Republican Party candidates ran strong in Jones County Tuesday night, but it was an Independent Party candidate that may have captured the most attention of the evening.
Joe Berlin, who bypassed the August primary by running as an Independent, beat the man, Macon Davis, who had defeated three-term incumbent Sheriff Alex Hodge three months ago.
According to the unofficial final results received from the Jones County Circuit Clerk’s Office Wednesday morning, Berlin collected 10,852 votes to Davis’ 9,288. Davis had handily defeated Hodge back on August 27 in a run-off, which suggested he might have some "political momentum" as residents headed to the polls Tuesday morning. But the final results Tuesday night told a different story, as Berlin amassed over 1,500 more votes than his Republican counterpart.
Berlin will now take over the sheriff's department in January and work with a group of supervisors that will include three new members – Larry Dykes, Phil Dickerson and Travares Comegys. Dykes pulled out a close win over Ronnie Herrington (2,596 to 2,226), but Dickerson and Comegys easily won their respective races in Beat 3 and Beat 5. Dickerson gained 80.29 percent of the votes versus Donald Dale Holifield, and Comegys grabbed over 75 percent of the votes against Chris Holifield. Both Holifields and Herrington ran as Independent Party candidates. There were 10 total Independent Party candidates on the ballot Tuesday night, but only Berlin won from among that group. Independent Harvey Saul was unopposed in his bid for county surveyor.
Incumbent Republican supervisors Johnny Burnett (Beat 1) and David Scruggs (Beat 4) had no trouble keeping their seats, with both getting over 70 percent of the votes in their districts. Circuit Court Clerk Concetta Brooks, also a Republican, received over 80 percent of the vote to seize her second term.
Other than sheriff candidate Davis, every Republican candidate on the ballot won in Jones County, including Steven L. Wade in the District 34 Senate race; Democrat Juan Barnett, however, did prevail in that race district wide, tallying 60 percent of the total district votes.
Grant Hedgepeth can now add “judge” in front of his name as he garnered more votes than Democrat Marian A. Allen and Independent Larry Blakeney had combined in the Justice Court District 1 race. Hedgepeth needed just a few more votes to reach 5,000, which gave him over 72 percent of the total votes cast in that match-up.
Danny Gibson (R) won over Democrat Le’Byron O. Jackson (4,661 to 1,995) for the constable position in District 2.
Jones County voters also hung with the Republicans in the statewide races, with Tate Reeves getting nearly 65 percent of the vote here, compared with the 52 percent he collected across the state in defeating Democrat Jim Hood. Every other Republican candidate competing in a statewide race received at least 70 percent of the vote in Jones County.
Ovett resident Rickey L. Cole, a Democrat, actually fared better statewide than he did at home, winning 41 percent of the total votes against Andy Gipson in the Commissioner of Agriculture campaign. Cole got over 346,000 votes across the state but only 29 percent of the votes here in his home county.