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Tax Commissioner and State Court Judge races head to June 18 runoff
Damon Rahn wins County Commission Chair
Voter art

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

Effingham County voters turned out Tuesday, May 21, for a much-anticipated primary election. Up for grabs were a number of county commission, county office, and school board seats; in addition to a number of judicial seats.

One of the tightest races is for tax commissioner where Kelly Hoffner received 2,630 (43.9%) and Daniel Rodewolt was close behind with 2,552 (42.6%). Since neither candidate secured 50% of the votes, there will be a runoff on June 18. Tony Sapp received 804 (13%) of the vote.

The other race that resulted in a runoff is for state court judge. Incumbent Stephen R. Yekel (2,986 votes, 42.2%) will face off against Melissa Calhoun (2,066 votes, 29.1%). Calhoun narrowly edged Raymond Dickey who garnered 2,025 votes (28.6%).

The County Commission Chairman race was close all evening while the votes were being tallied. Damon Rahn gathered 3,103 votes (51.7%) to Alex Long’s 2,890 votes (48.2%).

In County Commission District 1, incumbent Frank Forrest Floyd was challenged by Alfred Bryant and Wallace Thomas. Floyd garnered 580 votes (52%) to retain his seat.

The open County Commission District 4 seat previously held by Reginald Loper, was won by Beth Helmly, who received 630 votes (56.4%). Her closest challenger was Craig Johnson, who received 217 votes (19.4%).

Even though there weren’t high profile positions such as U.S. senator or governor’s race, the local elections are still important in setting policies and managing growth of the area into the future.

In the race for the US House seat in Dist. 12, Republican incumbent Rick W. Allen, who ran unopposed, will face the Democrat winner, Elizabeth Johnson in November. Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter will face Democratic challenger Patti Hewitt in the November General Election. Both Carter and Hewitt ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

According to the Effingham County Elections website, 2,353 residents voted early in person; and 203 by absentee ballot. Turn out on Election Day saw 4,878 Effingham County voters. Total votes cast in the county were 7,434 or just over 16%.

Here are the races and the results.

Democrat races

US House Dist. 1                              

Patti Hewitt                             505 (100%)                


US House Dist. 12

Daniel “DJ” Jackson               112 (35.1%)   

Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson         207 (64.8%)   


Republican races

US House Dist. 1

Earl L. “Buddy” Carter           3,622 (100%)             

US House Dist. 12

Rick W. Allen                          2,058 (100%)                         

State Senate Dist. 4

Billy Hickman                         5,536 (100%)             

State House Rep Dist. 159

Jon G. Burns                           3,253 (100%)             

State House Rep. Dist. 161

Bill Hitchens                           2,350 (100%)             

District Attorney, Ogeechee Circuit

Robert Busbee                                   3,249 (55%)                                               

Daphne J. Totten (incumb.)           2,651 (44.9%)


Clerk of Superior Court

Jason Bragg (incumb.)            2,946 (48.5%)            

Walt Lawson                          3,123 (51.4%)            



Jimmy McDuffie (unopp.)      5,776 (100%)             


Tax Commissioner (open seat)

Kelly Hoffner                          2,630 (43.9%) -- runoff 

Daniel Rodewolt                     2,552 (42.6%) -- runoff

Tony Sapp                                   804 (13%)              



David Exley (unopp.)             5,600 (100%)             


County Commission Chair

Alex Long                               2,890 (48.2%).           

Damon Rahn                         3,103 (51.7%)            


County Commissioner Dist. 1

Alfred Bryant                          155 (13.9%)               

Frank Forrest Floyd (inc.) 580 (52%)            

Wallace Thomas                     380 (34%)                  


County Commission Dist. 4

James Gerbasi                         101 (9%)                    

Beth Helmly                           630 (56.4%)              

Craig Johnson                         217 (19.4%)               

Jeremiah Still                          94  (8%)         

Scott Varnadore                      74 (6%)                      


Contested Nonpartisan races

Justice Supreme Court

John Barrow                            2,984 (42.9%)            

Andrew Pinson (inc.)            3,969  (57%)            


Court of Appeals Judge

(Open -- M. Yvette Miller's seat)

Jeff Davis                               4,805 (73.9%)

Tabitha Ponder                        1,693 (26%)                           


State Court Judge

Melissa Calhoun                     2,066 (29.1%) -- runoff 

Raymond Dickey                    2,025 (28.6%)            

Stephen R. Yekel (inc.)          2,986 (42.1%) -- runoff 


County Board of Education Dist. 3 (open seat)

Troy Lamar Allen                 1,225 (62.5%)            

Jacoby Jones                              735 (37.5%)