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Abdul-Salaam picks up House seat

By Justin Boron

Roberta Abdul-Salaam slid by her opponent Emory Wilkerson in the state House District 74 race, picking up critical votes in her Republican opposition's turf that led to her victory.

Abdul-Salaam drew more than 3,300 votes in Fayette County. The strong showing all but ruled out a Wilkerson victory as Clayton County demonstrated its overwhelming Democratic support.

The Democratic candidate took more than 80 percent of the vote in her home county.

"I think it's a great day for the citizens of District 74," she said at her victory party.

While Wilkerson received 62 percent of the vote in Fayette County, he criticized District 74 voters for supporting party labels instead of making their decision on the issues.

"My opponent ran a hollow campaign on just her party label," he said. "She played the party card."

Wilkerson lost two years ago in the District 34 Senate race against state Senator Valencia Seay.

District 74, which includes Clayton and Fayette County, has favored Democrats in the past. Sheriff-elect Victor Hill took the seat in 2002.

But as Wilkerson pushed through the district with droves of campaign supporters, who waved signs and wore Wilkerson t-shirts, the race became anything but a passive stroll into victory for either candidate.

Both trucked toward Election Day casting lines of campaigners into the community to reel in voters to their side.

While neither candidate had elected office experience coming into the race, it was a popular theme in interviews and political forums.

Both candidates had measured each others background in community activism when they appeared side-by-side at a political forum in Morrow.

Each propped up their past work with legislators as a sufficient substitute to elected-office experience.

Abdul-Salaam highlighted her work to repeal legislation that sends juveniles to adult prisons.

Likewise, Wilkerson championed the cause as an issue he would address if elected.

Abdul-Salaam said she would take a greatly needed break during the next few days before she prepared to take over her seat in the state House.

Abdul-Salaam had campaigned since early this summer for a primary election when she defeated three opponents.