MOULTRIE — Tuesday night wasn’t the end of the story in the race for District 6. There will be a runoff April 18.

In what some said would be a straw poll for zoning, agribusinessman and developer Ray Gene Williams, vocal against the current board and restrictive zoning, was the victor of the first leg of the special election with 41.48 percent of the votes. Jackson Transmission manager Johnny Hardin came in second with 34.21 percent. Former County Administrator Marion Hay was a distant third with 24.31 percent of the votes.

Williams did not get the 50 percent plus one that Georgia requires for an outright victory in a special election, Colquitt County Elections Superintendent Wes Lewis explained.

Overall, 30.43 percent of active registered voters expressed their choice for commissioner to follow the late Commissioner Merle Hall. That means 762 out of 2,504 registered voters came out to vote.

Hardin showed strong in the largest precinct, Hopewell, with 107 votes; Hay came in second there with 77 votes and Williams third with 67. In the second largest precinct, Lee, Williams dominate with 135 against Hardin’s 54 and Hay’s 31. In the third largest precinct, Robinson, Williams led with 79, Hardin next with 67 and Hay third with 45. Only 11 people voted in the Moultrie 2 precinct; Williams gained six more votes there, Hay three and Hardin two. In absentee and early votes Hardin led with 29, Hay next with 28 and Williams last with 27.

After hearing the news, Williams said he was disappointed at the turnout at the polls for such a pivotal election for the board.

“But glad I was top man, and I’m glad I’m in the runoff,” he said, happily.

Hay also was surprised by the lack of voter turnout, lamenting the nearly 70 percent who left the board seat to the choice of a minority of District 6 residents.

Hardin is hoping to pull some of Hay’s votes to support him in the runoff.

“We’re excited. We’re happy that we’re here and are going to be in the runoff — humbled somewhat and proud that people put enough confidence in us that it got us here. Just hope to get back out here and get at it and try to get some more votes, get some support behind us and see what we can do,” Hardin said.

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