Election season arrives in Clayton County

Early voting begins Monday

JONESBORO — Clayton County voters will begin going to the polls Monday to cast their ballots and help decide who will represent them in elected offices and whether the county should continue a special sales tax for government projects.

While many voters may be used to Georgia holding its primary elections in July, the date has been moved up to May 20 this year. That date is now less than a month away, which means early voting begins next week at the Clayton County Elections and Registration office in the Historic Courthouse, 121 South McDonough St. in Jonesboro.

Headlining the ballots will be key statewide races for government offices including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state superintendent of schools and an open U.S. Senate seat.

The ballots will also include several high-profile local races and issues.

One of the issues on the ballot is whether the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that funds county and municipal government projects should be continued. The tax is expected to collect $272 million over the next six years to pay for a long list of projects, including financial assistance for Southern Regional Medical Center, sidewalk projects, public safety equipment purchases and park and facilities renovations.

And then there are the elected offices.

Clayton County District 1 Commissioner Sonna Singleton faces challenges in the Democratic primary from Rosa Barbee, Joyce Baul and former Commissioner Richard Reagan. The winner of the primary will face independent candidate Walter Nix in the November general election.

District 4 Commissioner Michael Edmondson faces challenges from former Commissioner Robbie Moore and Larry Bussey on the Democratic party ballot. There is no Republican or independent opposition so the winner of the primary virtually wins the seat outright.

Three of the four school board seats up for re-election have incumbents trying to fend off challengers on the Democratic ballot. Board Chairwoman Pam Adamson is challenged by Angel McSwain. District 4 board member Michael King is facing Kithya Kim and District 8 representative Alieka Anderson is being challenged by Jeffery Benoit.

Only District 9 board member Charlton Bivins is running unopposed.

Many seats on the Clayton County Legislative Delegation feature incumbents running without opposition, but there are a few races where sitting legislators face primary election challengers.

State House District 74 Rep. Valencia Stovall is being challenged by her predecessor, Roberta Abdul-Salaam, and former Rep. Yasmin Neal, who represented neighboring District 75 from 2011-2012. Longtime District 34 Sen. Valencia Seay is challenged by Sherry Mallory while District 44 Sen. Gail Davenport is facing Marcus Davis.

Although there are two candidates for the state House District 78 seat, one is a Democrat and one is a Republican so they will not face each other until the general election.

There is a challenge for the newest seat in Clayton County’s State Court. Judge Michael Garrett, who was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal when the seat was created in 2012, has been challenged by Magistrate Court Judge Betrice Scott in a non-partisan election.

And finally, Congressman David Scott has been challenged by Michael C. Owens for the Democratic nomination to be the 13th U.S. Congressional District representative. There is no Republican or independent candidate for the seat so the primary winner is virtually guaranteed to win the seat in November.

Clayton News Daily reporters conducted candidate surveys this week where local candidates were asked to answer three issues-oriented questions. This edition is dedicated to presenting the responses that were received. Responses from candidates who will not appear on ballots until November will be published in the fall.