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A guide to Metro Atlanta’s 2018 local races

Voters across Georgia will cast their votes on Election Day Tuesday. The governor’s race, state and Congressional contests have garnered much of the attention, but many voters in metro Atlanta will elect county commissioners and school board members as well as vote on local ballot questions.

Earlier Sunday alcohol sales, park funding and property tax relief are up for a vote in some jurisdictions. Also, the controversial Eagle’s Landing cityhood referendum is being watched across the metro area as it could set a new course for communities who may want to break away from existing towns.

Here’s a breakdown of key races and ballot issues in your area:

CLAYTON COUNTY

No contested commission races.

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School Board

Clayton County Schools has four school board seats up for election, but only one has competition.

In District 9, which represents schools in central Clayton County around Morrow, Democrat incumbent Benjamin A. Straker Sr. is facing a challenge from Republican Kimberly E. Cowan-Keane.

Unopposed are Democrats Jasmine Bowles in District 1; Victoria Williams in District 4; and Alieka Anderson in District 8.

COBB COUNTY

Cobb voters in District 3 will elect a representative to the Board of Commissioners. Republican incumbent JoAnn Birrell faces Democrat Caroline Holko and write-in independent Joseph Pond.

County Commission District 1 voters will also vote on Keli Gambrill, who is running unopposed after winning the Republican primary.

Cobb residents, including those of the cities, will also have a chance to vote on a referendum that would allow alcohol sales starting at 11 a.m.

School board

Cobb County’s demographics continue to change from suburban and Republican to a county that is more diverse where Democrats can mount legitimate challenges. Voters put a lone Democrat, David Morgan, on the school board in 2008. This year, when Republican Susan Thayer decided not to run, no one from her party stepped up to take her place, and her seat will go to Democrat Jaha Howard in District 2. Two other Democrats will challenge Republican incumbents this year.

There are two competitive seats.

Post 4, which is mid-north Cobb County has Democrat challenger Cynthia Parr challenging incumbent Republican David Chastain.

In Post 6, which is East Cobb County, Republican incumbent Scott Sweeney is facing a challenge from Democrat Charisse Davis.

DEKALB COUNTY

Three county commissioners and two Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor candidates are on the ballot, but the only opposition is from write-in candidates.

Voters in unincorporated DeKalb and 10 of its cities – Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Stone Mountain and Tucker – will also decide whether to allow alcohol sales to begin at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Brookhaven residents are being asked to authorize the City Council to borrow $40 million to upgrade the city’s parks. The money will be paid back using property tax revenue, and a millage increase is expected.

School board

No races on the ballot.

FULTON COUNTY

County commission races on the ballot are uncontested, but Fulton voters will have a number of ballot measures to decide on, depending on where they live.

A measure that would cap taxable property values in Atlanta will go to a statewide vote.

There are several property tax relief measures specific to cities in North Fulton, including in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park and Roswell. They would allow residents to choose the lowest-value year of 2016, 2017 or 2018 as their base year for 2019 property values. After an adjustment for inflation, affected homeowners would be taxed on value increases of no more than 3 percent each year.

Residents in Alpharetta, Atlanta, College Park, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs, South Fulton and Union City will decide whether to allow earlier Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants beginning at 11 a.m.

Voters countywide will consider a measure that would undo a state constitutional amendment that keeps the county’s last unincorporated area — around Fulton Industrial Boulevard — from joining a city.

School board

No races on the ballot.

GWINNETT COUNTY

Two Gwinnett County commission seats are up for grabs – and both races have the potential to make history.

In Commission District 2 – which covers a diverse swath of Lilburn, Norcross and Peachtree Corners — Democrat Ben Ku is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Lynette Howard. Ku would become Gwinnett’s first Asian-American commissioner, as well as its first openly gay one.

In Commission District 4 – which primarily covers the Lawrenceville and Buford areas – Democrat Marlene Fosque is challenging another two-term incumbent in Republican John Heard. Fosque would become Gwinnett’s first black commissioner.

Should either challenger win, they would become the commission’s first Democrats on the five-member board in more than three decades.

Gwinnett residents will also vote on the so-called brunch bill, which would allow alcoholic drink sales starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

School board

Gwinnett County, one of the most diverse counties in Georgia, has not elected a school board member of color in anyone’s memory. This election could change that. Two seats, both open after Republican incumbents decided to not run again, are up for election.

In District 2, which comprises north-central Gwinnett, Republican Steve Knudsen is running against Democrat Wandy Taylor.

In south Gwinnett County’s District 4, Democrat candidate Everton Blair is running against Republican candidate Chuck Studebaker.

HENRY COUNTY

The big contest on the ballot is the cityhood referendum vote for Eagle’s Landing.

The well-heeled community wants to secede from Stockbridge. To do so, Eagle’s Landing advocates will ask voters to approve a plan to take half of Stockbridge – including half of its businesses – by de-annexing a portion of the town and creating a new city of Eagle’s Landing Opponents have been unable to stop the vote in the courts and say it could cripple Stockbridge financially.

The six-member Henry Board of Commission, which currently is split evenly between black and white leaders, will be majority minority in the new year. That’s because District 4 Commissioner Blake Prince, who is white, left the post to run unsuccessfully for the state house. Vying for his seat are Democrat Vivian Thomas and Republican Pete Peterson, both of whom are black.

Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Gary Barnum, who is white, is also trying to retain his seat in a race against Democrat V. Ranae Crutches, who is black.

School board

No races on the ballot.

Staff Writers Tyler Estep, Arielle Kass, Meris Lutz, Tia Mitchell, Christopher Quinn, Brad Schrade and Leon Stafford contributed to this report.

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