Liles defeats Clark for county commission seat

Polk County Commissioner Linda Liles checks over the final numbers of Tuesday’s runoff election at the Polk County Annex Builidng in Cedartown. Liles, who was appointed by the commission in March to fill a vacant seat on the board, won the special election to complete the term through 2022.

Linda Liles, who was appointed to the Polk County Commission earlier this year, won the seat outright last week to serve the remainder of the term.

Liles defeated Ricky Clark on Tuesday, Dec. 1, in a runoff for the special election to fill the seat vacated by Jennifer Hulsey, who stepped down in order to run for State House District 16.

A total of 1,416 votes were cast, with Liles receiving 68.9% of the vote. The former staffer for both U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Tom Graves got 976 votes to Clark’s 440, according to unofficial results from Polk County elections officials.

The final results will be adjudicated and certified by the county board of elections, Liles is expected to be sworn in officially in early January.

“I’m glad it’s over, but I want to thank all of my supporters who went out and voted for me again. I appreciate them so much, and I’m ready to get busy. We’re going to work together on this and make Polk County a better place,” Liles said after the final votes were reported.

Liles got the most votes in the Nov. 3 general election out of the five Republican candidates who qualified for the county commission seat with 5,902, equal to 38.41% of the total vote, while Clark was next with 3,415, or 22.23%.

Liles said the eight months she has served in a tentative capacity on the board has taught her a lot and she looks forward to getting to continue to work on the issues that affect the people of Polk County.

“We’ve got a great commission, we do. These guys work hard. We work hard for this county. And that’s the number one thing, what’s best for this county and the citizens of this county, so I’m looking forward to going back to work. I’m honored and blessed, I really am.”

In the breakdown of the ballots, more people voted either advance in-person or by absentee ballot than came out to precincts on election day.

A total of 294 voters came out during the three-day early voting period from Nov. 23-25, while 549 returned their absentee ballot before the 7 p.m. deadline on Dec. 1.

With the local runoff the only race on the ballot, election officials said the turnout was still better than what they had anticipated.

In comparison, more than 72% of Polk County’s 24,189 registered active voters cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 general election, which included the presidential race and several state and federal races.

Attention now turns to the Jan. 5 runoff for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats, with Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue facing Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, and Sen. Kelly Loeffler going up against Democrat Rev. Ralphael Warnock.

Early voting will begin for the Jan. 5 runoff on Dec. 14.

Advance in-person voting for the U.S. Senate and Public Service Commission runoffs will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Polk County annex building at 144 West Ave. in Cedartown from Dec. 14-18, 21-23 and 28-31.

Early voting will also be available at the the Nathan Dean Community Center at 604 Goodyear St. in Rockmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Dec. 28-31 only.

Those who wish to request an absentee ballot can do so by visiting ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov.

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