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Incumbents lose in Riverdale, Forest Park, Lovejoy runoffs

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Incumbent politicians took a beating in runoff elections in three Southern Crescent cities on Tuesday.

Voters in Riverdale, Forest Park, and Lovejoy elected new leaders to represent them as mayor and city council members.

Starting Jan. 1, Evelyn Wynn-Dixon will replace Phaedra Graham as mayor of Riverdale. Wynn-Dixon defeated the incumbent by a margin of 2-1, earning 363 votes, while Graham received 176.

Incumbent Riverdale Ward 2 Councilwoman Michelle Bruce lost to newcomer Wayne Hall. In a four-way election on Nov. 6, Bruce led Hall by more than 100 votes, but on Tuesday, Hall was victorious with 308 votes to 223 for Bruce.

In Forest Park, Maudie McCord ousted incumbent Ward 3 Councilman David Halcome.

In Lovejoy, Tommy Green will take the Post 1 council seat, pending a Dec. 13 Superior Court hearing, which may nullify the results of the Nov. 6 election, and the runoff that saw him outpoll Bob Lynch 93 votes to 76.

The new mayor-elect of Riverdale, Wynn-Dixon, once was homeless, but now has a doctorate degree in public health administration. She said God has answered her prayers.

"It is my time to give back what God has given to me," she said. "I give my vow to the citizens to be accessible, accountable and dependable."

Wynn-Dixon said her first action in office would be to create "100 days of healing" in order to ease tensions between the city government and its citizens.

Her first act of healing could be with defeated council member Bruce.

On Monday, Bruce -- a transgender politician who identifies as a woman -- successfully defended herself in Clayton County Superior Court against allegations that she lied to the public about her gender.

On Tuesday, Bruce blamed that lawsuit, as well as a "racist" web site created shortly before the election for soiling her campaign. She promised to be a thorn in the side of those she believes deposed her from her council seat.

"I never did hide the fact that I was transgender," Bruce said. "In 2003, it wasn't an issue ... In 2008, you will see a side of Michelle that you have never seen before."

Bruce promised to file "numerous lawsuits," and said she would encourage more members of the "[Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] community" to move to Clayton County and run for office. "My activism side will be coming out," she said.

In Forest Park, McCord, a retired worker for the J.C. Penney Company, beat incumbent Halcome with 84 votes to his 67. She said her win is "the first step towards doing what we need to do for our ward.

"The biggest issue for me is communication between the community as a whole ... to make sure we work on the same page," said McCord.

She said the city needs more recreational activities and jobs to keep crime low, and her experience as an executive post member of the Clayton County Democratic Party would allow her to better meet the needs of citizens.

In Lovejoy, in southern Clayton County, Green emerged victorious against Bob Lynch. The two tied in the Nov. 6 election, but Green garnered 93 votes Tuesday, while Lynch came away with 76.

The results of the runoff, as well as the Nov. 6 election in Lovejoy, are still in question, however, because of a Dec. 13 Superior Court hearing which may challenge the results. Green said he is not concerned.

"At this point, I'm savoring this victory," he said. "That's not in my hands, its in the hands of the judge. At this point, I'm just glad to be on the winning side."

Graham, Hall, and Lynch could not be reached for comment.