Recount coming in prosecutor race; Precinct by precinct breakdown of contested races, school levy

Ozark Countians wait outside the courthouse in Gainesville Tuesday night for precinct vote counts to be posted on boards leaning against the ramp railing.

Two of the decisions on last week’s primary election ballot in Ozark County resulted in razor-thin victories, and a recount has been requested in one of the races – the challenge by attorney John Russo for the job of prosecuting attorney, currently held by John Garrabrant.

The other close decision came in the Gainesville school district’s proposal to increase its operating levy by 75 cents, an issue that failed by 14 votes out of 1,394 total votes cast. (See related story, page 3.)

The prosecuting attorney race garnered 1,071 votes for incumbent Garrabrant and 1,063 votes for Russo, a difference of 8 votes. Ozark County Circuit Clerk Becki Strong confirmed Monday that Russo had filed a petition for recount. Associate Circuit Judge Elizabeth Bock has been assigned to the case, according to online court records. 

She will decide how many judges will be required for the recount. Then the two candidates, Russo and Garrabrant, will provide names of proposed representatives to serve on their behalf in the recount process, and from those names the judge will choose an equal number of judges to represent each candidate. 

Ozark County Clerk Brian Wise told the Times Monday that the recount, when it happens, will take one day, and the judges will open the ballots from all 11 precincts, one precinct at a time (absentees are considered a precinct); they will recount only the race for prosecuting attorney, hand-tallying the results. 

 Judges for the recount will be paid by the county with equal compensation to what judges receive when they work on election day. At press time Tuesday, no date had been set for the recount date. 


Winners in the Aug. 7 primary

Ozark County has 7,408 registered voters, and 2,528 ballots were cast in the primary – a 34.13 percent turnout.

In addition to the prosecuting attorney race and the Gainesville school district’s levy request, three additional locally contested races were decided in the Aug. 7 primary: Gainesville attorney Ray Gross defeated incumbent Cynthia MacPherson 1,261 to 877 for the position of associate circuit judge, and incumbent John Turner won 1,318 votes over challenger Seth Smith’s 741 votes for the position of Ozark County presiding commissioner. Before the election, Smith had told the Times he was withdrawing from the race, but his name still appeared on the ballot. 

In the third contested race, Ozark County residents cast 1,588 votes for Wasola resident Karla Eslinger for state representative in the 155th District. Thornfield resident Mike Lind received 409 Ozark County votes, and Taney County resident Jack L. Clemans received 155 Ozark County votes. District-wide, these totals were cast, according to the secretary of state’s website: Eslinger, 4,343; Lind, 1,439; and Clemans, 1,882.

Those running in uncontested Ozark County races collected these totals: Circuit Judge Craig Carter, 1,715 votes in Ozark County’s 11 precincts and 7,348 votes total in the 35 precincts of the 44th Judicial Circuit; County Clerk Brian Wise, 1,812 votes; Circuit Clerk/Recorder Becki Strong, 1,845 votes; Treasurer Phyllis Gaulding Turner, 1,719 votes; Collector Darla Sullivan (running unopposed for the seat being vacated by Bill Hambelton, who is retiring), 1,822 votes.

In Ozark County 1,118 “yes” votes were cast for Missouri Proposition A, and 1,342  “no” votes were cast. Statewide, the proposition failed by a count of 937,241 to 452,075. The proposition asked voters to adopt legislation passed by the General Assembly that would have prohibited, as a condition of employment, forced membership in a labor union or the forced payment of union dues. 

All candidates in the Ozark County races ran as Republicans. No Democrats filed for county seats or for the District 155 state representative position. For precinct and county totals in statewide races or the U.S. Senate race, visit the secretary of state’s website at 


Official totals change slightly

Vote totals announced on election night changed by one or two votes in some races when the votes were certified Friday and the official election results were announced by County Clerk Brian Wise. No changes in winners and losers occurred due to the change in totals. 

Wise said it’s quite common for vote totals to change slightly during the election certification process – for various reasons. One common reason is because, in every election, there’s almost always at least one ballot, and sometimes a few more, where the ballot couldn’t be read by the voting machine – often when the voter didn’t mark his or her vote as instructed on the ballot itself. In those cases, during certification, the election judges examine those ballots, and when the voter’s intent is clear, the judges – one Republican and one Democrat – can agree on how the votes on that ballot should be credited. 

In the primary, the certified election results reported on Friday showed one additional vote in these races compared with the unofficial results announced on election night:  Karla Eslinger (state representative), Craig Carter (circuit judge), Phyllis Gaulding Turner (county treasurer), John Garrabrant (prosecuting attorney) and Darla Sullivan (collector). 

One additional yes vote and one additional no vote were added to the Proposition A question, and one more yes vote was added in favor of the Gainesville school levy proposition. 

The certified election results showed two additional votes for Ray Gross (associate circuit judge) and Brian Wise (county clerk).


Gainesville school levy totals by precinct

Residents of eight of Ozark County’s 11 precincts voted on the Gainesville school levy proposal. The proposal got more yes votes in three of the eight precincts – Bridges, Pontiac and Absentee – and the issue tied in the Lick Creek precinct with 58 votes each. These votes were cast:

• Barren Fork (Wasola): 73 yes, 126 no (53 more no votes)

• Big Creek (Theodosia): 1 yes, 6 no (five more no votes)

• Bridges (voting in the courthouse): 336 yes, 279 no (57 more yes votes)

• Dawt: 51 yes, 69 no (18 more no votes)

• Jackson (voting at Rockbridge): 20 yes, 45 no (25 more no votes)

• Lick Creek (Howards Ridge): 58 yes, 58 no 

• Pontiac: 62 yes, 51 no (11 more yes votes)

• Absentee: 89 yes, 70 no (19 more yes votes)


Associate circuit judge totals by precinct

In the race for associate circuit judge, Ray Gross carried all 11 Ozark County precincts. These votes were cast: 

• Barren Fork (Wasola): Gross 123, MacPherson 102  

• Big Creek (Theodosia): Gross 161, MacPherson 128

• Thornfield: Gross 84, MacPherson 70

• Bridges (Gainesville): Gross 357, MacPherson 201

• Bayou (Bakersfield): Gross 119, MacPherson 85

• Dawt: Gross 66, MacPherson 49

• Jackson (voting at Rockbridge): Gross 34, MacPherson 28

• Lick Creek (Howards Ridge): Gross 54, MacPherson 34

• Pontiac: Gross 50, MacPherson 43

• Richland (Dora): Gross 98, MacPherson 71

• Absentees: Gross 115, MacPherson 66


Prosecuting attorney totals by precinct

In the race for prosecuting attorney, each candidate carried five precincts, and in one precinct, Pontiac, the two candidates tied. Garrabrant won Barren Fork, Big Creek, Thornfield, Bridges and Absentee. Russo carried Bayou, Dawt, Jackson, Lick Creek and Richland. In seven of the 11 precincts, the totals differed by 10 votes or fewer.

• Barren Fork (Wasola): Russo 99, Garrabrant 119

• Big Creek (Theodosia): Russo 143, Garrabrant 144

• Thornfield: Russo 73, Garrabrant 78

• Bridges (Gainesville): Russo 252, Garrabrant 318

• Absentee: Russo 85, Garrabrant 95

• Dawt: Russo 59, Garrabrant 58

• Bayou (Bakersfield): Russo, 117, Garrabrant 83

• Jackson (voting at Rockbridge): Russo 31, Garrabrant 29

• Lick Creek (Howards Ridge): Russo 57, Garrabrant 32

• Richland: Russo 100, Garrabrant 68

• Pontiac: Russo 47, Garrabrant 47



155th District State Representative by Ozark County precinct

Karla Eslinger carried Ozark County as well as Douglas County in the race for 155th District representative. By 21 votes, Jack Clemans, a Taney County resident, carried the portion of Taney County included in the 155th District. In Douglas County, the totals were Eslinger 1,5897, Lind 517 and Clemans 537. In Taney County, the totals were Eslinger 1,169, Lind 513, Clemans 1,190.

 These votes were cast in Ozark County for the three candidates running for the 155th District state representative seat:

• Barren Fork (Wasola): Eslinger 185, Lind, 38, Clemans 17 

• Big Creek (Theodosia): Eslinger 190, Lind 68, Clemans 27

• Thornfield: Eslinger 117, Lind 29, Clemans 12

• Bridges (Gainesville): Eslinger 471, Lind 58, Clemans 38

• Bayou (Bakersfield): Eslinger 102, Lind 84, Clemans 11

• Dawt: Eslinger 77, Lind 26, Clemans 13

• Jackson (voting at Rockbridge): Eslinger 51, Lind 12, Clemans 2

• Lick Creek (Howards Ridge): Eslinger 63, Lind 23, Clemans 4

• Pontiac: Eslinger 68, Lind 10, Clemans 7

• Richland: Eslinger 118, Lind 35, Clemans 12

• Absentee: Eslinger 146, Lind 26, Clemans 12



Presiding commissioner totals by precinct

Incumbent John Turner won all 11 precincts in the race for Ozark County presiding commissioner.

His challenger, Isabella resident Seth Smith, announced before the election that he was withdrawing from the race, but his name still appeared on the ballot, and these votes were cast:

• Barren Fork (Wasola): Turner 120, Smith 87

• Big Creek (Theodosia): Turner 184, Smith 92

• Thornfield: Turner 109, Smith 35

• Bridges (Gainesville): Turner 322, Smith 224

• Bayou (Bakersfield): Turner 135, Smith 60

• Dawt: Turner 79, Smith 36

• Jackson (voting at Rockbridge): Turner 36, Smith 26 

• Lick Creek (Howards Ridge): Turner 50, Smith 36

• Pontiac: Turner 63, Smith 28

• Richland: Turner 110, Smith 54

• Absentee: 110, Smith 63

Ozark County Times

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