The campaign for Effingham County commission’s District 2 seat — and the passing of her mother — behind her, Vera Jones is anxiously awaiting a few days off.
Jones captured 507 votes in the Republican runoff Tuesday, 96 more than opponent Michael King. With no Democrats running, Tuesday’s victory essentially gives the seat to the former Effingham County Board of Education chairperson.
“I am so glad. The only person more glad is my husband,” she said. “I want to thank the voters. I really appreciate them.”
Jones said once she returned to the campaign trail after her mother’s funeral, she had plenty of support. She also worked the traditional and new-era campaign avenues — she sent a “friend” request to every voter in District 2 on Facebook.
“I wound up with 1,813 friends,” she said. “I did work very hard with every media I knew to work. I called every voter.”
King, a former Rincon City Council member, said he had no regrets about his campaign.
“We ran a good, clean, fact-based campaign,” he said. “We did the best that we could do. It was up to the people to show up and vote. I thought the primary voter turnout was better than it had been in the past. I just wish we could have gotten all those folks back out for the runoff.”
King also would have liked an opportunity to go head-to-head against Jones on the issues.
“I wish we would have had more opportunities for people to hear our stances on the issues and where we actually differ,” he said. “I told them the best ideas I had and told them the truth.
“I think what people are really looking for is some leadership,” he said. “We all know government doesn’t create jobs. They can create an environment conducive to job growth. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle spoke to that when he was here last week.”
Both candidates noted that the far-flung district — it stretches from north of Guyton to the Effingham-Chatham county line — has widely different interests and concerns. Jones had represented District 5 on the board of education before moving to District 2 and giving up that seat.
“This was completely different. This was much harder,” she said of this election. “I knew more people in District 5. It was more heavily Republican. This is the most spread out district. We have a wide variety of constituents wants.”
In his talks with voters, King found voters in the southern end of District 2 were less concerned about the Effingham Hospital modernization plans as those in the northern end of the district.
“The priorities of the south end of District 2 vs. the north end are different,” he said.
Jones said she found some common themes among the voters in the district, particularly property taxes, jobs and quality of life.
“They want more services,” she said. “We need to increase our recreational possibilities. We need a movie theater. We need a bowling alley.”
But one of the problems, Jones remarked, is the county is pricing itself out of the market for industrial and commercial growth and is losing out on the sales tax proceeds that would result.
King plans to stay involved in politics and community activities. He said he will remain active in the Effingham Chamber of Commerce’s governmental affairs committee and intends to push for the passage of the next round of the special local option sales taxes and the E-SPLOST.
“Those are great mechanisms to pay for capital improvements. I think it will be great for the county to pass both of those,” he said. “I intend to stay active and do what I can to better the community.”
Jones said she has a bookcase full of research material at home that she’s plundered through in preparation for the campaign and she’ll be ready with as many ideas as she can when she takes office in January.
“We have some big needs, and we have to have the solutions,” she said. “I am going to do my very best to where we can work together.”