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Incumbent commissioners turn back challengers

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

By the end of election night, Clayton County voters had demonstrated strong faith in the current leadership on the board of commissioners by giving its chairman and District 3 representative four more years in office.

BOC Chairman Eldrin Bell and District 3 Commissioner Wole Ralph -- both incumbents -- handily won their separate bids for re-election.

With 59 of 60 precincts reporting, Bell won with 59 percent of the vote, compared to 41 percent for his challenger, Lee Scott.

Ralph took away roughly 58 percent of the vote, compared to 42 for his challenger, Angela Redding.

Bell said he is "excited" about his victory and thanked the community for "giving me four more years. I feel excited for the people of Clayton County," he said.

"In my view, it is an overwhelming win for the people of Clayton County. The community is tired of the kind of politics that were going on."

Bell criticized Scott for running a "very negative campaign," in which "he failed to report where the money was coming from to fund the campaign."

"There was absolutely nothing to back up his claims, from his proposed Ph.D., down to his last place of employment," said Bell. "It was nothing but a public relations campaign to get him elected without any facts to stand on.

"I'm delighted that Clayton County was smarter than that," Bell continued. "They saw right through it, and they sent him a message that they want to be Scott-free."

Scott, who lost to Bell by an 18-point margin, was reached by phone, but said he had no comment. "It is what it is," said Scott.

Ralph, who won by a 16-point margin, said his opponent, Redding, ran a campaign "full of style and grace." However, Ralph said he felt "confident that I represented the Third District in such a way that they would come back to support me," he said.

"Every time the citizens of the county trust you with their support, it's humbling and it's an honor," said Ralph. "I am glad that the elections are behind me, because,sometimes, it creates a distraction from governing. [Now] we can continue the work that we started."

Ralph said that Redding, who serves in vital positions with the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Forest Park, was a formidable opponent.

"I think running against tough opponents makes you stronger, so I have learned a lot from her," he said.

Redding could not be reached for comment.