Kimbell pulls out of runoff for BoE


Numbers show McCarty faces fierce challenge in District 5

Fayette County voters answered some questions but left the future unclear for a number of would-be politicians during the May 20 primary election.

In a big surprise, the second-place finisher in the District 4 Board of Education Republican race has withdrawn from the runoff.

Steve Brown avoided a runoff election for the Post 3 Republican race, and he will start a second four-year term in January without opposition on the Democratic side. He took the primary with 52.63 percent over fellow former mayors Harold Logsdon (39.8 percent) and Don Haddix (7.54 percent).

The other Republican race on the ballot, a four-way battle for the District 4 seat on the Fayette County Board of Education, was not entirely settled by voters. None of the candidates won a majority, so top vote-getters Diane Basham (38.79 percent) and John Kimbell (36.09 percent) seemed to be set to square off in the July 22 primary runoff, with the winner facing Democrat Ogechi Oparah in the November election.

However, Kimbell has withdrawn from the race, he told The Citizen in an email Monday. “I have found myself in the unfortunate position of having to withdraw from the race due to a job related matter,” Kimbell wrote. “I passed your request along to Ms. Jane Owens, who will move into the runoff.”

Owens was the third-place finisher in the primary balloting.

Another political seat with big implications for Fayette County remained undecided with a runoff also slated for the District 16 seat in the Georgia Senate. Seven candidates are vying to replace retiring Sen. Ronnie Chance, but none in the field got a majority. The runoff pits Tyrone financial manager Marty Harbin (26.3 percent) against Fayetteville attorney David Studdard (21.57 percent).

This was the county’s first election under the new court-ordered district voting map, forced by a federal lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A federal judge approved slicing Fayette up into five districts, and voters will no longer be able to vote for all five seats on the county board of education or the county commission.

The judge’s map included the creation of a special 5th district which has a majority of voting age residents who are black. That district stretches from part of Fayetteville northward and then to the west toward Tyrone.

And it is that 5th District that may have given the most interesting results of the primary election, and perhaps a preview of what is to come in November. Incumbent county commissioner Allen McCarty was the only Republican running, and he will face Democratic challenger Pota Coston in November.

The two were not running head to head, and neither McCarty nor Coston faced opposition from their own party. Nonetheless, Coston managed to outpoll him 1,415 Democrat votes to 959 for McCarty from Republican voters.

In the board of education races, some 2,444 people voted Republican in the District 4 race, while 639 cast ballots for the lone Democratic challenger, Ogechi Oparah.

However, in the District 5 race, incumbent Democrat Leonard Presberg has a virtual lead of 1,390 to the 914 votes received for Republican challenger Dean B. Dunton. Whether that tally will even come close to panning out, as with all questions about how the parties’ candidates will fare, has to wait until the Nov. 4 general election.