Former Hampton Mayor Tommy Smith handily defeated incumbent Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis on Tuesday to become the GOP nominee for Henry County Commission chairman.
Smith now faces Democratic challenger Carlotta Harrell in the Nov. 6 general election. Smith built his campaign around Mathis' endorsement of the failed 10-county transportation referendum, which lost 70 percent to 30 percent in Henry in the July 31 primary. Mathis served on the Atlanta Regional Commission's executive roundtable that decided the final projects included in the referendum.
In addition to taking heat for the regional transportation tax plan, Mathis took criticism for the county's overspending and her perceived lack of leadership. Commissioners recently raised the property tax rate from 11.75 mills to 14.5 mills to balance the county's budget and close a $10 million gap.
In the GOP runoff for the District 3 commission race, Gary Barham, who is retired from the city of McDonough, beat businessman Bill Toney Jr. Barham will face former McDonough City Councilwoman Sandra Vincent, a Democrat who works for Fulton County government, in November.