Close finishes in BOC races

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Tight races characterized the pair of Republican runoffs for the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, with both counts coming down to the wire.

After more than 14,000 votes were counted Tuesday night, unofficial results had John Heard besting Tim Sullivan by just 263 votes for the Republican nod in November's election for District 4 commissioner.

Lynette Howard inched out Keith Shewbert for the District 2 nomination.

"It's been a long night," said Heard, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. "I've been about as stressed as I've ever been. Elections, you never know, you work hard and you do the best you can and then it's left up to the voters."

By the end of the night, 7,169 votes (50.93 percent) were counted for Heard. Almost as close as can be, 6,906 votes (49.07 percent) were cast for Sullivan.

With absentee ballots yet to be tallied, Sullivan, a Buford real estate agent and political newcomer, is holding out hope.

In elections, losers that fall within 1 percent of the victor also may request a recount.

"They will be what they will be and we'll see how it goes," Sullivan said. "The absentees aren't in and we don't know what those will be. We remain hopeful and we'll know when it's done for sure."

If unofficial results hold, Heard will face unopposed Democratic candidate John B. Kenney Nov. 2 for the right to represent the area spanning Braselton, Buford, Lawrenceville and Sugar Hill.

In District 2, Howard took 51.96 percent of the 9,620 votes Tuesday, besting Shewbert by 378 votes.

"It was just so tight; I was just tense," Howard said. "I've never really done this. (In the primary), I was definitely going to be in first or second. This being my first time running, it's just amazing."

Shewbert, the owner of 45 South in Norcross and a former Norcross City Council member, led early but Howard pulled away in the unofficial results.

A program developer with the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, Howard will take on lone Democratic candidate Robert Lee Byars to be commissioner over Berkeley Lake, Lilburn and Norcross.

"I just want to thank all of District 2," Howard said. "I really really appreciate it and I promise to make them proud."