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Early voters greeted by candidate supporters

Garland Watkins supporters greet early voters Monday morning at the old courthouse in Jonesboro.

Garland Watkins supporters greet early voters Monday morning at the old courthouse in Jonesboro.

The first early voters were greeted Monday morning at the old courthouse by the enthusiastic supporters of a write-in candidate for Clayton County sheriff.

Wearing T-shirts, holding signs and even showing off a tractor-trailer truck with the candidate’s name and face plastered on both sides, the supporters of Garland Watkins got across their message: Write-in a vote for Watkins. Drivers passing along McDonough Street honked in solidarity.

Watkins, Clayton sheriff’s chief deputy, hopes to garner enough votes to bounce Victor Hill out of the running for sheriff. Watkins, 50, qualified as a write-in candidate last month, after Hill defeated Sheriff Kem Kimbrough. Hill was first elected in 2004 as the county’s first black sheriff. He lost a re-election bid to Kimbrough in 2008.

Hill, 47, was indicted in January by a Clayton County grand jury for 37 felonies related to his term of office. He is the first sheriff-elect in Clayton to win office while under felony indictment. Watkins is hoping to unseat him Nov. 6.

“If people didn’t think in their hearts that there’s a problem in the sheriff’s office race, they wouldn’t consider a write-in candidate,” he said. “But they need to ask themselves which one of us positively reflects the values of the county? Is it me or is it Victor Hill?”

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Kathy Jefcoats

A tractor-trailer truck is outfitted in support of write-in candidate Garland Watkins.

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Kathy Jefcoats

His name in lights: This SUV is equipped with a double-sided marquee urging voters to “Write in Garland Watkins.”

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Kathy Jefcoats

A smiling Tasha Mosley, Clayton County’s solicitor general, takes her place in line to cast her early vote Monday morning at the old courthouse in Jonesboro.

Georgia law prohibits campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place and campaigners stayed well outside that boundary. However, because of the open nature of the courthouse landscape, it was nearly impossible to not see the Watkins name plastered on the side of vehicles or road signs. He just hopes it is effective.

“We want to make sure people know they have a choice, that they have the opportunity to make their vote count Nov. 6,” he said. “I think it went exceptionally well and I’m excited about it. We’re getting positive support all over the county. People want change and they want positive change.”

Clayton Solicitor General Tasha Mosley was one of the first voters in line at the old courthouse Monday.

“I always try to be here on the first day,” she said. “I’m going to get my sticker that says, ‘I voted,’ and I’m good.”

Mosley said she was impressed by the turnout.

“There’s usually only a handful of folks on the first day, this is a good turnout,” she said.

In line behind her was Linval Sterling of Jonesboro. He had a couple of reasons for voting early.

“I like to avoid the long lines on Election Day for one thing,” he said. “And I’m here to elect the person I think is best to lead. Voting has always been an important part of my adult life.”

Sterling said he is concerned about a person’s leadership abilities and the national economy.

“We need someone in there who is going to bring back the economy,” he said.

On the local level, Watkins said he is meeting voters who are proud of the step he’s taking for Clayton County.

“There are a lot of people thanking me for doing this,” he said. “For having the gumption to step up to the plate, to make positive changes for Clayton County. It’s uplifting. People are more in tune than we thought.”

Regardless of what happens Nov. 6, Hill will head to a courtroom Nov. 26. His trial is expected to last more than a week. Presiding Judge Albert Collier said attorneys will seat a 12-juror panel out of 36 qualified members.

Hill could spend years in prison if convicted on all 37 felonies. If convicted of even one felony as sheriff-elect, he will be ineligible to hold office. Kimbrough will serve until Dec. 31 and an interim sheriff is expected to be appointed to take office Jan. 1.

Comments

MD 2 years, 1 month ago

This is an uphill battle for Garland, but it can be done provided there is no election fraud taking place, like three people witnessed yesterday at the old courthouse involving a polling place worker telling elderly folks not to vote for Garland. Fortunately I understand that the poll is now being monitored by state investigators for corruption. I would love to see them caught in the act and jailed, which the state will do if they catch them.

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DE 2 years, 1 month ago

The problem I see is that even if you want to see Garland Watkins win and you write his name in, it MUST be spelled correctly or the vote will not count. If it's off even 1 letter, the vote won't be counted even though you wanted Garland to get your vote instead of Victor. And with the illiteracy rate of Clayton County voters, Garland has an uphill battle.

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MD 2 years, 1 month ago

That could be a problem. I'll bet allot of folks spell it Wadkins.

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

......Let us have hope that the Garland Watkins voters is not as stupid as the Victor Hill voters....Ha, Ha

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

.......I arrived in Clayton County in 1960, and I have never witnessed such Side Show Acts in this county. During the entire time that Victor Hill was the Sheriff; He was campaigning for his re-election, with his billboards, his "Sheriff Star", His so called "Tank". his one Helicopter "Air Force", his Road Blocks, and the TV Media Coverage. Victor Hill made himself Nationally Known, on his first day in office, with "The Snipers on the Roof" incident. To some in this county; There must be something in the water or air to account for this memory loss......or.....Maybe they fell to being victims of Brainwashing, by being overexposed to The Victor Hill Hype and being gullible into believing this poop.

....Riddle Me with this :

......If there was to be a fools parade in Clayton County; Who would be leading this Parade ?

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

...If Victor Hill becomes our Sheriff; It will leave no doubt that Clayton County is suffering from a dysfunctional undertow, with no future hopes for recovery.

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