It may have taken 20 years to win election as sheriff, but Bobby McCallum is not looking back. On Tuesday night, as he accepted the hugs and well-wishes of supporters, he said he is ready to go to work on Jan. 8.
In unofficial results from all 11 precincts in Levy County, McCallum received 10,247 votes or 57.91 percent of the ballots to opponent Lee Sullivan's 7,447, or 42.08 percent. McCallum, who had run as a Democrat in previous races ran as a Republican this year winning a bitter primary battle against Sheriff's Maj. Evan Sullivan in the august Republican primary.
In all, more than 18,000 of the county's more than 25,110 voters cast ballots in the general election
In other county races:
• Danny Shipp, a Democrat, won election to a fourth term over his Republican challenger, former County Commissioner Wilbur Dean. by a vote of 9,907 to 8,139. Shipp attributed his victory to "people have seen that I've done a good job."
• District 1 County Commissioner Mike Joyner, a Republican, defeated three-time candidate Al Macri, a Democrat, for the District 3 County Commission seat. The unofficial result was 11,725 for Joyner to 5,888 for Macri. Joyner said, "The people of this county have humbled me. I will not let them down."
• Bronson Businessman John Meeks, a Republican, defeated former Bronson Mayor Jamie Griffin, a Democrat, for the District 1 County Commission seat. Meeks received 12,005 votes to 5,711 for Griffin. Meeks said he will make economic development a priority in his term.
With the election of Joyner and Meeks, the commission returns to being an all-male board for the first time since 1993 when former Commissioner Lily Rooks was elected to the board. Since then, Commissioner Nancy Bell has left the commission and election day was District 3 Commissioner Marsha Drew's final commission meeting. Drew was appointed to the position in 2008 after longtime Commissioner Sammy Yearty was indicted.
The election also leaves District 5 Commissioner Danny Stevens of Williston, the lone Democrat on the commission and the longest serving commissioner.
McCallum will replace Sheriff Johnny Smith, the man who fired him eight years ago after another hard-fought election. Smith did not seek re-election this year. Smith was among the many who congratulated McCallum on Tuesday night. The sheriff invited McCallum to come in and talk to him soon. “There are things I need to share,” Smith said earlier in the evening, pledging his cooperation in the transition.
McCallum said he is eager to start work "to restore some stability" to the sheriff's department. "I want to put politics aside." McCallum was referring to the divisions that have been left from the bitter primary fight and the election as deputies and sheriff's staff took sides in the elections.
"I feel very blessed and thankful…very humbled," McCallum said, a sentiment that was echoed by every winning candidate Tuesday evening. "It feels great," he added, standing in almost the same spot where he stood four years ago and lost a close race to Smith.
McCallum's opponent Lee Sullivan, a Marion County sheriff's major, said he will run again in four years and he plans on being a county resident by then. Sullivan's residency was an issue in the campaign. Sullivan, a native of Chiefland, said he started out with little name recognition and said he was hurt by getting into the race late. "I had a deficit to overcome."
Joyner, who was unable to run a hard campaign as he first recovered from surgery then spent the past three weeks spending time at his son Scooter's side as he recovered from a farm accident. Joyner was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the District 1 seat after Commissioner Chad Johnson won election to the District 2 seat in 2010.
In other races on the ballot, Levy County voters went for:
• Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney giving him 12,027 votes to 6,089 for incumbent Democrat Barack Obama.
• Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack IV giving him 9,533 votes to 7,803 for incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
• Republican Ted Yoho for Congressional District 3 giving him 12,523 votes to 4,860 for Democrat J.R. Gaillot and 518 votes for write-in candidate Philip Dodds.
• Retaining Florida Supreme Court Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.
• Retaining Florida 1st District Court of Appeals Judges Simone Marstiller, Stephanie Ray, Ron Swanson and Brad Thomas.