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Posted: July 19, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Henderson, Hunte vie for Commissioners seat

The runoff for the Newton County Board of Commissioners District 4 seat is set for July 22, with five-term incumbent J.C. Henderson going up against challenger Sonya Hunte.

A runoff was scheduled after no candidate received a majority of votes in the initial May 20 election, sending the two candidates with the most votes to a final round. As there is no Republican opposition, Tuesday’s vote will decide who takes the seat.

In May, Henderson fell nine votes short and just below a majority, while Hunte received 397 votes (30.78 percent). The third candidate, Jacquelyn Smith, did not make the cut with 256 votes (19.84 percent).

Here’s a quick look at both candidates’ responses to the same questions regarding their political platform and the runoff.

J.C. Henderson, incumbent

Q: What have you been doing differently to prepare for the runoff?

A: I haven’t been doing anything different. I have a pretty good track record. I’ve been responsive to the people who have called me, I’ve gone out to meet them. We know we’re doing what the people have asked us to do.

Q: Are there any changes in what you want voters to know heading into the runoff?

A: Not really. We’ve been going to the churches and talking with people. Most of the people either know who they’ll vote for or they won’t.

Q: Is there a specific statement or message you want to resonate with voters?

A: It’s one I’ve been talking about for the past year, and the whole time I’ve been in office. It’s about parks. It’s good for the community, and with the 2050 plan they want parks and trails. If you put God first, everything will go right.

*Questions and responses were exchanged over the phone.

Sonya Hunte, challenger

Q: What have you been doing differently to prepare for the runoff?

- A: We have continued our citizen engagement by being fully present in the community. We have been knocking on doors, calling residents – essentially talking to folks on their porches, in living rooms, at churches, grocery stores and the community. We have been open to discussing community needs, vision and a change in leadership wherever residents were to the dialogue.

Q: Are there any changes in what you want voters to know heading into the runoff?

- A: My message remains the same – my commitment to represent the collective voice of District 4 residents. As a collaborative leader, I will represent key stakeholders, the people who call District 4 home. A vote for me is a vote for youth commission, economic growth, long-term sustainability, workforce development, improved infrastructure, public safety and an overall improved quality of life in Newton County.

Q: Is there a specific statement or message you want to resonate with voters?

- A: The message I want to resonate with voters is that I will commit to using my talents, education and experience to address the social and economic challenges faced in District 4. In Newton County, District 4 has the lowest education expectancy and lowest property values. I would like voters to ask themselves the following questions: (1) Do I want to vote for politics as usual?; (2) Has the state of my community improved over the past 18 years?; (3) Who would best represent me and my community? Together, let us positively impact Newton County today and today and for the future. With your placement of an X next to Sonya Hunte on the ballot, I will lead, listen and do what is right for the residents of Newton County.

*Questions and responses were exchanged through email.

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