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Voters stay the course

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gov. Sonny Perdue checked the top item off his Sonny Do list Tuesday night - winning a second term and leading a slate of Republicans into other offices.

But Democratic incumbents were able to hold onto the offices of agriculture commissioner, labor commissioner and attorney general.

In Gwinnett County, Kevin Kenerly became the first county commissioner in 20 years to win a fourth term. Voters OK'd an extension of the penny sales tax to fund school construction, but balked at a proposed revitalization tool.

On the day that Lawrenceville Mayor Bobby Sikes was buried, Rex Millsaps was elected to take the helm of the county seat, and Loganville citizens re-elected Mayor Tim Barron.

But tight Norcross council races mean election season isn't over in Gwinnett. Voters will return to the polls in that city on Dec. 5.

And if unofficial results hold out, all Georgians may have to go back to the polls to decide their representative on the Public Service Commission.

Grayson and Norcross voters approved liquor measures, while incumbents appeared to win the day in local House and Senate races.

One tight House race southern Gwinnett's District 95 was too close to call with Gwinnett's absentee and provisional ballots uncounted early Wednesday.

Gwinnett Communications Director Joe Sorenson said the counting of 11,000 paper ballots and 8,000 electronic ballots were delayed when the power went out at the new Voter Registrations and Elections Office.

John Linder will continue to represent Gwinnett and Barrow in Congress, and he will be joined by Hank Johnson, who ousted incumbent Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary earlier this year and easily defeated Republican Catherine Davis Tuesday.

The unofficial results were tallied after a gloomy day that brought a higher than expected turnout.

Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Lynn Ledford was surprised by reports of long lines at polls all day Tuesday. She was expected a turnout of about 30 percent, but the number came in at 42 percent.

At Hebron Baptist Church, Sydney MacIntyre brought her 10-year-old son Logan to her polling place.

"I wanted to show my kid you have to do this," she said. "If you want to see changes you have to participate."

Logan cast his ballot during a mock election at school last week, but MacIntyre said she wanted to show him how the real process works.

"If you don't vote, it doesn't do any good. You can't just yell at the walls or the kids," she said with a laugh.

Across the state, the Advancement Project received reports of voters experiencing problems with electronic voting machines.

People reportedly also were asked to provide photo identification, but a law requiring the restricted forms was struck down in court.

But Ledford said she was not aware of any problems with machines here. Barrow officials also did not report problems.

Ledford said the biggest complaint she heard were from some people who did not realize their polling place had moved, but the county sent out new registration cards earlier this year.

Braselton resident Bill Green said people at a local precinct threatened to call the sheriff's department when he, his wife and two kids stood outside the polling place holding signs.

Green said the act has become a family tradition.

"We like to go and get involved with people we like," he said.

This time, the family held signs supporting Supreme Court candidate Mike Wiggins.

Even though they had marked off 150 feet from the building, as state law requires, they were asked to leave by people who work at the church that was serving as the ballot box.

Because the lunch rush was ending, the family left, but Green said he believes poll workers and others at polling places should be trained on the laws.

Other results from Tuesday's election include:

•Barrow County voters approved a homestead exemption for low-income seniors.

•Mike Crow was elected to the Lawrenceville City Council

•Incumbents Mark Kiddoo, Chuck Bagley and Ray Nunley were re-elected to the Loganville City Council.

•Incumbent David McLeroy won another term on the Norcross City Council, but Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lovelady faces a runoff with Jeff Allen and another runoff will pit former councilwoman Julie Barks against Keith Schewbert.

Statewide results include:

•Republican Casey Cagle bested Democrat Jim Martin and Libertarian Allen Buckley for lieutenant governor.

•Fulton Commission Chairwoman Karen Handel took the secretary of state slot for the GOP over Gail Buckner and Libertarian Kevin Madsen.

•School Superintendent Kathy Cox won a second term over Democrat Denise Majette and Libertarian David Chastain.

•Duluth's John Oxendine won another term as Insurance Commissioner over Democrat Guy Drexinger.

•Democrats were able to hold onto three statewide positions. Attorney General Thurbert Baker, Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin and Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond won new terms.

•Republican Stan Wise coasted to re-election in the Public Service Commission's District 5 race, defeating Democrat Dawn Randolph and Libertarian Kevin Cherry.

But the other commission incumbent was in trouble. Democrat David Burgess held a slight lead at press time in the District contest. But with 87 percent of precincts counted, Burgess' 49.2 percent share of the vote was was short of the majority required to avoid a runoff with Republican Chuck Eaton, who had 46 percent. Libertarian Paul MacGregor was third with 4.8 percent.

•In a nonpartisan race, voters statewide re-elected Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein over challenger Mike Wiggins.

•Three constitutional amendments and six referendum questions also passed on the statewide ballot. The most closely followed constitutional change will place new restrictions on eminent domain, the power of government to condemn private property.