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New commissioner for Macon

New commissioner for Macon

The Macon County Commission will see one new member seated in December after Barry Breeden beat incumbent Paul Higdon to represent district three. 

“Thank you all for the encouragement you have given me,” Breeden said during the campaign. “I appreciate the support as I pursue such an important position in our county. I am honored to be a part of this community.” 

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Barry and Deidre Breeden. File photo

There were two seats up for election this cycle on the Macon County Commission to represent districts two and three. Because only Republican candidates filed to run, the race was decided during the Primary Election, but candidates won’t be seated until after the General Election.

Primary Election results will not be official until after Canvass at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 15. There are 40 provisional ballots to consider on Canvass Day, which is not enough to change the results of either contest. 

In District two, incumbent candidate Josh Young beat his opponent Chris Browning by a wide margin. Young won 61.05 % of the vote, or 3,935 votes, to Browning’s 38.95% or
2,511 votes.

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“I wanted to give a sincere ‘thank you’ to Macon County,” Young said in a post on Facebook. “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to keep working for our small community. All the love, support and trust shown over the past few weeks has been so humbling to see. Thank you again.”

Young was first elected to the county commission in 2020 when he won the seat previously held by Republican Karl Gillespie, who served one term on the Macon County Commission before going on to run for Kevin Corbin’s seat in the state House.

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Josh Young. File photo

Young is a fifth-generation Maconian who worked as a utility lineman for eight years before starting his own business in Macon County — Young Tree Service. Browning had previously run for Sheriff of Macon County in 2022.

Breeden beat Higdon with 51.78 % of the vote, or 3,319 votes. Higdon logged 48.22% of the vote, or
3,091 votes.

Breeden is a 1999 graduate of Franklin High School and is married to Diedre Breeden, who was elected to the Macon County Board of Education in 2022. Breeden has worked as a branch manager for two finance companies and served as a deputy sheriff where he worked his way up to patrol sergeant. Currently he owns and operates several local businesses. 

“I want to look to the future, finding ways to continue to drive economic growth, capitalize on the fact that Macon County is a desirable tourist destination and let that benefit our citizens and our future,” Breeden said during his campaign. 

Higdon had served three terms on the Macon County Commission, first winning his seat in 2012. He is a small business owner in wastewater construction, previously serving in the United States Army. He holds a degree in environmental health science and biology and worked for 10 years at the Macon County Health Department as an inspector and environmental health supervisor.   

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Paul Higdon. File photo

While on the board, Higdon worked to keep spending in check, often voting against tax increases and new spending. 

“As a principled conservative, I believe elected leaders must avoid the tax and spend philosophy common at most levels of government,” said Higdon during his campaign.

Turnout in the primary election was down just slightly from the last primary election with commission candidates on the ballot. In 2022, 8,651 Macon County voters cast a ballot while 8,415 voted in this year’s primary.  

While the winning candidates will be on the ballot in November, they will be unopposed in their districts.

However, candidates could be joined by a familiar referendum on the ballot. Commissioners recently floated the idea of putting the quarter-cent sales tax back on the ballot for a referendum this November. When the option to increase the sales tax by one quarter of a cent appeared on the Macon County ballot in 2022, 55% of voters rejected the measure. At that time, revenues from the additional tax were going to be earmarked for the high school project.

The quarter-cent sales tax, which would apply to residents and out-of-towners alike, is projected to accrue about $2.4 million for the county annually.

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