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Newkirk’s runoff win over Stringer raises tally of changes to 3 on Board of Commissioners
GOP nominee will now face Democrat Fatica
Nick Newkirk
Nick Newkirk

Nick Newkirk won Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff for District 2’s Seat C on the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners with 2,587 votes, or 64.4% of the total, to 1,433 votes for incumbent Commissioner Jappy Stringer.

The race is not over. Newkirk, now the Republican nominee, will face a Democratic Party candidate, Len Fatica, on the Nov. 5 general election ballot in Commission District 2. But it’s now certain that at least two of the six current district commissioners and the current countywide-elected chair will be replaced by new commissioners at the beginning of January.

A fourth seat on the board remains in play, with a longtime Democratic incumbent and a Republican challenger in District 1 headed directly to the general election.

Yet so far, the changes have come from anti-tax-increase, pro-change Republicans who have effectively “primaried” incumbent Republicans, a movement Newkirk gave voice to when phoned Tuesday evening after the vote count showed he had an insurmountable lead.

“I think the citizens of Bulloch County spoke. They spoke in the primary and they spoke today,” he said. “They are tired of the good old boy system. They are ready for change, and I think with us – and obviously I’m hoping I can get through November – but with David (Bennett) and Ray (Davis), I think that we’re ready to make a change.”

Asked what kind of change, Newkirk began, “We’re going to increase transparency; we’re going to go through the budget and lower these taxes and make the budget balance for sure. You know, I’m not going to have drawing out of the reserve for $2 million like we’re doing.”


Decided so far

David Bennett is, in effect, the Board of Commissioners chairman-elect after outpolling current Chairman Roy Thompson by a 2-to-1 margin in the May 21 Republican primary, and with no Democrat in that race. Meanwhile, Ray Davis captured almost 63% of the votes in his District 2, Seat A primary win against incumbent Curt Deal. Also with no general election opponent, Davis is in effect a commissioner-elect.

With a third Republican candidate, Brian Pfund, originally in the Seat 2-C race, Newkirk had received about 47% of the votes to Stringer’s 40% in the May 21 primary. Portion-wise, Newkirk picked up more than Pfund’s 13% from the primary to the runoff, but about 2,700 fewer votes were cast in the runoff that in the original three-candidate primary race. Just 11.8% of District 2’s 34,041 registered voters participated in the Republican runoff, but those who had voted using the Democratic Party ballot May 21 were ineligible anyway.


Stringer reacts

Stringer, now 67, a lifelong Bulloch County resident, retired after three decades owning and operating a full-service Chevron station and for 27 years also served as a volunteer firefighter. He was previously elected to the county commission seat in 2016 and 2020 and was seeking a third term.

“I certainly want to thank everybody that supported me,” Stringer said Tuesday night. “I’ve been a commissioner seven and a half years, and of course I will be until the end of the year. I feel like the Lord led me to do it when I became a commissioner, and now I just feel like the Lord must be leading me in another direction.

Jappy Stringer
Jappy Stringer

“So, there was this movement to get rid of all the incumbents somehow, and I guess they’re doing what they wanted to do,” he summed up. “On this runoff I had a great group of people supporting me, and we did everything we thought we could do to win the runoff, and I don’t know how I could have done any more.  It just wasn’t the will of the people, nor the will of the Lord.”


Yet to be decided

Besides the race between Newkirk and Fatica, the other commission seat to be decided in the general election is that for District 1’s Seat A. Longtime Democratic incumbent Commissioner Ray Mosley appeared alone on the May 21 Democratic ballot, while his Republican challenger, Ryan Brannen, appeared alone on the Republican primary ballot, so that race actually doesn’t go to voters until Nov. 5 and the early voting period that will precede it.


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