The race for chair of the Gwinnett County commission has one runaway leader and two candidates separated by a small margin in the race for second place in the Democratic primary.
Nicole Love Hendrickson has more than 49% of the vote, but she didn’t crack the 50% barrier needed to avoid an August runoff. Her challenger in the runoff is likely to be Lee Thompson Jr., after the county elections board certified the race Friday afternoon.
Curt Thompson is 20 votes behind. He said he is considering whether to challenge the results, a decision that will have to be made early next week.
A candidate can challenge the results if they are less than one-half of one percent from making the runoff.
“You at least want to ask some questions,” Thompson said. “I hope no one would begrudge me a little bit of time to think about it.”
The winner of that runoff will face Republican David Post.
The vote certification comes after more than a week of counting. While more than 75,000 people voted in person on Election Day, the county received more than 85,000 absentee ballots. Additionally, some precincts did not receive voting equipment by the time the polls opened, and voters were required to fill out paper emergency ballots that had to be tallied.
As the vote totals were being updated online, Rep. Donna McLeod, D-Lawrenceville, said she noticed some votes disappeared in a number of races. They were added back in Thursday evening.
In a statement, Gwinnett County spokesperson Heather Sawyer said the emergency ballots that were filled out in some locations were originally scanned on a central scanner used for absentee and provisional ballots. But Wednesday, they were rescanned in their appropriate precincts. As they were uploaded again, the original precinct totals had to be taken down. Discrepancies showed when votes that had been taken down to add the emergency ballot totals weren’t uploaded. The statement said all ballots are now accounted for.
Sawyer said she didn’t know how many votes were affected. She said elections director Kristi Royston “will not be able to provide additional information until next week.”
McLeod said the explanation wasn’t satisfactory.
“I’m not buying it. It’s pure excuses,” she said. “It was clear on Election Day they were not in control.”
McLeod said the Gwinnett delegation planned to meet with Royston to ensure things went smoothly in November.
In addition to the runoff for the Democratic candidate for chairman, there are a number of other races that will go to runoffs. In the sheriff's race, Democrats Curtis Clemons and Keybo Taylor will face off to determine who will face Republican Lou Solis. Democrats Tiffany Porter and Regina M. Carden will face each other in a runoff for tax commissioner; the winner will face incumbent Richard Steele.
In the District 3 county commission seat, Republicans Ben Archer and Matt Dereimer will face off, while Democrats Derrick J. Wilson and Jasper Watkins III are the likely candidates. John Henry Moye Jr. is within half a percentage point of second place and also eligible to request a recount.
Embattled Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader will face a runoff to keep her seat. She’ll be on the ballot with Deborah R. Fluker.
In other races, the candidates are set. For the District 1 commission seat, Republican Laurie McClain will face Democrat Kirkland Carden in November.
Karen Watkins, a Democrat, edged out Segun Adeyina to face Republican incumbent Carol C. Boyce in the District 1 Board of Education race. Republican incumbent Mary Kay Murphy will face Democrat Tanisha Banks for the board's District 3 seat. And with no Republicans running, Democrat Tarece Johnson beat longtime board member Louise Radloff for the District 5 seat.
In the District Attorney’s race, Democrat Patsy Austin-Gaston will face Republican incumbent Danny Porter.