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Wood wins District 2 race; Reece re-elected

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Martin holds on to District 4 seat with razor-thin margin

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    John Wood at the Government Center Nov. 3, waiting for election results. DEBBIE LURIE-SMITH/Staff
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    Elections Superintendent Marion Hatton watches tabulation of Early Voting results, which were the first returns of Nov. 3. DEBBIE LURIE-SMITH/Staff
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    Commission District 2 candidate Jan Andrews waits for results. Andrews led in the count until absentee ballot totals were added. DEBBIE LURIE-SMITH/Staff

As the nation watched the drama of the presidential election, Jones County was not without its own drama on Election Day.

After all the votes were counted in the Nov. 3 election, one incumbent Jones County Commissioner was unseated and another narrowly escaped defeat.

Incumbent Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece, Republican, won reelection by a healthy margin, defeating his democratic challenger Louis Pounds. Reece received 10,792 votes, or 73 percent, to Pounds’ total of 3,949.

In an after election interview, Reece said he is proud to serve Jones County.

“I’ve been blessed, and I will continue to work hard to make Jones County the great place to live in it is,” he said.

The sheriff went on to express his desire for unity.

“I hope we can all work together to keep Jones County the way we love it,” he added.

District 2 Commissioner Jonathan Pitts, Democrat, lost his bid for re-election. He was defeated by Republican challenger John Wood 1,709 to 1,522. Wood captured 53 percent of the vote to Pitts’ 47 percent.

Pitts, who served two terms as a was gracious in a statement after his loss.

“It has been an honor and pleasure serving the wonderful people of District 2 and Jones County,” he said. “I’m excited about what God has in store for me next, and I encourage everyone to pray and support John as he begins his journey as our county commissioner.”

Wood began his remarks by thanking everyone who supported him.

“And I look forward to gaining the support of those who didn’t. I will work for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they live,” he said.

This election was Wood’s second attempt at becoming the District 2 commissioner. He ran against Pitts in 2016 and lost by 22 votes. The commissioner-elect said his takeaway from that narrow defeat was to never take anything for granted.

“I strived to work harder,” he said.

Wood said he looks forward to sitting down with the rest of the commissioners and getting to work

“I plan to pick up the torch moving forward,” he said. “The people have spoken, and I look forward to serving everyone.”

District 4 incumbent Commissioner Daylon Martin, Democrat, retained his seat with a razor-thin margin reminiscent of the 2016 contest between Pitts and Wood. Martin defeated Republican challenger Jan Andrews by 23 votes, 1,510 to 1,487.

At the conclusion of counting the Election Day and Early Voting ballots Nov. 3, Andrews was in the lead, 1,237 to Martin’s 1,040. Those were the totals announced by a local broadcast media station, which created confusion as to the winner of the District 4 Commissioner’s contest.

It was after midnight when the mail-in absentee ballots were added to the voting totals and kept Martin in office for another four years. Martin received 512, or 66 percent, of those 778 absentee ballots, which seemed to be the same scenario that took place for democratic candidates nationwide.

Reece was the only one of Jones County’s constitutional officers opposed. Districts 2 and 4 were the only contested commissioner seats in the Nov. 3 election, although Wendy Vaughn, Republican, will become the new District 3 commissioner in January.

Vaughn qualified in the primary but did not have a Democratic challenger. She will replace Commissioner Tommy Robinson, who opted not to qualify to run for reelection.

Election overview

Seventy-two percent of Jones County’s registered voters cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 Presidential Election. Jones County has 20,958 registered voters and they had three different ways to vote in this election.

Due to the pandemic, Jones County as other counties across the nation had a record number of voters, 3,002, opting to vote by mail-in absentee ballots. Another option was Early Voting and 8,092 electors cast their ballots during the three-week period leading up to the Nov. 3 Election Day.

The remainder of Jones County voters, 3,927, came to one of Jones County’s 10 precincts and voted on Nov. 3. Adding up all three of those options, Jones County voters numbered 15,021.

A large majority of Jones County voters their ballots for Donald Trump. The president received 9,960 votes to now president-elect Joe Biden’s 4,884 votes. Not all Jones County precincts, however, went for Trump. Voters in the Hawkins precinct, located in Fire Station 8, voted 1,375 for Biden and 868 for Trump.

Also notable, those casting ballots in person Nov. 3 voted overwhelmingly for Trump, 3,203 to 841 for Biden. The early voting numbers were also strong for Trump at 5,666 to 2,356 for Biden.

In contrast, the absentee by mail vote mirrored the results in much of the country with Biden getting the majority of the votes 1,687 to Trump’s 1,271.