Taylor took the largest number of votes at Tuesday's county commissioner primary race with 5,436, or 37.5 percent, of the vote. Bearden came in second with 3,301 votes, or 22.8 percent.
Trailing the two forerunners were Tony Tidwell, Michael Abernathy and Tracy Lewis, respectively. Tidwell brought in 2,147 votes, or 14.8 percent; Abernathy had 1,937 votes, or 13.4 percent; and Lewis collected 1,682 votes, or 11.6 percent.
Taylor, speaking from his election after party at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, knew that a runoff would be necessary with a field of five candidates.
"Everybody is excited. We really expected to be in a runoff. We didn't know who the candidate would be, but everyone is excited and ready to go for three more weeks. We're going to start planning tomorrow how we are going to finish this campaign out," Taylor said. "Mike will be a worthy opponent. He has run a good, clean campaign so far, as all these candidates have. I want to congratulate all the candidates on running a good, clean race -- no mudslinging. And I just appreciate all these people being willing to serve our community and I think they are fine people.
"Tony, Tracy and Mike Abernathy ran great races and I consider myself very fortunate to have come out on top so far."
Bearden, celebrated Tuesday with volunteers and supporters at the Bartow County Republican Party Headquarters, looks to the county's future for solutions to looming challenges.
"I'm just humbled and thankful prayerfully that it came out like it did," Bearden said. "It's a very steep climb with the statistical difference and it will come back to turnout and it comes back to people's interests and what the county needs.
"What I'm convinced the county needs is a lot of positive change. It's time for Bartow County to move to a different level. We have a wonderful county, a very complex county. The future is nothing like the past, our opportunities are wonderful, but they are outside the scope of what people who have been here all their lives understand and we've got a lot of preparation to do to be ready for that."
A total of 14,105 votes were tallied by press time in the race for Bartow County's sole commissioner. At press time, approximately 463 absentee mail-in votes remained to be tallied.