Newcomer, incumbent win in Macon

Political newcomer Ronnie Beale and incumbent Bob Simpson beat two other Democrats in Tuesday’s primary and will move on to the Nov. 7 general election against two Republicans.

Simpson led the ticket, garnering 1,477 votes, while Beale was close behind at 1,352. In third place was one-term incumbent Jay Dee Shepard, who garnered 1,116 votes. Milo Beran was a distant fourth with 349 votes.

Simpson is a HVAC contractor who first ran for office four years ago. He says serving the public is rewarding, and so he hopes to remain in office. Property rights have become a large issue in Macon County, and Simpson said people should have the right to do as they please with their land until they infringe on the rights of others.

“You have these rights until you affect someone else,” Simpson said.

While this is Beale’s first try for elected office, he is the chairman county planning board. He said he ran for office to try and foster a spirit of cooperation.

“I think it went pretty well, but in the primary this is just the playoffs. You’ve got to win the playoffs to get in the championship game,” Beale said on election night.

A for land use, Beale said some regulations may be necessary to protect people from harmful uses, but for the most part he believes people should be able to use their land as they please.

Beale’s cautious approach to land use planning most likely is responsible for his win.

“You try to tell the folks how you feel about the important issues and then after that it’s up to them,” said Beale.

Beale is president of a construction company and is on the board of Macon Bank.

Beale and Simpson will square off against Republicans Harold Corbin and Rick Mashburn in November. Corbin is the former chairman of the Macon County Board of Commissioners.

“In the general election you really find out if your appealing to the whole electorate,” said Beale of the upcoming general election.

Macon County saw low voter turn out in the primaries, which election workers blamed on a lack of citizen concern.

“Apparently nothing’s a big draw,” Steve Green, Chief Judge for the North Franklin precinct, said of the elections, which include local, state and federal races.

North Franklin, the county’s largest precinct, had only 347 voters stop in to cast their ballots an hour before polls closed.

Upon hearing of Jackson County’s expected 20 percent voter turn out Green said, “We’d be lucky to get that today.”

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