By Joel Hall
Starting today, Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell will "hit the ground running" to face challenger Lee Scott in the Aug. 5 run-off election.
Bell and Scott prevailed in Tuesday night's primary, with Bell picking up 40.95 percent of the vote and Scott taking 23.22 percent.
With less than a one percent margin, Scott was able to defeat veteran BOC District 2 Commissioner Virginia Gray in her bid for chair of the BOC. With only 22.74 percent of the vote, Gray will exit the board at the end of her term.
Former District Attorney's Office Chief of Staff Earl Randall was only able to pick up 7.66 percent of the vote, while former Riverdale Mayor Phaedra Graham only had 5.43 percent.
Bell said that he is "grateful" he picked up 40 percent of the vote in a five-way race, but did not plan to sit on his laurels.
"When you look at what is happening to the incumbents on the school board, and the nation, to get the 40 percent is certainly proof positive that the people think that we can do the job," said Bell. "Nobody in the room has demonstrated any leadership that says that they should be able to unseat me."
However, "we're going to hit the ground running bright and early," Bell said.
Scott could not be reached for comment.
Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Wole Ralph was also able to win a substantial amount of the vote in his district. With 47 percent of the vote, Ralph will face challenger Angela Redding in the Aug. 5 runoff. Redding is a management analyst for the City of Forest Park.
Ralph said he is "thankful for the tremendous outpouring of the people of District 3. "The results clearly show that people are excited about the things we have accomplished in the district in the four years that I have been there, and they want me back in there," said Ralph. "I think that tonight's vote speaks for itself ... I am looking to build off of that support."
Redding came away from the primary with 23.26 percent of the vote. Developer Michael Bryant trailed with 21.11 percent and Delta employee Ronald Ringer took 8.64 percent.
Redding could not be reached for comment.
In the race for District 2 Commissioner to fill Gray's vacated seat, Gail Hambrick won in a landslide with 60 percent of the vote. Lawrence Ethridge, former major with the sheriff's department, came closest to Hambrick with 20 percent, while Danny Hayes -- former third vice president of the Clayton County Branch NAACP -- and C. Wesley Meadows, attorney, took away 13.99 percent and 6.49 percent, respectively.
Hambrick was "thrilled" with her victory and said she plans to build consensus on the board.
"I am glad that [voters] were able to sift through all the paper and all the signs to vote for somebody who really wants to represent them," said Hambrick. "I didn't just spring up out of nowhere. All my life, I have been working for the people of not only North Clayton, but the entire county.
"I definitely want to work together," with the other commissioners, said Hambrick. "We need to start thinking more about the county and what's good for the county. I want to find out what the true concerns are of our citizens and that's where I am going to start."
A run-off election will take place for the BOC chairmanship and BOC District 3 seat on Tuesday, Aug. 5.