Dade County voters picked Ray Cross over incumbent Patrick Cannon for the GOP slot in the sheriff's race by a margin of less than 0.5 percent.
But neither netted enough votes to avoid a runoff slated for Aug. 21. In November, the winner will face Philip Street, the lone Democratic contender who was sheriff from 1984 to 2004, when Cannon defeated him. Street was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Cannon, 39, said late Tuesday that the second-place finish with so many primary candidates on the ballot was "not really a disadvantage."
"We're going to get up tomorrow and hit the ground running and start working hard," he said. "I look forward to serving four more years."
Cross, 52, said he's looking ahead to campaigning before the runoff.
"We're going to go out there and work hard for the next three weeks and win this thing," he said.
Dade County voters in both primaries also overwhelmingly supported a straw poll question on whether a portion of county property taxes should be earmarked for the financially strained Dade County Public Library, which recently lost $39,000 in funding from the school system.
"I'm encouraged, excited and hopeful that the County Commission will take this resounding 'Yes' and do something positive with it that will change the way our libraries are funded locally," said Lecia Eubanks, Cherokee Regional Library System director. "I know it's not binding, but I hope they will listen."
Also on Dade's ballot, Kerri Bray Carter and David Duvall Jr. will face each in a runoff for nonpartisan judge of probate court, and Allan Bradford won the County Commission's District 4 GOP slot over incumbent Peter Cervelli. There were no Democratic candidates in that primary.
Kathy Page and Carolyn B. Lane tallied the most votes in the three-way Republican primary for clerk of Superior Court, but Page, who led voting, did not have 50 percent or more of the vote, which lands both of them on the August runoff ballot. There were no Democratic candidates.
In the Board of Education District 3 Republican primary, Ronnie Page and John Warren garnered the most votes in a three-way race for that seat but didn't get more than 50 percent of the vote, so they'll face each other in the runoff.
In the District 5 school board Republican primary, Careyee Bell and David Powell outpaced three others but failed to net more than 50 percent of the vote, either, so they'll be in a runoff, too.
There were no Democratic primary candidates for either post.
All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by the Georgia secretary of state.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...