Early voting for the Aug. 21 runoff election has begun in Newton County, and the fate of the District 113 state representative seat will be finally decided in the election.
Democrats Pam Dickerson and Sharon Sawyer were the top two finishers in the primary election, grabbing 42.07 and 32.47 percent respectively, and, as no Republican qualified for the seat, the winner of the runoff will be the next representative.
Former state representative Toney Collins, who took third place in this year's primary for District 113, has decided to throw his support Sawyer in an effort to put her over the top. However, Dickerson believes she remains the only qualified candidate and the best choice for the seat.
Sawyer has been running a campaign emphasizing the fact she lives in Newton County, which now encompasses the majority of District 113 after redistricting shrunk the district and moved it out of Gwinnett County completely and mostly out of Rockdale County.
That's partially why Collins, a Rockdale resident, now believes Sawyer is the best choice; Sawyer also reached out to Collins after the election to solicit his support.
"I know she has a good reputation in Newton County, and I had heard about her for a long time before the race," Collins said. "They called me up, and I got a lot of info about what she wants to do to help the community. She's for support seniors, which is my top priority. She cares for healthcare, victims of domestic violence and helping kids that need help."
Collins said Sawyer is involved in the community and will be very accessible to the public. At the same time, Sawyer promotes the fact that she works at Lithonia Lighting in Conyers, so she knows that community and the drive that residents of both counties experience.
"I have to push hard to make sure people know there is a runoff. A lot of people thought I lost (by finishing second), so we're communicating to people that they have to go back to the polls," Sawyer said.
For her part, Dickerson says she has been involved in both counties as a representative for the past two years, and she stands on her record to date.
"Two years ago the people elected me to represent them and my record shows that I have faithfully and effectively served their needs as their representative. I have worked hard to create livable-wage jobs; attract more businesses to our state; improve educational opportunities for our children; increase quality, affordability and accessibility of our healthcare network while making our streets, neighborhoods, businesses and communities safer," Dickerson said in an email.
"The work that I have done at the State Capitol echoes the values and goals of the people of District 113 and improves the lives of all the citizens of Georgia. Their vote on election day making me the top vote-getter affirmed that I possess the experience, leadership skills and qualifications and that make me the only qualified candidate to serve as their state representative and my campaign is focused on getting that message out to the public and assist in getting voters to turnout on Election Day."