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Dramatic upsets define runoffs
by Bill Baldowski
bbaldowski@mdjcentral.net
August 22, 2012 03:44 PM | 2049 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Not only did Clayton County voters make it clear yesterday that they wanted change in Clayton County government leadership, they did so in a convincing and compelling fashion.

Three of four incumbents failed in their reelection attempt in the runoff with only District 44 state Sen. Gail Davenport, D-Jonesboro, surviving, but only by a slim margin.

In that race, Davenport edged former state senator and representative Gail Buckner, taking 6,868 votes or 50.8 percent, to Buckner’s 6,633 votes, or 48.1 percent, a difference of 235 votes.

The largest margin of victory in the runoffs came in the race for chairman of the Clayton County Commission as former Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner easily defeated two-time incumbent Eldrin Bell, taking 67.4 percent of the vote, or 16,157 votes, to Bell’s 7,837 votes or 32.6 percent.

Another large margin of victory came in the Clayton commission’s District 3 race as challenger Shana Rooks, a lawyer, captured 4,594 votes or 64.6 percent, to defeat incumbent Wole Ralph, who finished with 2,513 votes or 35.3 percent.

Perhaps the most watched race was that for Clayton County sheriff where former sheriff Victor Hill captured 12,927 votes, or 53.6 percent, to down incumbent Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, who garnered 11,155 votes, or 46.3 percent.

In a prepared statement, Hill, who could not be reached for further comment, said he was “humbled to God and the support of Clayton County voters and accept their will that I serve once again as sheriff of Clayton County.”

“I want to thank the many volunteers, advisors and friends who worked tirelessly over the last few months to make tonight’s victory a reality,” Hill added.

He emphasized that, as he promised in his campaign, Hill wanted to “advise those who prey on others by breaking into homes, robbing businesses and drug trafficking to stop or leave Clayton County while you still can,” he said.

“Your presence is not wanted here and your lawlessness will not be tolerated,” Hill emphasized.

Although Turner felt he could win a runoff with Bell in the chairman’s race, “I did not imagine I would win by such a wide margin and am grateful for it.”

“I view my winning this runoff, and winning by a wide margin, as a mandate from Clayton County residents that they want change and stand behind me as one who can bring change,” Turner said, praising his support team and all those that worked on his behalf.

Calling his run for the chairman’s post a grassroots campaign, Turner said it serves to prove that although one’s opponent may have a large amount of money contributed to his campaign, “it is the faith that citizens have in their candidate of choice that counts.”

Rooks said she was proud of District 3 constituents for “understanding the issues and returning to the polls to vote in the runoff.”

She said that, after the general primary, she expected to win the runoff and saw as her main objective, getting voters back to the ballot box.

“District Three constituents were concerned that their property taxes had gone up and public transportation had been terminated by the commission,” she said.

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