05/07/08 — Your Votes - Commission showdown

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Your Votes - Commission showdown

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 7, 2008 2:22 PM

Dr. Sandra McCullen, an assistant superintendent with Wayne County Public Schools, won the three-way race for the Democratic nomination for the at-large seat on the Wayne County Board of Education Tuesday, while businessman Hal Keck earned the Republican berth.

They will compete in November for the seat.

In unofficial returns, Ms. McCullen received 7,901 votes (48.92 percent). Chris Gurley was second with 5,378 votes (33.3 percent) and Darrell Horne came in third with 2,872 votes (17.78 percent)

Keck pulled in 3,109 votes (61.31 percent) while Jeff Jennings finished with 1,962 votes (38.69) percent.

"It feels great," Ms. McCullen said. "I had a lot of supporters to make this happen. I am elated that I had that many supporters. I think that shows that Wayne County is ready for consensus and to move into the 21st century."

She said that her many years as an educator and school administrator probably were factors in her win. She said that as she traveled across the county on Tuesday visiting polling places that she had seen many of her former students. Ms. McCullen also said that her ties to the county's agriculture community were a factor. Her husband, Randy, is a farmer.

She said that she wants to work to make Wayne County a "great place to work, live and play."

"I am ready to meet the citizens of Wayne County and listen to their concerns and move county government in a progressive way," she said.

Keck also was in a good mood after the totals were in.

"That is a very, very good number to hear," he said when told the final tally.

Keck said he had expected a "decent vote." He said that for the most part, the Democrats had more races on the ballot that appealed to voters headlined by the Democratic presidential primary.

Keck attributed his win to hard campaigning and said he would work more in the southern end of the county between now and November. The southern end of the county is considered Ms. McCullen's stronghold.

"I will have to convince the people down there that I will be a better commissioner," he said.

Keck said he also will have to let voters know that being a Republican, "We are fairly adamant about not raising taxes unless it is absolutely necessary."

He said that he also wanted "to do better" for the children of Wayne County.

"She has been in education for years and has not accomplished much that I can see," Keck said.

Gurley, who finished second in the Democratic primary said, "Obviously, I would have liked to have won. I would have loved to have had 7,902 votes. The support from my family, friends and supporters has been overwhelming.

"They had the confidence in me that I could do the job. If there hadn't been three candidates the results might have been different."

He said there was no doubt in his mind that the outcome might have been different had it not been a three-way contest or if it had been a nonpartisan one.

Gurley said he felt that his 20 years in the fire service had helped him during the campaign.

"I am happy with everything and I congratulate her," he said of Ms. McCullen.

Jennings, who finished second in the Republican contest, called the primary a "pretty good race."

Horne, who finished third in the Democratic primary, agreed.

"It was a good learning experience," he said. "I met a lot of good people."

He said that Ms. McCullen had benefited from her many years as an educator and that Gurley had benefited from his years in the fire-fighting service.

"I gave it a good shot and I don't have any regrets," he said.

Horne, who is the mayor of Walnut Creek, said he wasn't sure if he would venture into county politics again. He said that he would be 65 in four years and that he and his wife wanted to travel. However, did not rule out another run at office.

Horne said he did not think there was one defining issue in the race.

"I think we all agreed on the issues (in the county)," he said.