Special election set to replace Clayton lawmaker

Voters in northern Clayton County, as well as southeast Fulton County, and southwest DeKalb County, will be asked to go to the polls in early February, for a special election to choose a replacement for State Rep. Gloria Tinubu (D-Atlanta), who recently resigned from office, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office announced this week.

Gov. Nathan Deal has set Feb. 7 as the special election date, to fill the remaining year of Tinubu’s unexpired term, in House District 60. It will be one of two special elections held on that day to fill vacant seats in the State House of Representatives. The other election will take place in parts of Gwinnett and Walton counties, to chose a new person to represent House District 107.

In Clayton County, Tinubu’s house district includes all of the Morrow 1, and Forest Park 2 voting precincts, and the southeast corner of the Forest Park 1 voting precinct, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s web site. She had only been in the State Legislature for one year.

“The election for State House District 60 will occur in portions of Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton Counties,” the Secretary of State’s Office announced, in a written statement. “The elections are non-partisan, special elections with no party primaries. However, each candidate’s party affiliation, if any, will be listed on the ballot.”

Tinubu, whose legislative seat made her a part of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation, turned in her resignation notice to Deal earlier this month, according to State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale), the local delegation’s chairperson.

Tinubu was a member of the House’s Interstate Cooperation and Intragovernmental Coordination committees, and its Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation until Dec. 6, according to her legislative profile on the General Assembly’s web site.

Abdul-Salaam said she did not know her colleague was planning to resign, even though Tinubu had not been visible at many Clayton County Legislative Delegation meetings and events over the fall. The delegation chairperson said she learned about the resignation through an e-mail sent to House Democrats two weeks ago by State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), the head of the Democrats in the House.

“It [the e-mail] just says ‘It is with deepest regret that I inform you Rep. Tinubu has resigned from office ... [and] has decided to relocate to South Carolina for personal reasons,’” Abdul-Salaam said.

Tinubu could not be reached for comment.

Abdul-Salaam said other members of the delegation will work to represent voters from Tinubu’s district until they elect a new representative. She said the now-former representative’s absence will have no overwhelming impact on the delegation’s work for the county.

“The number [of representatives in the Clayton County Legislative Delegation] doesn’t really change anything,” Abdul-Salaam said. “Her constituents may feel some impact right now, but that will be it ... My immediate concern is her constituents and making sure they are represented, but we’ll step up and try to meet their needs, because once we are elected, we represent all of Georgia.”

The head of the county’s legislative delegation added that the area where Tinubu’s absence will be felt most will be the lack of her wisdom in the delegation’s discussions. “She is very intelligent and sharp, so, we’ll miss her in that regard,” she said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has established Jan. 9, through Jan. 11, as the qualifying period for potential candidates to sign up to fill Tinubu’s now vacant seat. The qualifying will take place at the office of the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, at 802 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, in Atlanta. The qualifying fee to become a candidate for the seat is $400.

The sign-up times for each day of the qualifying period will be: Jan. 9, from 9 a.m., to 5 p.m.; Jan. 10, from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., and Jan. 11, from 8 a.m., to noon, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Voters have until Feb. 3, to request an absentee ballot to vote in the election, and the run-off election date has been set for March 6 — the same date as Georgia’s presidential preference primary, Kemp’s office said. Voter registration and absentee ballot request forms can be obtained online, at sos.ga.gov/elections/, or by contacting the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, in person at 121 South McDonough Street, in Jonesboro, or by phone, at (770) 477-3372.