HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The last few days have been exhausting for Madison County tax collector candidate Drew McKay, but the sleepless nights and long hours were worth it.
McKay, 32, won the Republican primary Tuesday evening against challenger Glenn Watson, a former Huntsville City Councilman for 12 years. Complete but unofficial returns show McKay took 65 percent (13,472) of the vote, while Watson nabbed 35 percent (7,134).
McKay, who ran unsuccessfully for the Madison County Commission in 2012 and tax assessor in 2008, will face longtime Democratic incumbent Lynda Hall in the Nov. 4 general election.
“First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and savior,” McKay said shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday. “Without him, none of this would’ve been possible.”
After a long day of last-minute campaigning, McKay and his supporters celebrated his win with a late-night meal from Steak-Out.
Watson watched the returns come in from his sub sandwich restaurant on Jordan Lane. He told AL.com he was “believe it or not – not the least bit disappointed” in the outcome of the race.
“I lost the race, but I gave it all I could, so what happens, happens,” he said. “The good Lord makes the decision.”
McKay is a property manager for McKay Properties and a day trader. He also started and owned a maintenance grounds business in Madison County.
McKay told AL.com he is an advocate for satellite office efficiency and courteous, timely service in the tax collector’s office.
Watson is the founder of Stanlieo’s Sub Villa, a 43-year-old sub shop with locations on Jordan Lane and Governors Drive. The 73-year-old small business owner works as a substitute teacher.
Watson also served as a police officer for eight years. The father of three with four grandchildren wanted to streamline the property tax payment system and be more available to taxpayers.
He was also passionate about combining the offices of tax collector and assessor. During a special election last fall, Madison County residents voted in favor of keeping the offices separate.
In an interview with both of the candidates last month, McKay opposed the idea of combining the offices.
“I feel that if the citizens of Madison County want that office to be combined, then they’ll voice their opinion further down the road,” he said. “But, that subject and that issue has already been hit and I feel it’s a moot point right now for the citizens of our county.”
Watson said the low voter turnout was a letdown.
“If we don’t stand up and vote, we’re going to end up with people that maybe shouldn’t be here,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s the case in Huntsville, but it could happen. If people don’t care, they have no right to complain.”
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