Candidate Tommy Hunter celebrates his victory of the District 3 Board of Commissioners runoff race with his daughter Lauren, 15, at their Buford home on Tuesday. Hunter defeated his opponent Mike Beaudreau. District 4 Planning Commissioner Clint Dixon, looks on.
LAWRENCEVILLE — The third time was the charm for Tommy Hunter, who prevailed in a tight race for county commission in a runoff Tuesday.
While a recount could be in order, the winner of the GOP balloting does not face a Democrat in November.
“Thank God. We worked hard enough for it,” Hunter said, just before thanking supporters. “We’re going to do what we said we would do.”
Hunter’s victory came in 4,577 to 4,521, just 56 votes more than Gwinnett’s longest-serving current Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, according to unofficial results.
That means that, come January, the longest serving board member will have just two years experience, after the unexpected resignations of embattled politicians Charles Bannister, Kevin Kenerly and Shirley Lasseter among a string of ethics issues, including bribery allegations.
As ballots were counted, Beaudreau kept the lead in the tight race until about 10:20 p.m., when a flurry of precincts brought Hunter the top spot.
Beaudreau, who did not immediately return a phone call late Tuesday, focused his campaign on his eight years on the commission, working on issues such as reducing government spending.
But the recent exits of commissioners under clouds of impropriety may have had more to do with the tight election than unpopular decisions on initiatives such as a countywide trash plan and the building of a minor-league baseball stadium.
While Beaudreau was not implicated in a special grand jury report involving questionable land deals or part of the recent bribery allegations, the cases spurred an anti-incumbent sentiment in the community, with many believing that public trust could only be rebuilt with a new slate of commissioners.
Beaudreau came in first place in the four-man GOP primary in July and nearly reached the 50 percent mark to avoid the runoff.
But Hunter, who was in his third race for the county commission, mounted a big fight, possibly getting an Election Day boost due to the last-minute endorsement of popular Sheriff Butch Conway.
The father of two from Buford hopes to bring some of his engineering expertise to issues such as water and transportation. He is a former county staffer who has served on the Water and Sewerage Authority and Planning Commission.