Public Defender Dan Bryant was denied a third term of office by voters who chose newcomer John Partin to succeed him in representing the 31st Judicial District. Meanwhile, Circuit Court Clerk Bernie Morris has been given a sixth term, defeating challenger Ramsey Womack in commanding fashion.
The offices of public defender and circuit court clerk were the two elections decided by the Democratic Primary since there are no candidates waiting in the general election in August.
Partin won his first term as public defender by beating the incumbent by a count of 3,409 to 1,888 in Warren County, and 776 to 749 in Van Buren County. The two counties combine to make up the 31st District. The number represents a 64 to 36 percent win. Bryant won only the Eastside precinct.
Partin’s win comes following a stark divergence between the two during the campaign. Bryant, who has served 16 years in the office reminded voters of the old adage of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” while Partin told voters he could do a better job.
“Dan Bryant has done a good job and I want to thank him for his service,” Partin said. “I’m honored the people put their trust in me.”
Partin takes over Sept. 1.
Meanwhile, as one veteran public servant was being unseated, another won in a landslide. Bernie Morris defeated Ramsey Womack by a count of 3,877 to 1,307. That is a percentage of 75 to 25, meaning she won 3-to-1. She swept all precincts.
For Morris, Tuesday marked the first time she has faced opposition for reelection since she was first elected as circuit clerk 20 years ago. Her win comes despite being outspent by her challenger more than 10-to-1.
“I didn’t put out campaign signs,” Morris admitted. “But the way I figured it, you put out signs to let people know who you are. They already know me.”
Morris said the clerk’s job is a tough one and will get even tougher since they are going to a new computer system.
“I have a great staff to help me,” Morris said. “Hopefully everybody thinks I’m doing a good job.”