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Kemp and Raffensperger had come under fire from former President Donald Trump during the 2020 Presidential election. Trump blamed his loss in Georgia on the mishandling of votes. The issue spurred voting reform in Georgia but led Trump to endorse Perdue for the governor’s race and Jody Hice for the Secretary of State Republican primary contest. Many citizens who traditionally voted Democrat seized the opportunity to switch parties in the primary and vote against Trump’s endorsements. Republican balloting outpaced Democrat balloting across the state, and area voters followed this wave (see voting results below).

Two Trump endorsements, Republican Herschel Walker, who is seeking to unseat Democrat Raphael Warnock in a bid for the U.S. Senate, and Republican Burt Jones, who is seeking the Lieutenant Governor’s post, easily won their party nominations statewide. Walker and Warnock will face off, and Jones will face Democrat Kwanza Hall, who won her party’s nomination with 30.14% of the vote.

T-SPLOST Victory

Throughout the 17-county Heart of Georgia Altamaha Region, which includes Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler counties, voters supported the renewal of the 10-year Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) with a yes vote of 62.55%. (See chart accompanying this article for a county-bycounty breakdown of the vote.) The Greater Vidalia Chamber worked with other chambers within the 17-county region to promote the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) of 2010, known locally as TSPLOST.

Chamber President Michele Johnson commented, “T-SPLOST has provided much needed funds to improve our transportation infrastructure. Since the first TSPLOST was implemented in 2012, T-SPLOST projects have provided locally controlled investments in infrastructure projects that have improved safety, reduced congestion, created jobs, and enhanced quality of life across Toombs County and the entire Heart of Georgia Altamaha Region.

“This week’s regional vote to renew the TSPLOST for another 10 years will ensure completion of an additional 580 projects. Now, 71 new projects in Toombs County and 26 new projects in Montgomery County will move forward as a result. The Chamber looks forward to another successful implementation of TSPLOST in our 17-County Heart of Georgia Altamaha Region.”

Montgomery County Upset Montgomery County was the epicenter for election night drama as two incumbent Board of Education members lost their seats to newcomers. In a stunning upset, BOE Chairman Dr. Jim Paul Poole was defeated by John O’Conner. Poole, a former school superintendent who has served on the Board for over 11 years, garnered 38.19% of the vote while O’Conner, a nuclear plant operator, won 61.81% of the balloting.

O’Conner said, 'Going door to door, I was overwhelmed by the encouragement and support that I received. It was evident by the tally that folks were ready for a change. A lot of people were involved in this, but I want to especially thank Martha Jackson, Heather Williams, and my wife, Karen O'Connor. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve and look forward to January.' School Board member Debra Dobbins Gay lost to newcomer Fernando Rodriguez-Pacheco. Gay, a former teacher who has served on the Board for one term, received 45% of the vote while Rodriguez-Pacheco, an operations manager at Bestline industries in Ailey, amassed 55% of the vote. Following his win, Rodriguez-Pacheco said, 'First and foremost, I'd like to thank God, my family, my campaign manager, my friends, and the citizens of Montgomery County. We started this journey last March, when I announced via Facebook that I would run for the Board of Education. It hasn't been an easy road. I had a tough opponent, who has been a lifelong educator with deep roots in Montgomery County; however, many felt it was time for a change. I will always stand by why I ran, and that is putting students and staff first. I will always be available to hear my district and community's concerns. My top priorities are education, safety, and equality. I look forward to this journey and experience.'

Both Board of Education races were closely watched by Montgomery County citizens following the controversial firing of popular School Board Superintendent Hugh Kight in March 18, 2021. The issue divided the Board and stirred up residents who attended subsequent Board sessions to voice their disagreement with the decision to fire Kight.

In the race for Montgomery County Magistrate, incumbent Ashley Thornton fought off her challenger, educator Gloria O’Neal, by acquiring 65.65% of the vote. Thornton said, 'I am humbled by the continued support from the community, and I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Montgomery County as their Magistrate Judge.'

Toombs County

In Toombs County, only one local seat was contested as incumbent Toombs County School Board member Mitch Bellflower faced contender Rahn Milligan. Bellflower, a children’s pastor who has served on the Board for six years, won 76.63% of the vote while Milligan, a resource conservation professional , won 26.75% of the vote.

Bellflower commented, “I want to thank the voters for entrusting me once again to serve the Toombs County School system. I will continue to do my very best to make sure the students, parents and teachers are looked after and to ensure the school system thrives.”

T-SPLOST: Yes, 62.43%.

Breakdown of Area Balloting Results below are from the Secretary of State website as of May 30, with precinct reporting complete. Results are still being certified in some counties. The list below is a partial account; only candidates who amassed the highest number of votes are included. For further information, visit: https://sos. (elections).

Toombs County (3,446 votes cast) State Results

Governor’s Race — Republican, Kemp, 74.36%, 2,558 votes; Republican, Perdue, 19.62%, 675 votes; Democrat, Abrams, unopposed, 100%, 658 votes. U. S. Senate — Republican, Walker, 77.2%, 2,644 votes; Democrat, Warnock, 95.1%, 638 votes.

Lt. Gov. Race — Republican, Burt Jones, 43.69%, 1,401 votes; Democrat, Kwanza Hall, 20.95%, 124 votes. Secretary of State — Republican: Raffensperger, 49.80%, 1,646 votes; Democrat, Michael Owens, 27.78%, 177 votes.

Attorney General — Republican: Chris Carr, 76.63%, 2,492 votes; Democrat, Jennifer Jordan, 68.42%, 416 votes.

Local Results

Toombs County Board of Education, nonpartisan — Mitch Bellflower, 73.25%, 282 votes, Rhan Milligan, 26.75%, 103 votes. T-SPLOST: 62.43%. Montgomery County (1,640 ballots cast) State Results Governor’s Race — Republican, Kemp, 68.98%, 1,125 votes; Republican, Perdue, 23.54%, 384 votes; Democrat, Abrams, unopposed, 100%, 370 votes. U. S. Senate — Republican: Walker, 76.91%, 1,236 votes; Democrat, Warnock, 95.96%, 356 votes. Lt. Gov. Race — Republican, Burt Jones, 47.79%, 723 votes. Democrat, Charlie Bailey, 19.37%, 61 votes. Secretary of State — Republican: Raffensperger, 40.42%, 637 votes; Democrat: Michael Owens, 31.71%, 104 votes.

Attorney General — Republican: Chris Carr, 70.87%, 1,073 votes;


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Democrat, Jennifer Jordan, 71.08% , 231 votes.

Local Results

Montgomery Chief Magistrate, nonpartisan: Gloria O’Neal, 34.35%, 667 votes; Ashley Thornton, incumbent, 65.65%, 1,275 votes.. Montgomery County Board of Education, District 5, nonpartisan: Dr. Jim Paul Poole, incumbent, 38.19%, 173 votes; John O’Conner, 61.81%, 280 votes. Montgomery County Board of Education, District 7, nonpartisan: Debra Dobbins Gay, incumbent, 45% ,198 votes; Fernando Rodriguez-Pacheco, 55%, 242 votes. T-SPLOST: Yes, 66.86%.

Wheeler County (761 ballots cast)

State Results

Governor’s Race — Republican, Kemp, 62.19%, 472 votes; Republican, Perdue, 24.51%, 186 votes; Democrat, Abrams, unopposed, 100%, 223 votes.

U. S. Senate — Republican, Walker, 81.07%, 608 votes; Democrat, Warnock, 95.96%, 356 votes.

Lt. Gov. Race — Republican, Burt Jones, 58.12%, 415 votes; Democrat, Kwanza Hall, 21.35%, 41 votes.

Secretary of State — Republican, Raffensperger, 39.9%, 295 votes; Democrat, votDee Dawkins-Haigler, 26.77%. 53 votes.

Attorney General — Republican, Chris Carr, 70.50%, 509 votes; Democrat, Jennifer Jordan, 70%, 231 votes.

Local Results

T-SPLOST: Yes, 69.45%.

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