Retired Talbot County School Superintendent John Terry defeated long-time Sheriff John W. "Bill" Johnson in Tuesday's runoff to decide the Democratic nominee for county Probate Court judge.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Herman Howard also eked out a victory in the runoff for the party nomination to succeed Johnson as sheriff, a post Johnson has held for more than three decades.
Johnson was bidding to become the third member of his family to serve as Probate judge. His brother, Joe S. "Slade" Johnson, retires Dec. 31 after 15 years in the post, and their father, the late Joe S. Johnson Sr., was Probate judge for 28 years.
Terry, 64, who served several terms as superintendent of the small, rural school district, wound up with 1,110 votes to 904 for Johnson, 65, in a hotly contested race. He still faces announced write-in candidate Dellia Culpepper in the November General Election, but has no Republican or independent opposition.
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Terry would become the county's first African-American Probate judge.
Howard, 68, who served as both chief deputy and county road superintendent for years, received 1,029 votes to 992 for Deputy Sheriff Bobby Gates, 62 — a difference of 37 votes — to capture the Democratic nomination.
Howard, who lives outside Talbotton, also would become the first African-American sheriff in the county. He still faces independent Calvin Willis, police chief of Woodland, in the general election.
A total of 493 absentee and 146 early votes were cast, as 48 percent of registered voters, or 2,055, cast ballots in the runoff.