High number of MS votes not enough for Traw, Smith

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Staff Writers

Mammoth Spring voters turned out in force to elect two of their own to countywide offices in the June 8 Fulton County Democratic primary.

Despite the fact the Mammoth Spring precinct recorded the most votes (548) in the runoff election, both candidates from Mammoth Spring lost.

Fulton County sheriff's candidate Carrol Traw garnered 490 (89 percent) from the precinct but was defeated by Walter Dillinger of Viola. In the Fulton County judge's race, Jerry Smith received 468 (86 percent) votes from Mammoth Spring voters but lost a close race to Charles Willett of Salem.

Fulton County Clerk Gene Maguffee said the Benton precinct has more registered voters than the Mammoth Spring precinct. Maguffee said early voting by the elderly in the Benton precinct may have changed the number of votes attributed to each precinct.

He said having two members of the Mammoth Spring community running for high profile county offices also contributed to the high number of votes from Mammoth Spring.

Willett's primary win was buoyed by strong support in Benton-Union, Cleveland, Vidette-Bayou-Big Creek and Washington precincts.

Voters in Fulton-Mt. Calm, Strawberry, Benton-Union and Vidette-Bayou-Big Creek precincts voted overwhelmingly in favor of Dillinger.

With the primaries behind them, the remaining candidates will turn their focus to the general election Nov. 2.

Willett said he's looking forward to this new phase in his run for the county judge's seat. He said being selected as the Democratic nominee is an "an honor and privilege" and he expects a tough fight with Republican candidate Gary Phillips.

Phillips said he is behind in the race because he didn't have an opponent in the primaries but he plans to make up ground by campaigning through the summer and early fall.

"It will be a hard race, and I'm sure I'll see Charles on the road," Phillips said.

By winning the Democratic primary, Dillinger becomes the de-facto winner in the sheriff's race. He will run unopposed Nov. 2.

"I was overwhelmed," said Dillinger, after he learned of his election.

Dillinger said he expects a smooth transition when he becomes sheriff next year. He said he looks forward to working with the current employees at the sheriff's office and he anticipates a few minor changes.

In Sharp County runoffs, Democrat David Cook of Williford won the confidence of District 80 voters in the runoff election against Dick Nelson Roberts of Pocahontas and will run for representative in the November General Election.

"I'm tickled to death about it," said Cook, a former school administrator and educator. "We worked hard to get the folks back out to vote and they did."

Cook, Roberts and Kirk Wilson all sought the Democratic nomination in the May 18 primary; Cook and Roberts received the most votes. Because neither candidate had 50 percent of the vote, a runoff was necessary.

Cook will face Republican candidate Rodney Harris and Independent Gary Palmer in the November election. Incumbent Harmon Seawel is term-limited.

"I'm not going to take anything for granted," Cook said. "We're still going to have to work at it to get the votes in November."

The runoff also determined a winner in the race for District 6 JP. Incumbent Bartus Allen will serve another term after defeating Nancy A. McGuire of Poughkeepsie. Allen received 179 votes (58 percent). McGuire received 127 votes (42 percent.)

In the May 18 primary Allen received 45 percent of the vote while McGuire received 25 percent. Rickey Lawrence of Ravenden received 12 percent of the votes, while Danny Denton of Poughkeepsie received 18 percent.

No other races required runoffs in Sharp County.

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