DeKalb County voters will choose between the unelected incumbent sheriff Jeff Mann and former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones to lead the county’s sheriff’s department.
With nearly all precincts reporting late Tuesday, Mann captured less than half of the vote, followed by Jones and Atlanta Police Sgt. Melvin Mitchell.
What had become perhaps the most watched race in DeKalb will be settled July 22 between Mann and Jones.
DeKalb’s cloud of scandal over several other elected offices did not appear to drive residents to the polls. Less than 20 percent of the county’s 390,000 active voters cast a ballot, said DeKalb election director Maxine Daniels.
Jones was the most well-known candidate in the crowded sheriff field and also reported the most flush campaign account. His campaign disclosures filed with the DeKalb Elections Office showed he collected $96,620, including $25,000 he lent to his campaign.
Mann reported the second-largest collections, of $72,358. Mitchell reported campaign donations of $9,250.
“This was always a race between Jones and an incumbent who was not elected,” said Steve Anthony, the former head of the Democratic Party of Georgia who now teaches politics at Georgia State University. “The real race will be the runoff.”
Precincts in south DeKalb, Jones’ traditional stronghold, reported being busy when polls first opened. Precincts in central and north DeKalb appeared to be more steady throughout the day and voted heavily in favor of Mann.
“I always vote,” said Betty Glass, a retiree who does part-time office cleaning, after becoming the 72nd person to cast a ballot at Avondale Pattillo United Methodist Church just before 2 p.m.
Glass voted for Jones, saying she had liked him in past dealings when he was CEO. “He’s a caring person,” she said, “and he cares for the people in DeKalb.”