Races could remake local government

Metro Atlanta voters will elect a slew of county commissioners and other local officials on Tuesday. Here’s a look at some of the key local races.

Clayton County

Clayton County voters are tired of the antics of some public officials. That was evident two years ago when they booted out the county commission chairman and one of the other two commissioners running for re-election.

Now, the other two commissioners are asking voters for another four years on the board. Whether they get it could depend on how good of a job the Clayton County Commission has done repairing its image.

The ballot for District 1 looks like the same one from four years ago. Incumbent Sonna Singleton is challenged, again, by Rosalilia “Rosa” Barbee, Joyce Baul and Richard Reagan. Another sitting commissioner, Michael Edmondson of District 4, is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Larry Bussey and Robbie Moore.

Whoever wins the Democratic primary in either district will take the seat, as there is no Republican running.

Cobb County

Two Cobb County commission seats are up for grabs at a critical time in the county’s history — just as work begins on the Atlanta Braves’ new stadium and the county faces huge decisions about public transit and traffic congestion around the stadium site.

Helen Goreham announced late last year that she would not seek re-election for her District 1 seat. There are five candidates vying for the seat, including two with political experience — former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne and Bob Weatherford, an Acworth city councilman for 12 years.

Other candidates in that race are Marietta Fire Marshall Scott Tucker and small business owners Angela Barner (real estate) and Glenn Melson (insurance).

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell is defending her District 3 seat against two challenger: Michael Opitz, a mediator who ran an unsuccessful Congressional campaign in 2012, and plumber Joseph Pond.

DeKalb County

DeKalb County voters will elect a new sheriff for the first time in 14 years, though a July run-off is expected in the eight-candidate field.

Jeff Mann, the former chief deputy, was appointed sheriff in March after Thomas Brown stepped down to make a Congressional run.

Also vying for the nonpartisan seat are retired DeKalb deputy Dale Bernard Collins; retired Drug Enforcement Agency agent Ted Golden; DeKalb Police Sgt R. Tony Hughes; former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones; former Georgia Piedmont Technical College Assistant Police Chief Melody Maddox; Atlanta Police Sgt. Melvin Mitchell; and retired Atlanta Police officer LaSalle Smith.

In the Democratic primary, incumbent County Commissioner Stan Watson faces Gregory Adams for the District 7 seat that represents half of the county. With no Republicans in the race, the primary winner will capture the seat for the next four-year term. The other two incumbent commissioners, Larry Johnson and Jeff Rader, are running unopposed.

Fulton County

This is Fulton County’s most important election in a generation. Because of retirement and redistricting, the seven-member Board of Commissioners will have at least three new members. North Fulton voters, who have long felt neglected by county government, will gain a greater say in Fulton affairs.

On the Democratic ballot, key races include those for the chairman’s job – where incumbent Chairman John Eaves faces a stiff challenge from longtime Commissioner Robb Pitts – and south Fulton District 6, where incumbent Commissioners and longtime allies Emma Darnell and Bill Edwards have been forced to run against each other because of redistricting.

Two races could be headed for a July runoff: north Fulton District 3, where four Republicans are seeking to replace retiring Commissioner Tom Lowe, and southwest Atlanta District 5, where five Democrats are battling to represent Darnell’s old district.

Gwinnett County

Only one Gwinnett County commissioner has drawn a primary challenger this spring.

In District 4, which covers a central swath of the county from Buford to Lawrenceville, incumbent commissioner John Heard faces former Gwinnett economic analysis director Alfie Meek in the Republican primary. The winner will make key decisions about how the county spends tax dollars, approaches economic development and shapes land development.

There are no Democratic candidates in the District 4 primary.

Staff writers Rhonda Cook, Dan Klepal, April Hunt, David Wickert and Molly Boom contributed to this report.