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By Lou Elliott Jones
It was a good day for incumbents in Tuesday's primary as three won re-election and others won their party's nomination for the November election.
Almost one-third of the county's registered voters, 8,216 out of 25,070, cast ballots in the primary. All results are unofficial. While it was a primary to determine the nominees for the November general elections, three races were being decided as the Republican Party did not mount have any candidates to oppose the Democrats.
The most hotly contested and closest race was for sheriff where 187 votes gave Johnny Smith a third term over challenger Bobby McCallum. Smith received 4,155 votes to 3,968 for McCallum.
McCallum, who was watching the early vote count that had him ahead by 137 votes at one point, said he felt good about the election. "I'm going to be fine. I've got a peace," he said. "But Bronson's still out and that's Smith's home."
McCallum added: "I'd regret if I hadn't done it."
Smith, who said he was grateful and humbled by the victory, commended McCallum and his supporters saying they ran a good campaign.
"It was a close race," Smith said. "I feel people have seen that we have done a good job."
He pointed to a 16.6 percent overall drop in crime in the county in 2007 as a key point in the race.
Now he said he must start dealing with the tight budget in the coming year that property tax cuts and the economy are effecting on county spending. Smith said he will be looking at streamlining his internal operations. The father of a 12-year-old, the sheriff said he will become more involved in youth programs and expanding community crime prevention programs.
In the race for Clerk of Court, incumbent Danny Shipp received 5,216 votes to County Road Department Director Bruce A. Greenlee's 2.867. Immediately after the announcement of the unofficial totals, Greenlee walked over to congratulate Shipp and the two men shook hands and hugged.
Shipp and his wife had spent Monday night putting "Thank You" signs over his campaign signs, starting in Inglis at 9 p.m. and working their way north. Shipp said he did not do it because he was confident of a win, but because it's important for a candidate to thank the voters.
County Commission Chairman Sammy Yearty won re-election in commission District 3 against challenger Al Macri. Yearty received 4,908 votes to Macri's 3013.
In other races, the nominees are:
County Commission, District 1: Democratic nominee is incumbent Tony Parker with 2,693 votes to challengers Dave Bibby, 696, and John Meeks, 1,835.
County Commission, District 5: Democratic nominee is Danny Stevens with 3,243 votes to Cal Byrd's 1,959.
Property Appraiser: Francis Akins defeated newcomer Anthony Phillips by 3,580 to 1,690 votes.
Edith McCrimmon won the race for Republican state committeewoman with 1,380 votes to Juanita Melchoir's 652.
In the race for State Representative from District 10, Levy County Republicans gave the nod to Don Curtis with 929 votes to 880 for Don Williams; and Democrats gave the nod to Leonary Bembry with 2,333 votes to 2,108 for Julie Conley. There are other counties in the district and the outcome of those votes will determine the parties' nominees.