Big field of candidates qualify for DeKalb sheriff special election

Current DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox will have to fend off a large field of competitors to keep her job.

Qualifying ended Wednesday for the March 24 special election that will fill the unexpired term of Maddox's predecessor, Jeffrey Mann, who retired in November amid a battle over his law enforcement certification. A total of nine candidates qualified, including Maddox, who was chief deputy at the time of Mann's departure and subsequently took over as sheriff.

The field is full of experienced law enforcement officers and officials. In addition to at least four candidates that have previously run for sheriff, it includes Ruth Stringer, the now-retired major who briefly served as interim sheriff when Mann was suspended following his 2017 arrest.

The full list of qualified candidates, as posted on the Georgia secretary of state’s website:

  • Geraldine Champion, a retired Atlanta police homicide detective who also ran for sheriff in 2016
  • Harold Dennis, a former DeKalb deputy who ran for sheriff as a Republican in 2016
  • Adam Gardner, a homicide investigator for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office
  • Ted Golden, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who also ran for sheriff in 2016
  • Antonio "Block" Johnson, a military veteran and former jailer and marshal in Fulton County
  • Kyle Keith Jones, a retired law enforcement officer and businessman who also ran for sheriff in 2016
  • Melody Maddox, current DeKalb County sheriff
  • Carl Mobley, a retired DeKalb County police officer
  • Ruth Stringer, a Marine Corps veteran who briefly served as interim sheriff in 2017

March’s special election is nonpartisan and will coincide with presidential preference primary. It will also be just the first of several elections this year involving the DeKalb sheriff’s position.

With such a large field, it’s unlikely that any candidate will get 50 percent of the votes cast. In that case, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters would take place on April 21.

The winner of that election would then take over as sheriff until the end of 2020, when Mann’s unexpired term ends.

The process of selecting DeKalb’s next full-term sheriff won’t begin until party primaries are held in May. Any necessary primary runoffs would be held in July, with November’s general election to follow.