TUSCUMBIA — On his birthday, David Black received a present no one in Colbert County has been given recently: Black became the first Republican to win an election in the county since Reconstruction when he claimed the District 2 commission seat.
Meanwhile, the District 5 seat remains in question while county election officials determine if all votes cast for candidates in that district were counted.
In District 2, Black defeated Lane Roland by carrying 59 percent of the votes cast.
"I think people were ready for change," Black said. "And I think the message resonated of 138 years of lack of economic and political leadership that has put our county behind."
Black's victory wasn't just for District 2, many of his Republican party mates said.
Dale Presley, who lost her bid for the District 6 commission seat, said though her race didn't turn out as she had hoped, she was pleased to have a Republican break the long-standing Democratic stronghold.
"I am ecstatic," Presley said. "Not because I lost, but because there is a chance for growth in Colbert County."
Black said he is ready to work with the Democrats on the commission to "move Colbert County forward."
"This first thing we need to do is open up the budget and look at our revenue streams and see where our expenses are," the UNA economics professor said. "In the campaign, I called for more accountability and more transparency."
Democratic Commissioner Rex Burleson won his bid for re-election in District 1 of Colbert County.
Burleson, the incumbent, defeated Republican challenger Tommy Barnes with 55 percent of the vote.
"We've got work to do in the next four years to continue to move this county forward," Burleson said. "We have to continue to bring industry into the county."
He said that begins with Navistar beginning full production at the Barton facility.
He said Colbert County will then be in a position to attract spin-off industries.
Democrat Jimmy Gardiner defeated Republican Gina Smith for the District 3 seat, carrying nearly 64 percent of the votes. Gardiner, the incumbent, said there are challenges ahead for the commission.
"The economy is sill not what we all want it to be," Gardiner said. "Unity on the commission and with other entities in the Shoals is going to be vital going forward."
His competitor, Gina Smith, said she hopes Black's win will open doors for Republicans.
"By putting my name on the ballot, I won," she said. "I won, because I gave people a choice."
Democrat Roger Creekmore is leading the vote count in District 5, but a glitch at the Leighton City Hall precinct may impact the results.
Creekmore, the incumbent, has a slim 64 vote lead over Republican challenger Tommy Oswalt, but no District 5 votes in the Leighton City Hall precinct were recorded when the voting totals were printed Tuesday night.
Creekmore said while he was pleased with the apparent win, he felt Colbert County voters, particularly those in that Leighton precinct, deserved to be counted.
"I certainly intend to have this investigated," he said. "The residents are owed that."
Colbert County Probate Judge Tommy Croslin said the problem appears to have happened when ballots were fed into the electronic voting machine. Croslin said he will call Election Systems & Software, the company from which the state leases voting equipment, to seek a resolution.
"My guess is we will have to find a time when both candidates can be present and feed those ballots back through the machine," Crosslin said. How quickly that might happen was not known Tuesday night.
Oswalt said he knew about the problem but wasn't sure how it happened or how it would affect the final count.
"If that did happen, that is disenfranchising to the people," he said. "You want every vote to count."
He said once the final vote counts are tallied, he doesn't plan to contest it further.
Charles Hovater defeated Dale Presley to win the District 6 commission seat.
Hovater said as a commissioner he hopes to help the county put in more and better infrastructure to attract jobs and industry. He said he thinks the top needs are a more refined sewer system in industrial areas.
"I've got some ideas I will share with the commission, but I'll also listen to the ideas of the other commissioners," he said. "I want to get things headed in the right direction, but I will be flexible to work with."
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at email@example.com