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Macon primary shows strength of incumbents

Going into the primary elections in Macon County, every candidate stressed the need for a fiscally conservative mindset as the county continues to contend with declining revenues. With little to separate the candidates’ platforms, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the incumbent county commissioners would win their primaries without trouble. The results showed that to be true.

In Highlands, Republican incumbent Brian McClellan held off a challenge from Jimmy Tate and is headed for a rematch with Alan Ricky Bryson, who won the Democratic primary for the Highlands seat. The two are now set to square off in a rematch of their race four years ago. McClellan narrowly ousted Bryson, the sitting commissioner at the time, by 6,311 votes to 6,186 in that 2006 race.

McClellan said the race in November will pit two candidates with clear track records and the voters will have to make a decision.

“We both have a record to run on or defend depending on how you look at it, and I expect that’s what the race will be about,” McClellan said after the polls closed Tuesday night.

During the last election, Bryson came under fire from his Highlands constituents for his actions as county commissioner that went against local interests. Bryson was blamed for a county lawsuit against Highlands when the town attempted to create an extra-territorial jurisdiction — a special area that is not taxed but is subject to town zoning regulations.

McClellan has the advantage of running as an incumbent but also has to contend with a DUI offense for which he received attention last summer.

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In the Franklin district, incumbents Ronnie Beale and Bob Simpson were in a race with newcomer Carroll Poindexter to secure two seats. Beale and Simpson won their seats back, though Poindexter came close to unseating Simpson.

Beale said he was surprised by the low voter turnout in the race –– just over 16 percent –– but he took the support of the incumbent candidates as a confirmation of support for the board’s body of work.

Beale said the commissioners have a tough budget season to get through and he expects their decisions to become the basis for the candidates’ positions in the November election.

Macon County commissioner

Democrat, Franklin district — top two advance

Ronnie Beale (Incb.): 1,252

Bob Simpson (Incb.): 1,021

Carol Poindexter: 943

*The winners of this district will face two Republican challengers in the fall.

Democrat, Highlands district — one advances

Allan Bryson: 1,047

Michael Rogers: 781

Republican, Highlands district — one advances

Brian McLellan (Incb.): 997

Jimmy Tate: 771

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