In an off-year election, there are still some big issues

[private]Odd-numbered election years are typically dominated by municipal elections where local voters choose their mayor and city council members, but there still are some major issues on the ballot for Tuesday.

In DeKalb County, voters will decide whether to form two new cities that would have a combined population of nearly 100,000.

The unincorporated areas that could become cities include Tucker, a long-established community of about 33,000 that people for years have assumed was already incorporated, even though it isn’t.

The other potential municipality is LaVista Hills, home to about 67,000 people under a newly coined name that sounds more like a perpetual care cemetery than a city. Just two years ago, the push was on to create a city of Lakeside for this area, but that name was later discarded.

The impetus for the new cities has largely been the dysfunction and ongoing criminal investigations into the DeKalb County government, which has seen two of its elected officials convicted over the past year: former CEO Burrell Ellis and former commissioner Elaine Boyer.

If voters approve, the new cities would join two other DeKalb municipalities that have come into existence in recent years: Dunwoody and Brookhaven.

While Brookhaven is a Republican-leaning city, an unusual combination of circumstances could result in voters there electing Democrats to two major offices.

In an August special election, Democrat Taylor Bennett, a lawyer and former Georgia Tech quarterback, won an upset victory over Republican J. Max Davis for a legislative seat that was vacated by Mike Jacobs, now a State Court judge.

Davis resigned as mayor of Brookhaven to run unsuccessfully for the Legislature, turning over that job to City Council member Rebecca Chase Williams. Williams planned to run for a full term as mayor, but dropped out of the race when her husband fractured his thigh and had to have hip replacement surgery.

The favorite in Tuesday’s election for mayor is now John Ernst, a Democratic attorney running against Dale Boone, who’s most widely known as a “world champion competitive eater” capable of ingesting such things as 36 Krispy Kreme doughnuts in six minutes.

Ernst has been endorsed by establishment Republicans like County Commissioner Nancy Jester in his campaign for mayor.

There will be three special elections held Tuesday to fill legislative seats that became vacant when the incumbents resigned.

Nine people are running in state Senate District 43 to replace Ron Ramsey, who stepped down from the General Assembly when he was appointed a judge.

The candidates include former state Rep. Tonya Anderson, Diane Adoma, Marcus Jordan, William “Bill” Kennedy, Sharon Griffin Sawyer, Rodney Upton, Janice Frey Van Ness, Sherri L. Washington, and Stan Williams.

Anderson resigned her House seat to run for the Senate, with two people qualifying for the special election that was called to replace her: Doreen Carter, 52, a comptroller from Lithonia, and Sherri L. Washington, 46, a Conyers attorney,

The third special election will be held in Columbia County to replace Ben Harbin in the House of Representatives; he resigned to take a job at a public affairs firm.

That race has seen some angry exchanges and ethics complaints between two of the candidates, developer Joe Mullins and former county commissioner Mack Taylor. The other candidates in the race are Jodi Lott and Pat Goodwin.

In a related development, a fast-track election has been called to replace Ross Tolleson, who resigned effective Nov. 1 for medical reasons from the Senate District 20 seat in Middle Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order Sunday calling a special election for Dec. 1 in District 20 and Secretary of State Brian Kemp started the qualifying period for that election on Monday.

Republicans Larry Walker III, Michael Reece, Vivian Childs, Jon Martin, and Brooks Keisler have said they will run for the Senate seat.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Brookhaven mayor's race , cityhood referendums , legislative special elections