By Joel Hall
In the July 15 primary, Democratic challengers Angela Redding, Michael Bryant, and Ronald Ringer were able to take 53 percent of the vote against Wole Ralph, incumbent in the Clayton Board of Commissioners District 3 post.
With Bryant and Ringer out of the race, Ralph and Redding will compete in the Aug. 5 runoff for the support of District 3 voters once aligned with Bryant and Ringer.
Taking away 47 percent of the popular vote in the primary, Ralph believes he can achieve "those remaining four points on Tuesday" to put him over the top.
"Getting 47 percent was a pretty significant accomplishment," said Ralph. "It shows a high amount of support in the community. We won every single precinct the first time and we are assured that we will this time."
Historically in Georgia politics, in a race in which the incumbent takes away less than 50 percent of the vote, the second finisher in the primary will often go on to win the runoff with those who voted against the incumbent uniting around the remaining challenger.
Ralph believes that "assumption is popular lore," however, and believes he has the ability to attract voters who may have once supported Bryant and Ringer.
Redding, who has spent several years working as management analyst for the City of Forest Park, as well as serving with the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce as board chair of Leadership Clayton, believes she did well in her first run for public office. Since the primary, Redding has been meeting with people in District 3 to secure the trust of potential supporters.
"This being my first time running for elected office, I believe that I have done pretty well," said Redding. "We [Bryant, Ringer, and Redding] had 53 percent [of the vote] between the three of us, but now it is down to two. That's why if they call and ask me to come to their neighborhood, I go, because that means a lot to me. I don't take any vote for granted."
Redding took away 23 percent of the vote in the primary, just slightly higher than Bryant's 21 percent. Since then, she has arranged meetings with individuals and their neighbors, increased her advertising, and had campaign staff members knock on doors and make calls in order to rally more support, she said.
Married to a major in the Sheriff's Department, Redding said she has also had to dispel rumors that her husband, Ricky Redding, is tied to Victor Hill's administration and that the relationship will generate conflicts of interest if she is elected.
"I am open and honest about that," said Redding. "My husband was hired with the Clayton County Sheriff's Department in 2000, so he was there before this administration. Basically, there is nothing I can do about that, because he chose his career, and I chose my career."
Redding noted that at least one commissioner on the board has a spouse working for the county and that she would "abstain from" any votes having to deal with salaries or funding issues related to the Sheriff's Department.
"We've been going back out into the community, just like we did in the primary, and letting them know how important this election is," said Redding.
Ralph, however, is not taking his lead in the primary for granted. Despite having won every precinct by a significant margin and wining twice as many votes as any of the other candidates, Ralph has tripled the size of his door-knocking team, in an effort to gain favor in areas where other candidates once had support.
"We've been contacting people who may have forgot to vote or may have not voted, and reminding them to get out there," said Ralph. "We've worked really hard over the last four years to affect the issues that people in the Third District care about. I think that we will be well-poised," to win, he said.