Peebles, Roundtree in Aug. 21 sheriff's runoff; Sanders gets Republican nod

The field of candidates for Richmond County’s next sheriff was cut in half Tuesday, with one Republican advancing and two Democrats headed to an August runoff.

None of the four Democrats on the primary ballot was able to get a clear majority to win outright, but sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles and school Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree emerged with the most votes, placing them in a runoff election set for Aug. 21.

Peebles received the most, with 13,932, or 47 percent of the votes, to Roundtree’s 11,725, or 39 percent.

Peebles was exultant at his finish but urged his supporters to not let up and to continue campaigning for the next election.

“When we polled back here in March, we were going to lose this thing outright. You guys pulled us through and got us where we are right now,” Peebles said to the crowd at his election headquarters on Azalea Drive. “Please, please, do not go to sleep on me now; I need your help.”

Peebles said his team was meeting Tuesday night to start work on the next three weeks of campaigning.

“I really believe our message resonated,” he said. “I think people believe I can do what I say I’m going to do.”

Roundtree said he wasn’t disappointed with the results.

“Don’t think of this as a letdown at all,” he said. “We’ve got 21 days and we’ve got work to do. Our message is pure. We didn’t buy this campaign.”

Should he beat Peebles in the runoff, Roundtree would have a distinct advantage in the November election because the majority of Richmond County voters tend to lean Democratic. A win would make him the county’s first black sheriff.

On the Republican side, Augusta lawyer Freddie Sanders trounced opponent Mike Godowns, with 76 percent of the votes. Sanders will face the winner of the Democratic runoff in the November general election.

“We are tickled with how well we did,” Sanders said. “We will go after our opponent, whoever that is.”

Six men qualified to run in Tuesday’s primary: two Republicans and four Democrats. Of the two remaining Democrats – both sheriff’s employees – Lt. Robbie Silas had the best showing with 2,560 votes, about 9 percent, to Lt. John Ivey’s 1,662 votes, or almost 6 percent.

Ivey, the oldest of the candidates and the one with the most law enforcement experience, was disappointed in his last-place finish. He has said he might consider retirement from the sheriff’s force after the new sheriff takes over in January.

“I thought I would do a lot better than that. I don’t know what happened,” he said. “My hat’s off to the other two guys.”

Ivey wouldn’t say Tuesday whether he would support one of the candidates who advanced to the runoff.

“I’m still an employee of the sheriff’s office,” Ivey said. “I can’t endorse anyone.”

Silas, the brother-in-law of Sheriff Ronnie Strength, had strong support from voters in south Augusta precincts, but it wasn’t enough to surpass Roundtree for a second-place finish.

Silas released no statement after the election and did not return phones calls seeking comment.

Strength, who had been withholding any endorsement of a candidate until after the primary election, said he wasn’t making any immediate statement about whom he would support in the runoff.

Richmond County ballot questions

(Republicans)
77 of 77 precincts
1. Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?
Yes............................. 2,935
No............................... 3,595
2. Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?
Yes............................. 5,509
No.................................. 982
3. Should active duty military personnel who are under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons license?
Yes............................. 3,823
No............................... 2,686
4. Should citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least 30 days prior to such primary election?
Yes............................. 2,807
No............................... 3,661
5. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each innocent human being from his or her earliest biological beginning without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency?
Yes............................. 4,632
No............................... 1,664
6. Should the Richmond County School Board members be limited to serve only 2 four-year terms?
Yes............................. 5,827
No.................................. 698
7. Should the sheriff, solicitor general, coroner, clerk of superior court, probate judge, tax  commissioner and civil court judges elections be nonpartisan?
Yes............................. 5,469
No.................................. 876
8. Should the Augusta-Richmond County Commission pass an ordinance banning smoking in public places?
Yes............................. 4,051
No............................... 2,495
9. Should the state of Georgia pass legislation to allow for gambling on horse racing in Georgia?
Yes............................. 2,767
No............................... 3,738
10. Should the Augusta- Richmond County Commission pay for the moving of families out of Hyde Park subdivision?
Yes............................. 1,587
No............................... 4,772

(Democrats)
77 of 77 precincts

1. Should the Georgia Constitution be amended to allow the state to override locally elected school boards’ decisions when it comes to the creation of charter schools in your county or city?
Yes............................11,181
No............................. 16,335
2. Do you support ending current practice permitting unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators?
Yes............................18,513
No............................... 9,226
3. Should Georgia adopt an income tax credit for home energy costs to support the economic security of our families?
Yes............................21,746
No................................6,104
4. Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?
Yes........................... 24,924
No............................... 3,371
5. Currently, the candidates for mayor and commissioners qualify as non-partisan. Would you like the law changed so that they qualify as partisan (Democrat or Republican)?
Yes............................13,976
No............................. 13,386

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