Bill Yearta, a jeweler and former mayor of Sylvester, won a special election to replace former state Rep. Ed Rynders, who retired earlier this year. Campaign photo.

Former Sylvester mayor narrowly wins runoff for vacant Georgia House seat

A former mayor edged out his opponent in a close runoff special election Tuesday for a vacant southwest Georgia state House seat.

Bill Yearta, a jeweler and former mayor of Sylvester, received about 115 more votes than his opponent Jim Quinn, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office.

The two Republicans — both former mayors — faced off Tuesday to replace former state Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Albany, who resigned earlier this year. They were the top two vote-getters in a four-way special election last month.

Yearta received about 50.9% of the more than 6,700 votes cast on Tuesday, according to the unofficial results. 

Yearta, served as mayor of Sylvester for 17 years and resigned earlier this year for his House run, pulled ahead after a second-place finish in November to win Tuesday’s election.

Quinn, a journalist and former mayor of Leesburg, had secured the most votes in the four-way November race, receiving about 41.6% of the nearly 9,300 ballots cast. Yearta secured 34.3% of votes cast last month.

A runoff was required since neither candidate won more than 50% of the votes cast in the special election.

Rynders announced his retirement in September, citing health reasons and plans to move to St. Simons Island.

Yearta will represent voters in House District 152 in Lee, Sumter and Worth counties.

More Tuesday election results from the AJC

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.