Complete results from the 2020 election in Georgia may not be in until Wednesday at the earliest, but results in contested races in three Northwest Georgia counties all came in before 10 p.m. without a hitch.
Republican Vanita Hullander held off write-in candidate Terry Crawford to secure her seat on the Catoosa County Commission.
Hullander, 64, was frustrated throughout Crawford's write-in campaign, and a tipping point was when a mailer went out to voters in the district from Crawford about how he was the real Republican candidate. Hullander also was frustrated that Republican leaders including state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and commission Chairman Steven Henry were backing Crawford despite the county's GOP group supporting her.
Back in August, Hullander beat the incumbent Jim Cutler in a runoff. Hullander was the underdog, going up against a well-established candidate who went into the runoff with top-level endorsements at the local and state level.
She has held dozens of positions on various boards in Catoosa County and served as the county coroner for six terms. Cutler was endorsed by Mullis, Sheriff Gary Sisk and Catoosa County Schools Superintendent Denia Reese.
Despite the political deck being stacked against her, Hullander came out on top in November.
"I'm ecstatic right now," Hullander said Tuesday night. "I've said the whole time that God has got this, and it turns out He did. I was so appreciative that people came out for me again and voted for what's right."
Henry won his reelection bid for the Catoosa County Commission, defeating Democratic challenger Ernie Pursley and write-in candidate Nick Ware with more than 77% of the vote.
Election Board Chairman Ricky Kittle said Tuesday night that more than 21,000 people voted early in Catoosa County, exceeding election officials' expectations by more than 10,000.
Walker County will have a fully Republican county commission following November's election. Sitting sole commissioner Shannon Whitfield survived the primary as the Republican candidate and will be the chairman of the new board. Robert Blakemore in District 1, Mark Askew in District 2 and Brian Hart in District 3 all won their races. Republican Robert Stultz was unopposed in District 4.
Blakemore — a softball coach, truck driver and auctioneer — won with nearly 76% of the vote. Askew — a former city councilman in Chickamauga— won with more than 81%. Hart — a cattle farmer in Villanow — won with more than 82%.
Republican Blake Elsberry defeated Democratic challenger Jimmy Holbrook with more than 67% of the vote to become the next sole commissioner in Chattooga County.
"I am overwhelmed and humbled by the show of support we received today," Elsberry said in a statement to the Times Free Press. "I just want to say thank you to everyone who voted, worked, and prayed to make this all happen. I truly appreciate it."
Holbrook posted a concession note on his campaign Facebook page thanking the voters who voted for him.
"Congratulations to Mr. Blake Elsberry. I appreciate all the votes and support," Holbrook wrote. "We ran a clean campaign and I am proud of those who worked so hard. Let's all keep our county and our nation in our prayers."
Elsberry talked on the campaign trail about transparency that he said was lacking in local government. He also talked about the importance of financial stability, infrastructure and industry development. For the last 10 years Elsberry has worked as an invasive cardiovascular technician at Floyd Hospital.
In the June primary, two votes separated Elsberry and incumbent Jason Winters that pushed the race to a runoff. In August, Elsberry defeating the three-term incumbent easily with more than 60% of the vote.
Gary Woods defeated Holley Strawn-Gilliland to become the next probate judge in Chattooga County.
All voting results, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified.
Contact Patrick Filbin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.
We may not know results on election night
Election night usually ends with results. This year will probably be different due to record-breaking early voting and the deluge of voting by mail-in ballots. Read more on how the Times Free Press plans to handle this and where we get information on election results.