By Ed Brock
Clayton County voters will have to go back to the polls in three weeks to chose between attorneys Pamela Ferguson and Clay Davis to decide who will be the new probate judge.
With all 51 precincts reporting, Ferguson had a strong lead with 3,826 of the total 10,944 votes cast, but still did not achieve the 50 percent needed to win the judgeship outright. With 3,013 votes, Davis beat out Fred Zimmerman who had 2,772 votes to win a spot in the runoff.
The fourth candidate, Bobby Simmons, earned 1,333 votes.
Ferguson said she wanted to thank the voters for coming out and she would try to maintain her lead.
"I'm just planning on continuing what I've been doing, getting out to the people and talking about what's important to them," Ferguson said.
Davis said he would revamp his campaign in the time leading up to the run-off on Oct. 7.
"We'll continue doing what we've been doing and try to pull in the votes," Davis said.
Outside the county's computer operations center where the votes were being totaled, retired long-time Probate Judge Eugene Lawson said Tuesday that he was just an observer of the process he once oversaw.
"I invested 20 years in the court and I'm very interested in who will be my successor," Lawson said.
As a lifelong resident of Clayton County, Ferguson said previously that she has been an attorney in Jonesboro for 14 years and has not moved her office during those 14 years. She has handled probate cases and dealt with "emotionally charged issues" on a daily basis in her practice in family law. Ferguson attended Clayton State College and transferred to the University of Georgia, where she graduated with a BA degree in 1986. Later she earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia in 1989 and was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in June of 1989.
Davis said he had 22 years of practicing law including seven years as municipal court judge in Forest Park. He attended the National Judicial College on judicial leadership, special court jurisdiction and advanced evidence. Davis is also former state representative and U.S. Marine and represented the Sixth District at the Georgia Municipal Court Council.
Davis said he after graduating law school, he has amassed hundreds of hours of continuing legal and judicial education.