It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to voters that several of the most prominent races in Fayette County will be heading to a runoff. Also, since Democrats have declared themselves in more races this year than has been seen in the last 20 years, other races will actually be resolved in the general election.
For many years in Fayette County, if voters didn’t cast a ballot in the primary, they could pretty much sit it out for that election cycle, since the county’s races have usually been resolved at that point. A heavily Republican county, Fayette is just now facing what could become an onslaught of Democrats deciding to make the run.
Additionally, the mandated district voting is another factor at the polls. As a result of the NAACP lawsuit and the new district map being handed down, it’s the first time in Fayette’s history that district voting has been the law of the land, beefing up the Democratic as well as the black presence on the ballots.
With final figures in at approximately 11 p.m., the District 4 Fayette County Board of Education race will come down to a July runoff between candidates Diane Basham (948 votes) and John Kimbell (882 votes) as no one took the 50 percent plus one of the electorate. Basham is a former Fayette County teacher and Kimbell works in the Real Estate Title and Escrow industry. Jane Owens and Mindy Frederickson came in at 360 and 254, respectively. Whoever wins the run-off will face Democrat Ogechi Oparah - one of the youngest candidates the county has seen in any race in recent years- for the slot.
The District 5 race wasn’t going to be settled in the primary - a change for 2014- and Democratic incumbent Leonard Presberg will be facing off against Dean Dunton for the seat in the general election. Neither had competition for the primary.
Fayette County Board of Commissioners chairman Steve Brown held off two challengers to keep his District 3 seat. Brown faced off with two other former Peachtree City mayors, Don Haddix and Harold Logsdon. With 1,319 votes and 52.63 percent of the vote, Brown beat Logsdon (998) and Haddix (189).
The District 5 commission seat, currently held by Allen McCarty will have to wait until the general election, as Republican McCarty and Democrat challenger Pota Coston didn’t have any competition from within their own parties.
McCarty has held the seat for one term. If she wins, Coston will be coming off a loss for a Tyrone Town Council seat in last year’s election. With stronger Democratic support, Coston could have a strong chance for the win, since she only lost her council race by six votes in 2013.
One of the busiest races in Fayette was for the 16th District Senate seat that is being opened with 10-year veteran Ronnie Chance’s retirement. Fayette County attorney David Studdard; attorney William Johnston; Tea Party activist Marty Harbin; conservative James Clifton; Fayetteville builder D.R. “Bob” Barnard; Peachtree City-based project manager; Erick A. Manning; and Tyrone resident and pilot Gil B. Williams ran a very competitive race, around the district. The race covers multiple counties, but Fayette County’s numbers show Harbin and Studdard may be facing a runoff if the other counties run true. Harbin garnered 2,757 votes, Studdard, 2,177. Barnard (891), Clifton (764), Manning (1,380) and Williams (188) split the remainder of the Fayette vote. There is no Democratic competition for this seat so it will be wrapped up by the runoff.
Again with Fayette County numbers, challenger Sherry Mallory (500) doesn’t look to have taken the lead away from 12-year incumbent 34th district state senator Valencia Seay who took a commanding lead in Fayette County and held onto it(1,658). There was not GOP challenger for the seat.
Incumbent Third District U.S. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, a Fayette County native, racked up 6,507 votes to challenger Chip Flanegan’s 3,626 votes in the county, so unless there’s a dramatic influx from other areas of the district, it looks like Westmoreland is keeping his seat.
Former Fayette County board of education member Mary Kay Bacallao took 46 percent of the Fayette vote in her Republican push for the state school superintendent’s seat.
Fayetteville businessman Keith Heard garnered 28.5 percent of the Fayette vote, while his challenger, Elizabeth Johnson took nearly 72 percent of the Fayette portion of the vote for the state’s Commissioner of Insurance.
Of the 70,373 registered voters in the county, 1,732 (not quite three percent) cast ballots.