Jackson gets entirely Democratic Commissioner Board

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Democrats swept the Jackson County Board of Commissioners as voters elected Cashiers’ Mark Jones over Republican challenger Geoff Higginbotham to fill the one remaining seat.


Jones narrowly took the Cashiers precinct with 249 votes to Higginbotham’s 226. Overall Jones won 6,609 to 3,769.

“I’d like to thank everybody who came out and voted on the One Stop and on this wet, cool, damp day,” Jones said.

But while voters battled rains ranging from a light drizzle during the day to heavy downpours after work, the weather seemed to have little effect on the county’s overall turnout, which poll workers pegged at near 50 percent.

Jones, general manager at High Hampton, said that before taking office he plans to get the hotel and golf course shut down for the season, take a small vacation and come back ready to get started.

“I believe I’ll get a little bit more involved with some of the projects the commissioners have on the table,” Jones said.

The race was the commissioners’ only contested race, as the four other board seats were decided during the May primary elections. The primaries pitted 12 Democratic candidates against one another for four seats. At that time Jones beat out Nathan Moss, which earned him the distinction of running the election’s only race against a Republican come Nov. 7. District 3 incumbent Joe Cowan won re-election against Darrell Fox, Tom Massie took District 2, and William Shelton District 1. Board chairman Brian McMahan was unopposed.

As primary results came in precinct by precinct in May, Jones and Shelton battled to become the election’s highest vote-getter. In the end, it was Shelton with 2,337 votes.

Cowan, Massie, McMahan and Shelton were uncontested in the general election; however, each appeared on the ballot alongside Jones and Higginbotham. The number of votes each candidate received determined which candidates would be elected to two four-year and two two-year terms. McMahan, as board chairman, automatically will serve a four-year term.

Early voting results from One Stop and absentee ballots indicated Shelton again was poised to come in as the top vote-getter, narrowly edging out Massie 2,551 to 2,540. Cowan had 2,449 and Jones 2,377.

Shelton and Massie were neck and neck throughout the evening as results from the county’s 18 precincts rolled in. The two secured the two four-year terms, Shelton bringing in a total of 7,310 votes, Massie 7,238 votes. Cowan and Jones took the two two-year terms. Cowan had a total of 6,986 votes while Jones mustered 6,609 votes. McMahan had 7,208 votes.

With the election, voters in Jackson County have ushered in a new board of commissioners committed to addressing the county’s growth issues.

“I think Jackson County will probably have several ordinances developed that will focus on growth management that will be fairly quick to come in the new term,” McMahan said.

In related election news, register of deeds Joe Hamilton beat unaffiliated challenger Shirley Crowe 7,047 to 2,211.

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