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Surprises in the election

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By Jim Clark

Each generation or group of people has its catch phrases, something that just sort of pops into the languages.

One of the statements making the rounds now is "Wow! Didn't see that comin'."

That's the way I felt Tuesday night gathering the local election returns.

I didn't foresee the defeat of incumbent Francis Akins as property appraiser, especially given the county's history of constant re-election of incumbents.

But from the moment the first returns were posted at the Supervisor of Elections office, including both the absentee ballots and early voting, Osborn Barker had the lead and never relinquished it. Barker had worked hard around the county to get his name out, and the drive was successful.

The same dominance was shown in the school superintendent's race, which I thought would be a lot closer. But again, from the beginning, Bob Hastings piled up a lead and held on to sweep into office against Jeff Edison. Although there was no incumbent in this race, Edison was closely associated with retiring Cliff Norris, so this result had to be a little surprising. Hastings had, at one point or another in his career, been at all three county high schools and was well known in the area.

Danny Stevens was re-elected easily over Jerry Robinson, a former Williston council member, but Tony Parker faced a tough challenge from Abraham Blitch before Parker finally pulled away as the final three precincts were totaled.

It did make for an interesting evening as the crowd buzzed and occasionally cheered when new totals were put up on the giant screen.

LATE VOTERS: The wait at the end was mainly due to the long lines at Bronson, where voting was slow all day and people had to wait. While other precincts were able to close out shortly after 7, Bronson still had many people on line as the deadline passed.

Still, the count seemed to go without a hitch.

COMPLAINTS: The only complaint the Pioneer received concerned the polling place in the city of Williston at First Baptist Church. The site was moved there because of all the construction in front of City Hall.

The church had a big sign urging passage of Amendment 2, but when opponents of the Amendment wanted to carry signs at the same site, they were turned away from church property.

The church can argue that it has the right to keep people off its property, but on this day the church became public property, and the rules of fairness should have applied.

Maybe it's time for the county to look for alternate sites rather than churches, anyway. Many years ago, Election Day was always a school holiday, and in many areas schools were used for voting.

Couldn't we do that again? Wouldn't it be better to give the kids a day off than some of the other nonsensical school holidays we have?

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.