Smith wins by landslide

Published 3:38 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

By By Mary-Allison Lancaster & Lydia Grimes
Sheriff Grover Smith was doing the math himself Tuesday night.
Gathered with supporters at the East Brewton Civic Center, he tallied results on a dry erase board as vote totals trickled in.
Smith, in office just one term, beat challenger Tim Hawsey by nearly 2 to 1 Tuesday night in the Democratic primary.
Smith had 3,032 votes to Hawsey's 1,749 votes, with all precincts in Escambia County reporting.
"I'm overwhelmed. I can't say enough about the hundreds of people who went to such great lengths to get me elected," Smith said after capturing the win. "It makes you aware how important friends and helping people is. For the next four years I will be trying to do what the people want me to do."
Despite the loss, Hawsey was supportive of Smith's re-election into office.
"I want to congratulate Sheriff Smith on his re-election as the sheriff of Escambia County," Hawsey said. "He has been my sheriff for the past three years and will continue to be my sheriff. My sincere prayers will be with him as he continues the important responsibilities of the office. I thank God for his direction in my life. A few days ago, God gave me a peace about the election and I am OK."
The sheriff's race was the only contested county-wide ballot Tuesday.
But it was a race that likely seemed very familiar to Escambia County voters.
Smith beat Hawsey – then a 20-year incumbent – in 2002.
Voter turnout was about 33 percent in Escambia County.
Few problems were reported at the polls, although a voting place had to be moved from the old North Brewton School to Jackson Plumbing nearby because of vandalism at the school.
Victory party
More than 75 supporters gathered at the civic center with Smith, and by 7:45 p.m., Hawsey had only carried one box. Little children swarmed around, tossing balloons in the air while adults milled around the long table displaying chicken and other food.
As the votes poured in, more supporters moved from their chairs, threw away their half-eaten plates and inched closer to the platform, peering at the dry erase board.
"I think that we're gonna be all right," Smith said as he told his supporters he would be moving over to the courthouse.
Inside the probate judge's office, ballots were being counted as fast as the boxes arrived.
The drug problem, strong traffic enforcement and easy accessibility were among the top three promises Smith said he would focus on during his next four years. To be better accessible, Smith said he now has messages from his telephone at home forwarded to his cell phone. With the exception of the rare few, Smith said he hopes to answer all calls made to him.
"I can never repay those people, but I can try," he said, referring to all the people who went to great lengths to support him and his campaign.
In his campaign, Smith emphasized the work he did to improve the jail, including installing new locks, as well as his work to earn grants to pay for new programs and investigators.
Smith also noted that he has worked with the county commission to improve incentives for deputies, in an effort to attract and keep better employees.
Hawsey, meanwhile, emphasized accomplishments during his two decades as sheriff, including law enforcement training, education programs in schools and drug enforcement.
Both men kept a fairly low profile in the campaign, mainly putting up signs, buying local advertisements and shaking hands with residents.
Hawsey also maintained a Web site with information about his campaign.
Because both men ran as Democrats and there is no Republican opposition, the race will not be on the ballot in the November election.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox