Republican Chairman Charlotte Nash (right) defeated Democrat Jim Shealey (center) in the race for chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

It’s official: Gwinnett County turns purple

After more than three decades as a Republican stronghold, Gwinnett County delivered a partial victory to Democrats in Tuesday’s election.

With all precincts reporting, Clinton won 51 percent of the vote to Donald Trump’s 45 percent. It’s the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has won Gwinnett since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Meanwhile, Republicans maintained their lock on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. In unofficial returns, incumbent Republican Charlotte Nash defeated Democrat Jim Shealey by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent in the race for commission chairman.

In District 3, incumbent Republican Commissioner Tommy Hunter defeated Democrat Jasper Watkins III by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.

Democrats had hoped Gwinnett’s changing demographics would give them a shot at their first County Commission seat since 1986.

Nash, a Republican, was first elected in a 2011 special election. She won her second full term.

Transportation was a key issue in the race to be the top elected official in Georgia’s second-largest county. Shealey said Gwinnett should embrace rail transit to take cars off Gwinnett’s congested highways. Nash said solutions to Gwinnett’s traffic problems will emerge from its ongoing long-range transportation plan, but voters should have the final say.

Hunter, first elected four years ago, said he wants to build on the accomplishments of his first term. A sales representative for an engineering firm, he cites his efforts to restore trust in government, as well as capital improvements like the widening of the intersection of Braselton Highway and Mount Moriah Road.

Watkins is a retired military pharmacist and a former director of pharmacy for the Florida Department of Health. He cites transportation and employee pay as top concerns.

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