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Waites wins District 60 State House seat

Atlanta resident, Keisha Sean Waites, was still in states of joy and disbelief Wednesday as she moved forward from her victory in this week’s special election, to fill the vacant State House of Representatives District 60 seat.

The 39-year-old emergency management consultant captured 54.2 percent of the 592 votes cast in Tuesday’s election. Her opponents in the election, Theresa F. Middlebrooks, and Latrenka R. Riley, garnered 18.6 percent, and 27.2 percent of the vote, respectively.

Waites will replace former State Rep. Gloria Tinubu, who abruptly resigned in December, and moved to South Carolina.

“I’m ecstatic today,” said Waites, by telephone, on Wednesday. “It doesn’t feel real, yet.”

The representative-elect said she still must wait for state officials to certify the results, a process that typically takes a few days with any election, before she can take her seat in the State House of Representatives. Because her seat sits where three counties meet, she will be a member of the legislative delegations for Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties.

Although Waites received more than 50 percent of the vote in each county, Clayton County turned out her largest margin of victory. The Georgia Secretary of State’s web site shows that she captured 58.43 percent of the 166 votes cast in Clayton County, followed by Riley with 29.51 percent of the votes cast, and Middlebrooks, who received 12.04 percent of the votes cast.

Waites, who previously ran unsuccessfully for the Fulton County Commission District 6 seat in 2010, also earned 56.25 percent of the 32 votes cast in DeKalb County, and 52.28 percent of the 394 votes cast in Fulton County, according to the Secretary of State’s web site.

She will be able to take office immediately, once the state certifies the special election results. But she will be jumping into a General Assembly that will already be nearly halfway through its 2012 legislative session.

The soon-to-be state legislator already has an aggressive list of issues she hopes to get others to help her get passed as local legislation, including measures dealing with transportation, education, health care and criminal justice.

“I plan to work with members of each political party to enact local legislation for public transportation programs in Clayton, develop effective programs to prevent young people from entering the criminal justice system, [and] introduce legislation which would require public schools to offer high-quality vocational [and] technical programs in high schools,” she said, in a Jan. 20 e-mail outlining her legislative goals.

She added that she would also like to work on getting “specific legislation which would help shift the burden of educating students to parents and guardians — who are key to resolving discipline problems in our public schools — and work to develop a funding mechanism for Grady Hospital, which is really a state hospital.”