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E-SPLOST passes; Board of Commissioners race goes to runoff
Mason, Simmons will meet in District 2 showdown; county Dems join state for Abrams
Georgia Voter

COVINGTON, Ga. - Newton County voters continued a school tax and narrowed the field for a seat on the county commission this week.

Funding for a new Eastside High School and other projects passed by a wide margin as renewing the Education Special Local Option Sales Tax won approval by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1.

The E-SPLOST — a sales tax of a penny on the dollar — passed with 7,475 votes (62 percent) for to 4,572 votes (38 percent) against.

After the new Eastside is built, the existing school building will be retrofit for younger students, then become the home of Newton County Theme School.

The tax also will fund improvements to school security across the Newton County School System, renovations to Sharp Stadium and capital purchases.

Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey of the Newton County School System said she’s grateful for the support of a community “that supports the education of our children.”

“I am thankful for the support of our parents, employees, local business and industry partners, local governmental agencies, faith-based community, public education supporters and Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce,” Fuhrey said.

“Our partners, through their SPLOST vote support, have enabled us to continue our Board of Education-approved technology plan, build a new Eastside High School, relocate our K-8 school, purchase new buses, maintain our facilities, replace furniture, buy new band equipment, pay existing debt and upgrade Sharp Field.

“I cannot adequately express how thankful and grateful I am. Ultimately, our students are the winners!”

Voters didn’t settle the issue of picking a new member of the Board of Commissioners. The District 2 seat is coming down to a runoff on July 24.

Project manager Demond Mason led the four-man field in the Democratic primary, but his 518 votes (37.76 percent) weren’t enough to avoid a runoff. He’ll face salesman Earnest L. Simmons, who drew 329 votes (23.98 percent).

Neither Mason nor Simmons could be reached for comment.

Steven Rhodes (294 votes) and Antonio Ross (231 votes) rounded out the field seeking to succeed Commissioner Lanier Sims, a Democrat from Covington who is not seeking re-election.

The runoff will decide the board seat, as there is no Republican opposition.

A second seat on the Board of Commissioners will be decided in the Nov. 6 general election. Democratic incumbent J.C. Henderson and Republican challenger Spencer Arnhart were unopposed Tuesday.

Newton County Democrats joined their statewide peers in choosing Stacey Abrams by a wide margin as their nominee for governor.

Abrams pulled 81 percent of the vote locally and 76 percent statewide against Stacey Evans. Abrams is the first black female nominee for governor in U.S. history.

Local Republicans picked the two candidates who made their runoff for governor, although the order differed from the rest of the state.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle led the statewide vote count in the GOP primary for governor with Secretary of State Brian Kemp finishing second. In Newton County, however, Kemp led the way.

Former state Sen. Rick Jeffares, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, had a bit of a home field advantage in Newton County. He represented the area in the General Assembly from 2011-17.

Jeffares, of McDonough, carried Newton in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor but didn’t make the July runoff. Instead, Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer of Duluth and former state Rep. Geoff Duncan of Atlanta will meet in the Republican runoff.

Triana Arnold James carried the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor locally, but Sarah Riggs Amico won the nomination.

Local voters seemed pleased with their representation at the Gold Dome. All local incumbents in the General Assembly won Tuesday.

Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, won the nomination for a full term representing District 17 in a rout against challenger Nelva Lee. He’ll face Democrat Phyllis D. Hatcher in the Nov. 6 general election.

Sen. Tonya P. Anderson, D-Lithonia, won her party’s nomination convincingly over challenger Joel Thibodeaux. There is no GOP challenger.

Rep. Dale Rutledge, R-McDonough, won the nomination easily over challenger J. Blake Prince in House District 109. He’ll face Democrat Regina Lewis-Ward, who defeated Denise Gaines-Edmond.

Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, was re-elected by getting about 63 percent of the vote over challenger Sharon Henderson. There is no Republican competition.

Reps. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, and Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, were unopposed.

Both of Newton County’s congressmen were nominated for re-election by wide margins.

In District 4, Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson of Lithonia got nearly 80 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against challenger Juan Parks.

Johnson will face Republican Joe Profit, a businessman and former Atlanta Falcons running back, in the general election.

In District 10, Rep. Jody Hice of Greensboro pulled 79 percent of the vote in a three-man GOP primary.

Tabitha A. Johnson-Green appeared to have just gotten enough votes to avoid a runoff in the Democratic primary. In unofficial returns with all precincts reporting, the Washington County registered nurse got 50.2 percent of the votes in the three-candidate race.