Fulton sheriff, tax commissioner, county commission races draw primary rivalries

Commissioner Natalie Hall speaks  during a meeting at the Fulton County government building in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Commissioner Natalie Hall speaks during a meeting at the Fulton County government building in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

In an echo of the five-way 2020 primary, after which Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat won a runoff against then-incumbent Ted Jackson, Labat now faces a four-way primary in seeking to keep the job.

Qualifying for the May 21 partisan primary ended at noon Friday. All three of Labat’s listed Democratic opponents are retired from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office: Kirt Beasley, James “J.T.” Brown and Joyce Farmer. No Republican contenders were listed on the Georgia Secretary of State’s candidate qualifying page shortly after the deadline.

Beasley said she has more than 25 years of experience at the sheriff’s office, working her way up to assistant chief jailer.

Brown said in his 30-year career he served in all three divisions of the sheriff’s office: jail, courts and law enforcement — the only candidate who had done so, he said. Brown officially retired in 2023 and has run his own private security firm for 17 years.

Farmer said she served as a jail deputy for 15 years, was promoted to sergeant in 2003, then after another 15 years transferred to training other officers. She retired in 2018, and now works as a reserve lieutenant for East Point’s police department, she said.

Longtime Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand has one Democratic rival, Duvwon Robinson. Robinson’s campaign Facebook page indicates he ran for Superior Court Clerk in 2016. He ran for Atlanta City Council in 2017 but was disqualified before the election, according to Ballotpedia.

All three Fulton County Commission seats up for election will be contested.

District 2 incumbent Bob Ellis doesn’t have an opponent in the Republican primary, but two Democrats will compete to face him in the November general election.

They are Megan Rue Harris, described as a financial services professional; and Jennifer Phillippi, CEO of insurance technology company Consolidated Risk Solutions.

In District 4, incumbent Natalie Hall’s recent legal embarrassment drew two Democratic primary opponents.

Moraima “Mo” Ivory is a law professor at Georgia State University, director of GSU’s Entertainment, Sports and Media Law Initiative. Sonya Ofchus’ campaign website describes her as owner of L’Amour Chic in Fayetteville and cofounder of translation firm Host Nation Perspectives SWA. She also has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience as a former Atlanta police officer, federal probation officer, U.S. Department of Education fraud investigator and postal inspector, according to her website.

In September, other Fulton County commissioners censured Hall following a federal hearing on her affair with a former chief of staff. Early this year a federal judge ruled the county was liable in the sexual harassment case, and the county paid more than $900,000 in penalties and costs. In February, commissioners cut Hall’s office budget by $200,000 to partially offset the cost of the judgment.

In District 6, incumbent Khadijah Abdur-Rahman will face Ali Carter. His qualifying form describes his current occupation as “unknown,” but Carter served as chief of staff to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens when Dickens was a city councilman. Carter gained unwanted publicity at the start of 2022 following his arrest at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on a warrant for terroristic threatening.