COVINGTON -- Keith Ellis is the new chairman of the Board of Commissioners, beating Democrat Marcus Jordan by 742 votes, according to unofficial results reported by the Board of Elections Office Tuesday night.
Ellis received 50.89 percent of the vote, or 21,144 votes, to Jordan's 20,402 votes.
"It was a thin margin and I congratulate Marcus. They ran an organized race and a clean race," Ellis said Wednesday morning. Ellis said he had already spoken with Jordan and a number of county officials. He said he'll work with all officials, whether newly elected or not.
"We're going to return the respect of the people to the commissioners' seats and all get working together," he said. Ellis thanked the volunteers who assisted with his campaign and said he's looking forward to spending time with his family now that the campaigning is done. "At some point, we're going to have a steak," he said.
And, "Even though it was a thin margin, I wound up getting more votes than Mitt Romney in Newton County," he joked.
Indeed, Newton voters chose Barack Obama as their president, by 50.55 percent of the vote to Romney's 48.54 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson getting .91 percent of the vote. A total of 43,216 ballots were cast in the presidential race, with Romney getting 20,979, Obama receiving 21,844 and Johnson netting 393.
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz won a second term, handily beating Republican Kevin Wade with 70.59 percent of the vote. Shulz garnered 6,399 votes to Wade's 2,666.
"I'm thrilled. I'm really excited that the voters in District 3 gave me this opportunity to serve them again," Schulz said.
During her campaign, Schulz said that if reelected her number one priority would be the economy and jobs, specifically attracting new businesses and retaining existing businesses.
In the District 5 commission race, Republican Levie Maddox netted 61.13 percent of the vote to beat Democrat Marcello Banes. Maddox received 5,352 votes to Banes' 3,403 votes.
Maddox declared himself to be "the luckiest guy in the world."
"I feel incredibly humbled and grateful to the citizens of the county. I absolutely realize if you do the job right it's a burden and a challenge and I'm truly looking forward to that," he said.
Sheriff Ezell Brown will serve a second term in office, beating Republican challenger and Covington Police Department Capt. Philip Bradford with 56.21 percent of the vote. Brown bested Bradford by more than 5,000 votes, receiving 23,763 votes to Bradford's 18,510 votes.
"I want to thank God for his power and thanks to each and every voter who participated in the election process. I asked you to give me four more years so that we can continue our work together and thank you for the vote of confidence you gave me on yesterday," Brown said. "I look forward with great enthusiasm to build on our legacy of serving and protecting all citizens of Newton County. We will continue to operate in a spirit of open- mindedness, inclusiveness and transparency. Thank you for re-electing a sheriff with proven leadership."
Democrat Eddie Johnson will retain his District 2 seat on the Newton County Board of Education, winning over Republican Ricky Corley with 54.25 percent of the vote. Johnson received 4,610 votes to Corley's 3,887. Johnson could not be reached for comment.
In the race for coroner, incumbent Tommy Davis beat Democrat Robert Bradley with 52.53 percent of the vote.
"I am real proud of the outcome of the vote and proud to be elected again as the coroner ," Davis said. "I look forward to serving the citizens of Newton County. I'm pleased with the outcome of our election, and I look forward to the next four years."
All three referendums related to alcohol sales in unincorporated Newton County passed. Allowing distilled spirits sales by the drink in the unincorporated county was approved by nearly 68.93 percent of voters; alcohol by the drink sales on Sundays and package sales of beer and wine on Sundays were approved by more than 64 percent.
Voter turnout was just shy of 75 percent, with 43,425 of the county's 57,939 registered voters casting ballots.
The number of provisional and military ballots and information on when they will be counted was not available. Results must be certified by Tuesday.
News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this story.