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Today is decision day for Clayton voters

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

After several drawn-out, public feuds involving elected officials, and nearly a year of school board woes, Clayton County citizens will have one more day to say something about it all.

Today, from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m., at 58 precincts around the county, registered voters will have a chance to determine who will lead the county for the next four years, and who will speak for Clayton at the next Georgia General Assembly.

With early voting ending last Friday, residents will have to cast their votes at the specific polling locations at which they are registered.

On the Democratic ballot, voters will have the following choices: Vernon Jones or Jim Martin for U.S. Senate; Gail Buckner or Gail Davenport (i) for State Senate District 44; Tracy Graham-Lawson or Jewel Scott (i) for District Attorney; Victor Hill (i) or Kem Kimbrough for Sheriff; Eldrin Bell (i) or Lee Scott for County Commission Chairman; Wole Ralph (i) or Angela Redding for County Commissioner, District 3.

For positions on the Clayton County School Board, Democrats will select from: Lindsey McDaniel or Wanda Smith for District 2; Charles Davis or Jessie Goree for District 3; Ophelia Burroughs or Jennifer Talley for District 5, and John Askew or Mary Baker for District 6.

In the non-partisan special election to fill the unexpired term of Ericka Davis, who resigned in April, Republicans and Democrats will have the chance to vote for either Michael King or Milton Mack, Jr., for Board of Education's District 4 seat.

While the possibility of a low-voter turnout looms over today's run-off elections, last week's early voting totals were slightly higher than early voting totals for the primary. Last week, approximately 6,538 people voted, either in advance or through absentee ballots for the runoff, compared to roughly 5,864 people who voted early in the July 15 primary.

However, Annie Bright, director of the Clayton County Board of Elections, does not believe higher early voting totals necessarily translate into higher voting numbers on election day. Only 21 percent of the electorate participated in the primary, she said.

"If you look at the advance voting for the primary and the advance voting for the runoff, it shows you that voters can be unpredictable," said Bright. "We had 21 percent [voter participation] for the general primary and we're talking about the local officials who take care of the daily business of the county.

"It's hard to predict what people are going to do," she said.

The following poll locations will be open today:

· Ellenwood (one location) -- East Clayton Elementary;

· Forest Park (six locations) -- Forest Park Middle School Cafeteria, Huie Elementary, Fountain Elementary, Babb Middle School, Philadelphia Presbyterian Church, Haynie Elementary;

· Jonesboro (18 locations) -- Pointe South Middle School Gym, Callaway Elementary, Lee Street Elementary, Kilpatrick elementary, First Presbyterian Church, M.D. Roberts Middle School, Mt. Zion High School, Mt. Zion Elementary, Clayton County Senior Citizens Center, St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, Arnold Elementary, Clayton County Fire Station Headquarters, Brown Elementary, Suder Elementary, Lee Headquarters Library, Kendrick Middle School, Pointe South Elementary, Jackson Elementary;

· Lake City (one location) -- National Archives Southeast Region;

·Lovejoy (five locations) -- Mundy's Mill Middle School, Lovejoy Senior High School, Lovejoy Middle School, Kemp Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary;

· Morrow (nine locations) -- Anderson Elementary, Morrow City Hall, Morrow Middle School, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Adamson Middle School, The Rock Baptist Church, McGarrah Elementary, Roberta Smith Elementary, Clayton County Performing Arts Center;

· North Clayton (four locations) -- North Clayton Middle School, North Clayton Senior High School Gym, West Clayton Elementary, Christian Fellowship Baptist Church;

· Panhandle (two locations) -- River's Edge Elementary, New Hope Methodist Church;

· Riverdale (12 locations) -- Oliver Elementary, Lake Ridge Elementary, Church Street Elementary, Riverdale Elementary School Library, Riverdale Middle School, Tara Elementary, Flint River Center, Riverdale Christian Church Gym, Riverdale High School, Riverdale United Methodist Church, Fountain of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, New Macedonia Baptist Church.

People who don't know their polling location can find out by going to www.co.clayton.ga.us, and clicking on the "poll locator," or by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State web site at www.sos.state.ga.us.

You may also call the Clayton Board of Elections and Registration office at (770) 477-4520, or (770) 477-4527.

To see the results in person, people may visit the Election Center (formerly the Clayton County Emergency Management Center) at 7946 N. McDonough Street, Jonesboro.