TIFTON -- Until the final absentee votes were posted Tuesday night, neither candidate in the Tift County Board of Education District 7 race were moving a muscle.

But when those votes were posted, longtime Tift County educator Liz Carson Keith was elected to the seat, defeating Republican rival Andy Cross 1,901 to 1,740. Keith held a slim lead after the 12 precincts reported and held a 70-vote advantage among absentees.

"It was really close, too close for comfort," Keith said. "Andy ran a really, really classy race and I he continues to show an interest in our school system and getting involved. Tonight was very nerve-wracking."

Keith, the Adult Literacy instructor at the Tiftarea campus of Moultrie Technical College, will fill the District 7 seat which Joseph Carter vacated to run for the state Senate. Carter was successful in that bid Tuesday night, defeating Cordele's Carden Summers for the Senate District 13 post.

"I am really looking forward to doing a lot of good things on the board, things that are good for the children of this county," Keith said. "I want my fellow educators to keep me abreast of the important issues and I will listen to them."

Cross, a pharmaceutical representative, was a political first-timer and he said he has no regrets about running for office.

"I thought it was a great experience," he said. "I had the chance to meet people that I necessarily wouldn't see every day. I had a great time and don't have any complaints."

Keith ran against Carter for his seat in 2000, losing by less than 200 votes. She has spent the last 25 years in education in the area.

"After running the first time, I learned that you have to pace yourself," she said. "I was talking to Joseph when I was out on that corner today and he said he learned something from running the last time as well. We wore each other out and you can't do that. You have to pace yourself. I'm very excited and honored to serve the people of this county."

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