Here’s a look at some of the issues facing the counties as the voters make their decisions Tuesday.
Clayton is focused on its rebound from the dark days of the 2008 recession.
The county, which was hit hard by the highest unemployment in the metro area and was ground zero in the region's foreclosure crisis, has seen home prices march upward and unemployment fall to 5.2 percent (it was as high as 10 percent as recently as February 2014). The county's school system, which has regained much of the accreditation it lost in 2008, has new leadership and many say is flourishing.
But there are still challenges. Clayton faces the possibility of losing as much as $18 million annually from a fuel tax levied at Hartsfield that is split between the county and the school system. Some Clayton County Commissioners have criticized the lack of an economic development director at the Clayton Development Authority as keeping the county from enjoying the economic boom happening across the rest of metro Atlanta.
Several candidates at a recent NAACP forum placed economic development and vocational training for students as top priorities. The county, they said, needs to do more to improve the county’s infrastructure, invest more in public safety and simply pick up the litter.
"We have to clean it up," said DeMont Davis, who is running in crowded race for Clayton County Commissioner District 4 against incumbent Michael Edmondson, Derwin Davis and Timothy Kenney. "You can have the nicest restaurant you want, but if you bring out dinner on a trashcan lid, you're not going to want it."
Fayette, one of metro Atlanta’s wealthiest counties, is at a turning point, many of its leaders say.
Long known as the bedroom of Delta Air Lines pilots, the county is in a battle between those who say Fayette needs to change — they want new industries that will attract millennials to keep Fayette from becoming a retirement haven — and those who resist — they say Fayette is fine as it is.
The county’s school system, often considered one of the state’s best, has seen enrollment fall in the past few years, a result of slow population growth, though there was an uptick in 2017-18.
Former Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix, who is running against Edward “Edge” Gibbons and Eric F. Imker for the District 3 seat on the Fayette Commission, said he wants the county to take economic development seriously.
“More retail and homes are not economic development,” he said. “Jobs are economic development.”
Voters in Henry County will hear a lot about infrastructure from candidates as they crisscross one of metro Atlanta’s fastest-growing counties.
Henry has become a dominant player in metro Atlanta's e-commerce distribution business and that growth has led to thousands of jobs in the county and millions in tax revenue. But it also has contributed to crumbling roads because of massive numbers of trucks transporting goods and wages that many say are marginal at best.
Leaders and residents also say the county needs to invest more in economic development that brings a range of jobs to the community, including more tech, business and medical positions that pay higher salaries.
And like Clayton and Fayette, candidates also say Henry County needs to provide better options for students who are not college bound through vocational or other training.
Sophe Cook Pope, a Henry native who is running for District 4 Board of Education against incumbent Donna McBride and Bridgette Freeman, said imbedding a sense of accomplishments in students, no matter what their pursuits after high school, is imperative to helping a community to thrive.
“I received what I see as a world class education in Henry,” she said.
Voters in Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties will go to the polls May 22. The contested races include:
District 1 – (Democrat) — Sonna Singleton Gregory (i), Regina Deloach
District 4 — (Democrat) — Michael Edmondson (i), Demont Davis, Derwin Davis, Timothy Kenney
Board of Education
District 1 – (Democrat) — Pam Adamson (i), Jasmine Bowles
District 4 – (Democrat) — Sidney Richardson, Victoria Williams
District 8 – (Democrat) — Alieka Anderson (i), Brenda Harrison, Joy Tellis Cooper
District 3 – (Republican) — Edward “Edge” Gibbons, Dan Haddix, Eric Imker
Board of Education
District 2 – (Republican) — Roy Rabold, Traci Fuller
District 4 – (Democrat) — Glenn Collins, Irvine Bryer, Vivian Thomas, Tony Brown
Board of Education
District 4 — Donna McBride (i), Sophe Cook Pope, Bridgette Freeman
State Court Judge 2 — Chaundra Lewis, Christopher Chapman, David Brown, Ted Norman Echols, Vincent “Vinny” Lotti