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Qualifying yields two local contested races

By Walter Geiger Qualifying for the May 24 general and non-partisan primaries ended at noon Friday and, when the smoke had cleared, Lamar countians were left with two local contested races to look forward to this campaign season. Incumbent sheriff Brad White qualified as a Republican to retain his seat. He will be challenged by Frank Usher III who qualified as a Democrat. Those two will face off in November. Usher listed his occupation as instructor. White won his first term four years ago when he topped Usher and independent candidate and former sheriff Joe Buice. White finished with 4658 votes while Buice had 1478 and Usher drew 1318. The other contested race will be for district attorney. Incumbent Richard Milam of Jackson qualified to retain his post. He is opposed by Jonathan Adams of Forsyth who is currently an assistant district attorney in Macon. Ryran Traylor, a health administrator, was the only candidate to qualify in the district 3 county commission race. With no primary or general election opposition, Traylor will replace Van Baker who is retiring next January. Other contested races arose at the federal level. Veteran U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican, qualified for reelection. He drew two GOP opponents in Derrick Grayson, a network engineer from Redan, and Mary Kay Bacallao, a college professor from Fayetteville. Four Democrats qualified. They are Cheryl Copeland, Hiram, project manager; James Knox, IT specialist; John F. Coyne III, CEO and Jim Barksdale, Atlanta, businessman. Neither Knox nor Coyne listed their addresses. There is also a crowded field in the race to replace District 3 U.S. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland who is retiring. Chip Flanegan, small business owner, Jonesboro; Drew Ferguson, dentist, West Point; Jim Pace, businessman, Peachtree City; and Mike Crane, contractor; Richard Mix, business owner; Samuel Anders, retired military; and Arnall ‘˜Rod’ Thomas, all of Newnan; qualified as Republicans. Tamarkus Cook is the lone Democrat in the race. He did not list his hometown. Lamar’s state legislative delegation will remain unchanged as Sen. Marty Harbin, Rep. David Knight and Rep. Johnnie Caldwell Jr. are all running unopposed. Multiple local officials are also running unopposed. They are Nancy Thrash, district 3 county commissioner; Caleb Tyson, clerk of court; Jim Smith, coroner; Kathy Martin, probate judge; Andrea Anthony, tax commissioner; Horace Hightower, district 1 school board member; Susan Byars, district 3 school board member; and Karen R. Jackson, chief magistrate judge. Additionally, Sandi Rivers will run for district attorney in Henry County. She served briefly as assistant district attorney here, beginning Oct. 1, 2015.

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