Published 12:45 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006
By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER and LYDIA GRIMES
Incumbent gets four more years in office
Sheriff Grover Smith was doing the math himself Tuesday night.
Gathered with supporters at the East Brewton Civic Center, he tallied results on a dry erase board as vote totals trickled in.
Smith, in office just one term, beat challenger Tim Hawsey by nearly a 2 to 1 margin in the Democratic primary.
Smith had 3,032 votes to Hawsey's 1,749 votes, with all precincts in Escambia County reporting.
The sheriff's race was the only contested county-wide ballot Tuesday.
But it was a race that likely seemed very familiar to Escambia County voters.
Smith beat Hawsey - then a 20-year incumbent - in 2002.
Voter turnout was about 33 percent in Escambia County.
Few problems were reported at the polls, although a voting place had to be moved from the old North Brewton School to Jackson Plumbing nearby because of vandalism at the school.
More than 75 supporters gathered at the civic center with Smith, and by 7:45 p.m., Hawsey had only carried one box. Little children swarmed around, tossing balloons in the air while adults milled around the long table displaying chicken and other food.
As the votes poured in, more supporters moved from their chairs, threw away their half-eaten plates and inched closer to the platform, peering at the dry erase board.
Inside the probate judge's office, ballots were being counted as fast as the boxes arrived.
The drug problem, strong traffic enforcement and easy accessibility were among the top three promises Smith said he would focus on during his next four years. To be better accessible, Smith said he now has messages from his telephone at home forwarded to his cell phone. With the exception of the rare few, Smith said he hopes to answer all calls made to him.
In his campaign, Smith emphasized the work he did to improve the jail, including installing new locks, as well as his work to earn grants to pay for new programs and investigators.
Hawsey congratulated Smith on the win.