By Valerie Baldowski and Curt Yeomans
In statewide races, voters are casting ballots in today's run-off elections for seats on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and Court of Appeals of Georgia.
No local run-off races are on the ballot in Clayton County, but voters in neighboring Henry County must select a new District II County Commissioner.
Election officials are predicting a turnout of 5 percent, or less, among registered voters in Henry and Clayton.
In the statewide runoffs, incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias is being challenged by an attorney, Tammy Lynn Adkins. Also, Antoinette "Toni" Davis and Chris McFadden, both attorneys, are vying for a seat on the Court of Appeals of Georgia.
In Henry, Fred Auletta and Herman Talmadge, III, are asking voters to grant them the right to represent the people of District II, on the county commission.
The polls at all of Henry County's 38 precincts will be open from 7 a.m., until 7 p.m., said Janet Shellnutt, Henry County Elections and Registration director.
"Falling [near] the week of Thanksgiving is not the best time in the world," said Shellnutt. "At this point, if [we get] more than 5 percent, I'll be real surprised." Early voting, in Henry, began Nov. 18, and as of Monday, Nov. 29, 801 early votes had been received, she said.
In Clayton, Annie Bright, director of the county's Board of Elections and Registration, said voters are not coming out in droves for the runoff, the way they did for the general election, in which 42.31 percent voted.
Bright said that during the early voting period for the run-off races in
Clayton, only about 370 voters -- out of 147,400 registered voters in the county -- cast ballots. That is a turnout of only 0.25 percent.
"We got approximately 210 ballots back in the mail, and about 160 [ballots cast] in person," she said. "I expect a low turnout. We had a low early-voting turnout, so we'll probably have a low turnout [today] as well."
All 58 of Clayton's voting precincts will be open today, from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m., according to Bright. For a list of precincts, go online to: www.claytoncountyga.gov/departments/elections-and-registration.aspx/, or call (770) 477-3372, or go by the Clayton County elections office, which is located in the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, at 121 South McDonough St., in Jonesboro.
While campaigning in the statewide races has been low-key, the District II commission race has generated interest in Henry. Auletta 64, a Locust Grove resident, was among six candidates who ran for Chairman of the Henry County Board of Commissioners in 2008, when Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis won.
Now, Auletta said he is eager to capture a seat on the board of commissioners, to serve constituents in his district. "A district commissioner race allows me to focus on the citizens, and talk to them individually, and hear their concerns," he said. "The most important function of a commissioner is to represent the people of the district. Winning an election is still about being accessible to the voters, so they get to know your values, your beliefs, and [they] understand you are running for a better Henry County, not personal gain. This is what I look forward to the most, working for the citizens of District II."
Auletta is vice president of acquisitions and special projects for Bennett International Group in McDonough. He said his background will equip him to be an effective county leader. "I listen, and I respond," he said. "I am an ethical, detailed-oriented person, who asks questions and studies the issues to ensure I make the best, most cost-effective decisions.
"My business skills, extensive strategic planning, financial management and budgeting experience, involvement in jobs creation, and team-building for over 40 years provide the skills that are needed to help govern Henry County," he said.
Talmadge, 44, is the great-grandson of Eugene Talmadge, and grandson of Herman Talmadge, Sr., both of whom served as governors of Georgia.
"Both my great-grandfather, and my grandfather, were dedicated public servants, and served our state as governor, as well as in various other capacities," he said. "They both ran on platforms of balanced budgets and smaller, more efficient government. Like with most family members, I don't agree with them on everything, but I am proud of their service and their dedication."
A Hampton businessman, who specializes in real estate and assets management, Talmadge said his business experience and family ties will be an asset. "I've balanced budgets, made payroll, and made the kind of tough decisions our county commission will be faced with over the next few years," he said. "In addition, my family has called Henry County home for decades. I know and understand the values and needs of Henry County citizens.
"During this economic downturn, we need a leader who will keep county government small and efficient. We need a leader who will fight for lower taxes, limit the size of government, find real transportation solutions and grow our economy. We need a leader who will put the citizens of the second district before their personal ambitions."