By Curt Yeomans
Incumbent Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson defeated Republican challenger, Lee Scott, in a landslide to win a second term on the county's board of commissioners.
With all but the early and absentee ballots counted in the District 4 Commission race, Edmondson garnered 8,662 votes, or 84.77 percent, of the 10,218 votes cast. Scott, who ran against Edmondson and lost four years ago in the Democratic primary, won 1,538 votes, or 15.05 percent of the ballots cast.
"I'm excited by the results," Edmondson said. "When I ran against my opponent four years ago, it was as an unknown, and I was able to win at the time. This time, I have been able to run on my record, and I am both proud and humbled by the turnout."
As results poured in throughout Tuesday night, Edmondson continually held a commanding lead over Scott that stayed between 85 and 87 percent of the votes cast.
Edmondson also defeated Scott's wife, Jewell, in the July 20 Democratic primary for the seat. Jewell Scott was the county's district attorney from 2004 to 2008, but lost her re-election bid for that seat two years ago. Lee Scott has run for seats on the county commission multiple times in recent years, but has lost each time.
Edmondson said the controversial husband-and-wife team should take his victory over both of them as a sign. "I think it sends a message to the Scotts that the sun has set on their political aspirations," Edmondson said.
Lee Scott could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Now that Edmondson has won a second term on the commission, it ensures that the commission's membership will remain intact for another two years. He said he plans to focus on the county's economic development, improving the county's parks and recreation offerings, and looking at economical transportation solutions for the county.
Voters want public transportation
As Edmondson easily won re-election, voters across the county also overwhelmingly made their voices heard on one of the more controversial issues taken up by the commission in the last two years -- mass transportation in the county.
In a non-binding referendum, with all but the early and absentee ballots counted, 69.69 percent of the 40,951 Clayton County voters who cast ballots on the issue of the county joining MARTA said "Yes." The issue came up after the Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted last year to shut down the county's previous mass transit system, C-Tran, on March 31, citing that it was not making enough money to sustain itself.
Since then, some private companies have come about to take over some of the routes C-Tran ran for regular and paratransit riders.
State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale) called the results of the non-binding referendum "awesome." She led an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to get the county commission to make the vote into a binding referendum.
"This says that we need transit in the county," she said. "We need viable transportation. Not to take away from these private services that have popped up to meet that need, but we need something that is sustainable."
She said that while the referendum did not receive much publicity, she and other transit advocates in the county "never stopped working on this issue," and she was, therefore, not surprised at the results of the election.
Edmondson said he believed people may have been confused about what they were voting on, however, and thought they were voting on a regional transportation referendum advocated by Gov. Sonny Perdue. "I've heard from a lot of my constituents that there was some confusion about what they were voting on," he said.
Edmondson said the county's sales tax could go up to 9 percent, if the county joined MARTA, and then approved Perdue's transportation referendum, which may not come up before voters until 2012. "I, for one, am not in support of raising the county's sales tax to 9 percent," he said.
Clayton County Board of commissioners Vice Chairman Wole Ralph, an outspoken critic of C-Tran's costs, could not be reached for comment.