Sessions judge closest of 4 contested races in county-wide general election

Monroe takes bench, Browning dominates, and Mayor Reagan, county clerk Watson re-elected

By THOMAS P. WEAVER
HORIZON Editor
 

CLAY COUNTY-Two out of three current office-holders who made a bid for re-election against an opponent retained their seats here in this year’s general election, while the fourth contested race–for the vacated road superintendent seat–was overwhelmingly one-sided.

Incumbents reclaimed the county mayor and county clerk offices, but a new general sessions judge will soon be sworn in after emerging from the closest countywide race.

The other four county-wide seats on the ballot–those held by Sheriff Brandon Boone, circuit court clerk Susan Birdwell, trustee Charlie Key, and register of deeds Brenda Browning–saw no opposition.

Monroe is new judge

Diana Monroe unseated longtime general sessions judge Jimmy White in the tightest of four contested county-wide races by a slim 272-vote (9.35%) margin to reclaim the seat she previously held for one term from 1990-1998.

White, who is serving out his 16th year as judge and was re-elected to his second term in 2006, secured 1,317 votes (45.29%) compared to Monroe’s 1,589 winning total (54.64%).

Monroe won six out of seven precincts across the county, while White only claimed victory in Hermitage Springs by a 297-229 margin.  Monroe had her largest margins with 60% or more of the vote at Butler’s Landing (222-134) and Maple Grove (69-41), while she also won at Denton’s Crossroads (366-280), Celina (348-275), Beech Bethany (159-136), and Pea Ridge (196-154).

Browning dominates

Jason Browning dominated the race to replace retiring longtime road superintendent Ernest Garrsion by claiming well over 70% of the vote.

He defeated Eugene Hix 2,150 to 768 and won all seven precincts by a wide margin.

Browning challenged Garrison four years ago, but came up short after making a respectable run against the veteran highway commissioner.  He will now head up the county highway department for the next four years.

Reagan is re-elected

County mayor Dale Reagan will again continue his work here for another four years after decisively fending off three challengers to claim convincing victory.

Reagan garnered over half (51.33%) the vote in the four-man race to nearly double-up his closest challenger Daniel Stewart.  The incumbent received 1,483 votes, while the former county commissioner mustered 805 to finish as the runner-up.  Former Celina alderman Joey Locke came in a distance third with 306 votes, while Wally Maxwell rounded out the race with 294.

Like Browning, Reagan won all seven precincts, but he only had a one-vote margin in one.  At Pea Ridge, he slipped by Stewart by a tally of 135-134.  Reagan was re-elected to his third term after taking office back in 2006.

Watson wins county clerk

County clerk Donna Watson won her re-election bid by claiming a   clear victory over challenger Donna Brown Hamilton taking over 60% of the overall vote.

Watson’s 1,793 votes handed her a second term, while Hamilton received 1,161 (39.30%) in the two-person race.

The incumbent won all seven precincts and captured over 60% of the vote in all but two of them–Hermitage Springs (55.30%) and Denton’s Crossroads (55.78%).

Watson was first elected in 2010 to replace the retiring Pat Hix after winning the office over eight other candidates.

Others get good vote

Sheriff Brandon Boone, circuit court clerk Susan Birdwell, trustee Charlie Key, and register of deeds Brenda Browning all received a large number of complimentary votes as they ran unopposed in this year’s election.

They all received over 2,000, but as in years past, longtime incumbent Key again finished as the top vote-getter among all county-wide candidates with a total of 2,386.

Browning wasn’t far off Key’s pace with 2,370, Boone was on their heels with 2,385, and Birdwell finished with 2,170.

Key and Browning will soon begin their fifth term, Birdwell her third, and Boone his second.