FLORENCE — Dewey Mitchell broke a strong statewide Republican wave Tuesday night to be elected as the Lauderdale County Commission chairman.
Meanwhile, Roger Garner became the first Republican elected to the commission and Commissioner Fay Parker won a second term.
In 2010, Lauderdale County voters decided to separate the job of probate judge and commission chairman.
Mitchell, who served as probate judge and commission chairman for 18 years, defeated Republican Quinton Hanson.
Mitchell received 51.8 percent of the 35,825 votes cast. He defeated Hanson by 1,331 votes.
Mitchell said the crossover vote was a key to his win.
"We were able to stay close in a some of his bigger boxes, and then we did really well in a couple that I carried," Mitchell said.
He won the Handy Recreation Center box 682-25, Highland Baptist 685-444 and Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ 682-189.
"There was no pattern," Mitchell said. "The support was countywide."
Hanson, a Florence businessman, said his polls show there were 25-26 percent Republican straight-ticket voting in his race while there was only 17-18 percent Democratic straight-party voting.
"That shows Mitchell made up the difference in the crossover votes," Hanson said. "I love Lauderdale County, and I know Mr. Mitchell does too. I wish him the best as commission chairman."
Garner defeated Commission District 1 incumbent Democrat Rhea Fulmer by 1,047 votes, or 53 percent.
Garner won all but two of the district's 15 boxes.
"I think the strong Republican showing contributed (to the totals) but I really haven't had time to look at all the boxes yet," said Garner, of Rogersville.
Fulmer was seeking her second term.
"I feel the straight-party voting did me in," she said. "It was box to box to box, right down the line." She won two boxes — Greenhill and Florence High School — by small margins and lost her two home boxes of Elgin and Center Star.
"When I saw how close it was in Greenhill, I thought I had a problem," she said.
Garner said he is excited.
"I think I can make a positive impact on the commission and the county," Garner said. "I want us to work as a county commission, not a party system." Parker won all but three of the 18 District 2 boxes.
He finished with 1,878 more votes than Joe Hackworth. Parker got 55 percent of the 16,968 votes in the District 2 race.
Hackworth won boxes at Mars Hill, Forest Hills and St. Florian.
"Boxes I felt he would be strong in," Parker said of those three. "And to make up for those, I knew I would have to win the others, and thankfully I did." Parker was strongest at Handy Recreation Center where he received 673 votes to 27 for Hackworth. Also, the First Presbyterian Church in Florence was another strong box for him as he won 460-243.
Hackworth, who was making his first attempt in politics, thanked his supporters.
"I encourage the commission to remember the concerns expressed by our citizens and to work to resolve these matters," Hackworth said. The new commissioners will take office Nov. 14.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757.