Former marketing exec wins runoff for Atlanta-based state Senate seat

Sonya Halpern will join the Georgia Senate after winning a runoff special election for an Atlanta-based seat.

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Sonya Halpern will join the Georgia Senate after winning a runoff special election for an Atlanta-based seat.

Marketing executive Sonya Halpern will be the next state senator to join the chamber in January.

Halpern defeated perennial candidate Linda Pritchett in a runoff special election on Tuesday to replace outgoing state Sen. Nikema Williams. Williams was elected to the U.S. Congress.

Halpern defeated Pritchett 81% to 19%, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office. Both are Democrats.

No Republicans filed to run earlier this year, so only Democrats could vie for the seat.

Halpern and Pritchett were the top two vote-getters in a four-way November special election that was triggered when Williams was selected as the Democratic nominee in the 5th Congressional District race following the death of U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

Halpern received more than 45% of the vote in November, with Pritchett placing second with about 25% of the 69,000 votes cast. Since neither received more than 50% of the vote, a runoff was required.

Halpern is a Mississippi native and former marketing and advertising executive who previously worked for Cox Enterprises, the parent company of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Pritchett, a paralegal, made headlines earlier this year when she was arrested after reportedly breaking into her own home and moving back in after being evicted. She said she was wrongfully evicted.

Pritchett also challenged Williams in the June primary, losing with a little more than 23% of the votes cast, before Williams became the Democratic nominee for Congress. Pritchett also lost to Williams in a 2017 special election when she received 49% of the votes cast to Williams’ 51%.

Senate District 39 spans from Buckhead in the north to past Hapeville in the south, snaking roughly 20 miles along I-85. While the average annual household income is about $44,000, according to U.S. census data, the gap between what the district’s poorest and richest residents make is vast, ranging from those earning as little as $8,000 a year to others living in $1 million homes.

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