Hickman elected in tight race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

In an extremely tight race, District 3 County Commissioner Frank Hickman on Tuesday defeated newcomer Gene Gibson to hang on to the seat he was appointed to three years ago.

Hickman faces no opposition in November.

This was Hickman’s first run for political office. Gov. Don Siegelman appointed him to the post following the death of Commissioner Joe Hendrix.

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It was quite evident that the local partner in the Hartley & Hickman Law Firm was humbled by the show of support he had in the run-off. He also congratulated his opponent on a hard fought campaign.

&uot;I am overwhelmed by the support I received in District Three,&uot; he said.

&uot;I don’t think there is any question the pull I received in Greenville made the difference.&uot;

Hickman campaigned hard on the fact that voters in Greenville should consider the race for commission as vital to them as their city council races.

He gave Gibson the nod on taking the prescients outside the city limits.

&uot;To carry Greenville gave me the cushion I needed,&uot; he said. &uot;Gene has worked hard in the community and lived there and he earned those votes.&uot;

The newly elected commissioner said he believes people wanted to keep him working for progress.

&uot;I think a lot of people voted for me because they voted for progress and I just appreciate it very much,&uot; he said.

&uot;I think this was an opportunity for the voters to decide whether or not they wanted to move forward with the economy. I’m not saying that Gene would not have done that as well.&uot;

Hickman said he believes his background will help the commission and the county in the next four years.

&uot;I have some gifts and skills because of my education and training that I am blessed to have,&uot; he said. &uot;I think I can be an asset in the next four years as we continue to pursue suppliers for Hyundai and other industrial opportunities. Throughout this country and the Southeast people know where Butler County is. We are on the map economically. This is a rare opportunity and we have to take advantage of it.&uot;

Now, Hickman can ease up on the campaigning since he faces no opposition in November.

He said he now can say he has been tested on the campaign trail, but appreciates the appointment that put him in the position.

&uot;I was humbled by the appointment,&uot; he said. &uot;When you’re appointed you don’t quite feel validated because you have not stood the test of the public. I think being elected validates my presence there. I greatly appreciate the votes I received and everyone that supported me.&uot;

Gibson expressed his thanks for the support he received and also congratulated Hickman on the win.

&uot;I would say this was one of the closest races,&uot; he said. &uot;Frank ran a good campaign and I got out and did the best I could. I appreciate the people that supported me. I had a lot of help and I won’t forget it.&uot;

He praised the people of District Three for their kindness.

&uot;There are a lot of nice people in District Three and I enjoyed meeting them,&uot; he said.

&uot;I will miss seeing them.&uot;

Gibson made it clear that people should not count him as finished by saying simply, &uot;I’ll be back.&uot;

Hickman defeated Gibson with 470 votes to 366 votes.

In the other contested race of the day, political newcomer Margaret Pierce made a strong showing against the incumbent, Gary Hanks for the District 1 seat. However, the Providence prescient put Hanks over the top by 18 votes.

It was very reminiscent of four years ago when Hanks scraped by Charles DeShields with just a few votes.

&uot;I can’t take many more of these close races,&uot; said.

&uot;I just can’t say enough to the voters of District One for turning out.&uot;

While Hanks took the night Tuesday, he will face opposition in November against Republican Jerry Hartin.

&uot;I have to go again in November so I am going to take a week off and get back at it,&uot; he said. &uot;I just can’t thank the voters enough.&uot;

Pierce congratulated Hanks on his win, but assured her supporters she would return in the future.

&uot;It has been a terrific experience,&uot; she said.

&uot;It is something I would not trade anything in the world for tonight. It was a very close race.&uot;

She said she ran her campaign the fair and honest way and she is proud of it and she thanks God for the strength she had to do it.

&uot;I would like to thank God for keeping me healthy,&uot; she said. &uot;I would also like to thank my husband who has pushed me forward all the way.&uot;

She also said whoever wins in November had better be prepared.

&uot;I plan to keep him on his toes,&uot; she said.

Final tally for that race was 368 votes for Hanks to 350 votes for Pierce.

There were a total of 1,554 votes cast in the runoff.