By Joel Hall and Valerie Baldowski
All next week, voters in Clayton and Henry counties will have a chance to choose the Democratic and Republican candidates for several key offices, who will advance to the general election in November.
Advance voting for the primary election runoff will take place Monday through Friday, Aug. 2 to Aug. 6. In Clayton, all advance voting will take place from 8 a.m., to 7 p.m., at the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration, located at 121 South McDonough St., in Jonesboro.
In Henry, voters will have two locations: The Henry County Elections and Registration Office, located at 345 Phillips Drive in McDonough; and the Stockbridge Community Center, located at 130 Berry St., in Stockbridge. Both locations will be open from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Election Day for the primary runoff will take place Tuesday, Aug. 10, and voters will cast their ballots at their regular polling precincts, between 7 a.m., and 7 p.m.
According to Clayton County Elections and Registration Official Lucille Pettaway, voters who voted a Democratic ballot on July 20, must vote a Democratic ballot in the primary runoff. The same is true, of course, for those who voted in the Republican primary on July 20.
Pettaway said those who did not vote in the primary may vote in the primary runoff, as long as they were registered to vote by June 21. "Anybody that is registered to vote, can vote in the runoff," said Pettaway. "If they voted in the primary, they have to vote the same way ... because it is basically the same election. During the November election, people will be able to vote either way [Republican or Democrat]."
The results of the primary runoff generally will produce one Democratic candidate and one Republican candidate per elected office on a single, unified, November ballot.
In Clayton, Democratic voters in the primary runoff will have the chance to pick the top Democrat for Secretary of State, State House District 75, and Clayton County School Board District 9.
In State House District 75, Henry Shawn James, 37, a U.S. Army veteran and real estate property manager from Riverdale, faces Yasmin Neal, 25, a detective from Jonesboro. Neal ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2008. In 2009, James ran unsuccessfully as a Republican against current State Rep. Ron Dodson (D-Lake City).
In the School Board District 9 race, incumbent School Board Member Charlton Bivins, 45, will face James Searcy, 52, a real estate agent from Ellenwood. Bivins serves as a lieutenant with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and Searcy currently serves as chairman of the Housing Authority of Clayton County (HACC).
In an interesting turn of events, the Democratic candidates for Secretary of State are both current members of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation.
State Sen. Gail Bucker (D-Jonesboro), a communications marketer, will face off against State Rep. Georganna Sinkfield (D-Atlanta), a real estate agent. The winner of the runoff will receive the Democratic nod, and face Republican Incumbent Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the fall.
Henry County has no primary runoffs on the Democratic ticket.
Republicans voting in the runoff will be able to voice their opinions in several state races and only a few local ones.
On the local level, Republican voters in Clayton will only have the opportunity to chose a single Republican to take on U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), the incumbent in the 13th Congressional District. Mike Crane, 47, of Newnan, a general contractor and owner of Harvest Construction, will face Deborah Honeycutt, 62, a Fayette County resident and medical director of Clayton State University Health Services.
While Crane is new to politics, Honeycutt would face Scott for the third time, if successful in the runoff.
In Henry County's 17th Senate District, Republican Rick Jeffares is running against Republican Todd Hilton. The winner will face Jim Nichols, a Democrat, in November.
Jeffares, 46, of Locust Grove, is a business owner and project manager for a civil engineering firm in Atlanta and a former Henry County Commissioner. Hilton, 44, of Covington, is a technology director and educator.
Henry's State House District 110 runoff will pit Republican Andrew "Andy" Welch, III, against Republican Lee Spahos. The winner will face Democrat Rudy Cox in November.
Welch, 38, of McDonough, is an attorney, and former chairman of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. Spahos, 35, of McDonough, is an employee in the financial services sector.
Republicans in both Clayton and Henry will have the opportunity to vote for candidates for Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, and Public Service Commissioner.
Republican candidates for state-wide offices include: Nathan Deal and Karen Handel for Governor; Sam Olens and Preston Smith for Attorney General; Ralph Hudgens and Maria Sheffield for Insurance Commissioner; and John Douglas and Tim Echols for Public Service Commissioner.
For more information, call the Henry County Elections and Registrations Office at (770) 288-6448, or the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration at (770) 477-3372.