For four DeKalb candidates – Latisha Dear-Jackson and Tunde Akinyele, and Gregory Adams and Lorraine Cochran-Johnson – campaigning continues to the July 24 runoffs.
Their two races are among seven that ended in runoffs on May 22. Four statewide races – Democratic primary for state School Superintendent; and Republican primary races for governor, lieutenant governor, and Secretary of State; and and the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District, also ended in runoffs.
The four local candidates were the top vote-getters in the May 22 nonpartisan and democratic primary to succeed DeKalb Superior Court Judge Daniel Coursey, and for the DeKalb Super District 7 Commission seat.
Open Superior Court seat
In the six-person nonpartisan race for the Superior Court seat, Dear-Jackson got 37.59 percent of the votes, and Akinyele 22.43 percent.
Dear-Jackson, an 11-year municipal court judge and civil litigator, is from Los Angeles, California. She came to Georgia in 1994 to attend Spelman College, and has been a resident of DeKalb County since 2001.
Dear-Jackson said she is happy to make the runoff and to get the most primary votes “despite being outspent two to one” by Akinyele.
“I am humbled, honored and blown away,” she said May 23. “I have never run for office before so this is very heartwarming. I look forward to the runoff.”
Dear-Jackson believes her 11 years of judicial experience secured her a wide base of support that she hopes to expand for the runoff.
“I will continue to talk to voters wherever they are,” she said. “The court is critical and people deserve every opportunity to meet those who would serve as judge.”
Now that the field has been thinned to two, Akinyele, chief judge of the Lithonia Municipal Court and a former 13-year DeKalb prosecutor, is also confident that he can boost his numbers before July 24.
“We had a lot of support in the election,” he said May 23. “It was a hard-fought, well-run campaign, and we expect to run an even stronger campaign for the runoff.”
Akinyele, who was born in Nigeria and came to the U.S. 35 years ago at age 16 to attend college and never left, said he did a very effective job of getting the word out during the May 22 election.
“So we just have to focus now on making sure that people understand my qualifications, experience, and what I would bring to the bench,” he said.
DeKalb Commission Super District 7
In the four-man race to unseat him, 44.74 percent of the 40,680 people who voted in the Super District 7 primary picked Adams.
Cochran-Johnson received 41.69 percent of the vote.
Adams, who won office in a December 2016 special election, said he is thrilled to have received the most votes of any candidate.
"As we head into the runoff, DeKalb voters should know that my record is clear," he said. "When it comes for fighting for DeKalb, no one will work and fight harder."
Cochran-Johnson, a Lithonia resident and media executive, said she is confident she can unseat Adams, who last year was found to have violated the county government’s sexual harassment policy and who is now being sued by his former district director Ashlee Wright, who produced text messages and phone calls from him inviting himself to her hotel room and asking for photos of herself in a bikini.
Cochran-Johnson said DeKalb residents want to see the county move forward progressively and without controversy.
“Ethical and professional values and behaviors are a must and I am running against a candidate who only 10 months into his term was already involved in sexual harassment controversy that originated in his office,” she said May 24.
Cochran-Johnson says she is happy with the support she received so far from voters and thinks Adams has “failed to demonstrate a record of success in public service and promoting living standards in the district and the county.”
“People everywhere are concerned when they see blight throughout our county, potholes in our roads, a decline in property values, and a rise in crime in our community,” she said. “They want to see change. I have found the community to be both concerned and receptive to my ideas and the change that is necessary to move DeKalb forward.”
There is no Republican candidate in November so the winner will take the seat.
Ortha E. Thornton Jr. and Sid Chapman made the Democratic runoff for state School Superintendent. On May 22, Thornton got 43.86 percent of the vote in the three-man race, and Chapman, 36.48 percent.
The winner will face incumbent Richard Woods, who won his two-man Republican primary with 60.13 percent of the votes.
In the five-man Republican gubernatorial primary, Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp were the top vote-getters and will meet again in the runoff. Cagle got 39 percent of the votes and Kemp 25.56 percent.
The winner will take on Democratic primary winner Stacey Abrams in the Nov. 6 general election.
David Shaffer and Geoff Duncan are vying for the the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Shaffer emerged from the primary with 48.92 percent of the votes and Duncan, 26.64 percent. The winner will face Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.
Brad Raffensperger and David Belle Isle are in a runoff for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. Raffensperger got 34.97 percent of the votes on election day, Isle 28.53 percent. The winner will take on Democrat John Barrow in November.
One congressional race remains open
In the 6th Congressional District, Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel who got the highest votes on election day and will vie for the Democratic nomination in the runoff. In the four-person primary race, McBath got 36.26 percent of the vote and Abel, 30.54 percent.