreciated it," Mr. Lovins said.

Mr. Lovins said he plans to establish better communication between school system officials in the central office and classroom teachers after he becomes officially sworn into office in January.

"I think communication is lacking in some areas between those two groups right now," Mr. Lovins said.

Mr. Strouble was congratulated by both Mr. Lovins and Julianne Lovins for running a good race. He told Mrs. Lovins that he is looking forward to working with her husband and other school board members in the future.

As for his own campaign, Mr. Strouble said, "I want to thank all the folks who voted for me, who worked for me and made phone calls for me. It was a great experience. I'm not going anywhere, because I've still got an interest in the school system."

Web posted on Thursday, December 04, 2008

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