Stewart, Steward both get new terms

November 10, 2018

The two Republicans in the only two competitive races locally both pulled away with huge victories in Tuesday’s general election.

Dana Stewart was elected to a new four-year term on the Gordon County Board of Education, taking more than 80 percent of the vote to overcome the challenge of Democrat Allen Dutch. Chad Steward was elected to another four-year term on the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, carrying 82.11 percent of the vote to beat out Democratic challenger Arthene Bressler.

Stewart currently holds the Post 3 seat, after filling an opening on the board in 2016.

Stewart won the election by 8,647 votes. A total of 82.93 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of Stewart, while Dutch received 17.04 percent of votes. There were 10,883 who voted for Stewart and 2,236 who voted for Dutch.

“I feel really good with the results,” Stewart said Tuesday, adding that she was impressed by the phenomenal voter turn out this year.

Gordon County’s overwhelmingly Republican votes reflected the conservative values and priorities of local people, she said.

Stewart was appreciative of the county electing her and the already existing programs dedicated to putting children first. She credits the teachers, parents, family, friends and the board of education for the success of her campaign.

“Thank you Gordon County for your vote of confidence,” Stewart said following the official Gordon County election results. “I pledge to always put children first.”

Dutch was not pleased with his defeat, but was thankful for the people who did vote for him.

“Two thousand votes don’t even begin to make a dent,” Dutch said, “but it was nice to meet a lot of new people during the process.”

He said during his time campaigning he was able to offer a bit of hope to citizens with liberal ideals who didn’t know they had someone to represent them. Some people he met didn’t even know a Democratic Party existed, he said.

“A lot of political seats in Gordon County go unchallenged,” Dutch said, but he said he was still very thankful for everyone who supported him. “And congratulations to Dana Stewart.”

The board’s website explains how board members are elected to four-year terms on a staggered two-year election cycle. In 2018, there were three seats up for election: posts 3, 5 and 7. Stewart was the only one running against an opponent.

Kacee Smith did not have a challenger in the Post 5 race after defeating longtime board member Nan Barnette in the Republican primary election in May. He will join the board at the start of next year.

Former Calhoun City Schools board member Eddie Hall (R) also went unopposed for the Post 7 seat in the general election after beating out current board member Larry Massey in the Republican primary.

Charlie Walraven was also unopposed for the Post 1 seat in the general election, as was the case in the Republican primary as well. He will serve another four-year term.

Steward: ‘Thank you’ Gordon County

Steward received 14,199 votes to Bressler’s 3,038. The District 2 seat was the only County Commission seat where the incumbent faced a challenger in the General Election. County Commission Chair Becky Hood, a Republican, was unopposed for the District 4 seat, as was the case in the Republican primary in May.

“Thank you citizens of Gordon County for giving me the opportunity to serve you for the past 16 years on the county school board and County Commission,” Steward said. “I want to give a special thanks my family and friends for all of their support.”

Steward took to looking ahead for his next four years.

“I am ready for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead the next four years,” he said. “Thank you again Gordon County.”

Bressler, a retired psychologist who moved to Calhoun from Norcross six years ago, was not surprised by the results of the election, she said. However, she is taking her experience and looking toward the future.

“I think it was a really good experience,” she said. “I’m gonna be around. I’m still going to be an advocate for change.”

She was driven to run for the County Commission due to “too many people sitting in the same seat for too long,” she said.

“As far as the win or lose thing, the information did get out to people,” Bressler said. “I think it was time to get the word out and say we could do better. I think letting people know that change is inevitable, sometimes we have to move forward with new people with a new vision.”

Though Bressler said she never saw herself running for public office, she grew up in a family which encouraged involvement in politics and the questions surrounding it.

“Now I would say I should have done it a long time ago,” she said. “The lesson I learned is democracy is still alive, we just have to watch how its applied.”

She condemned the “tribal belief system” that has infiltrated our politics, speaking to the dangers of an ideology “that’s never willing to change.”

Bressler said the so-called “Blue Wave” of Democrats challenging Republicans is not going away.

“This is just the beginning, we will see more of these efforts going forward,” she said.

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