(Photo: Phillip Hartline celebrates his handy victory in the District 2 Dade County Commission race Tuesday night surrounded by beautiful women--wife, Jennifer, and daughters, from left, Malia, 7 months, Lahna, 8, and Emma, 11.)
Challenger Phillip Hartline whipped Scottie Pittman rather soundly Tuesday night in the Republican primary runoff for the District 2, or Sand Mountain, Dade County Commission seat that Pittman has held for 16 years.
Hartline had almost tied Pittman in the primary on May 22, but there were two other contenders and neither candidate got the required 50 percent plus one of the total vote. This time, there is no ambiguity: Hartline took 405 votes to Pittman's 241. That's 60.47 percent to 39.53.
It was a dramatic upset that seems to signal a desire for change on the part of the voters. Hartline had campaigned along those lines, saying he'd decided he was so fed up with the status quo he'd decided his choices were to move, learn to shut up or run for office. Asked Tuesday what he wanted to change, Hartline replied: "I want things more out in the open and I would like, when we vote on something, to get what we vote on and not get it railroaded after we vote on it."
He acknowledged he was talking about liquor by the drink. Dade voted in 2016 to allow restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages but the commission's restrictive ordinance has effectively kept any establishments from doing so. Only this month the first license was finally granted to Geneva's Mtn Top Cafe on Lookout Mountain. Hartline said he approved of that long-awaited consummation, had visited the restaurant and talked to the owners, and didn't see why Sand Mountain shouldn't have places like that, too.
"I think Sand Mountain can have just as nice restaurants as anywhere," said Hartline. "It's just getting people to want to open them up."
Scottie Pittman was not present at the Dade Board of Elections office to await the outcome of today's vote. He was on assignment for his job with Norfolk Southern out of town.
Only 10.86 of Dade's 10050 registered voters cast ballots in this runoff.
Hartline says he plans to attend county commission meetings for the rest of the year. "I'm hired now, so now is my time to get ready for Jan. 1," he said.