Supervisor of Elections Linda Griffin sensed a different feeling when she began her day on Tuesday.
“There was a sense of calm and everything just fell into place after the polls closed, it was almost like somebody was watching over me on my last election,” Griffin said.
That last election – Griffin is retiring – seemed calm only to her.
On a day of close local races, Joanna Bryan became the first woman to hold a seat on the Board of County Commissioners; Commissioner Carmen McLemore squeaked past challenger Kenny Peak for his District 1 seat; and three new constitutional officers were elected.
Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton, seeking his first elected four-year term after serving just more than a year after his appointment by the governor, also won.
All results are unofficial until the canvassing board meets on Wednesday. The turnout was a healthy 79 percent, 7,153, of all registered voters. More than 2,500 voters took advantage of early or absentee voting.
The DNA for the night in most local races was thin margins.
In a three-way race, Bryan drew 53 percent, or 835 votes, to 32 percent, 505 votes for Democrat Jimmy Rogers and 15 percent, 233 votes, for John Grantland, who ran with no party affiliation.
McLemore, who trailed early in the night after early voting results were announced by Griffin, slipped by Peak in one of the closest races, keeping his BOCC seat by 827-757 in votes, or 52-48 percent.
The three new constitutional officers will be Mike Harrison as Gulf County Sheriff, John Hanlon replacing Griffin as Supervisor of Elections and Mitch Burke winning a three-way race to replace Property Appraiser Kesley Colbert, who like Griffin his retiring.
Harrison beat incumbent Joe Nugent in a rematch from four years ago, taking 57 percent of the vote (3,994) to Nugent’s 43 percent (3,017).
Hanlon, who is the current Deputy Supervisor of Elections, beat Wyvonne Griffin Pickett by a margin of 4,497-2,478 in votes, 64-36 percent.
Burke, who garnered 45 percent of the vote, beat Dan Christie, running with no party affiliation and as Deputy Property Appraiser, and James Rish. Christie took 39 percent, or 2,710 votes, while Rish ran third with 16 percent, or 1,124 votes.
As with McLemore, Norton surged late and slipped past Jay Bidwell, enjoying a margin of 52-48 percent, 3,612 votes to 3,366 for Bidwell in the single closest local race of the evening.