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Primary Election on May 21

By Paul Bolster

Voters will select party candidates on the May 21 Primary ballot. Since all of the voting precincts in the Porch Press area have overwhelmingly voted in favor of Democrats in in the last few elections, this primary will likely select who our future elected officials will be. Some races for county-wide office will present voters with a choice, but we will focus this article on the local races.


House District 90 – Two current members have been forced by Republican dominated redistricting to run against each other. Both are strong Democrats and are uncomfortable with the challenge. We have asked each to write a short article stating their case for reelection which appears elsewhere in this issue.

Go to to read an article on this race written by Emory University intern Ashley Shu. 

DeKalb Commission District 3 – This is a mess. The incumbent, Larry Johnson, has resigned to run for CEO. The Board of Elections at this writing has decided due to “legal issues” that a special election to fill the unexpired term cannot be called during the May 21 Primary. They plan to fill the position in the November General Election. Some legislators think the law could change and so we will wait and see. For now East Atlanta has no representation on the County Commission.

There are contested elections for  county-wide offices. Here are the choices.

CEO – Steven Smith Bradshaw; Lorraine Cochran-Johnson; Larry Johnson.

Sheriff – Melody M. Maddox; Rita A. Scott; Lance Lawyer Hammonds

State Court Judge Division A-3 – Yolanda Mack, Dionne McGee

State Court Judge Division A-6 – Ala Maria Martinez, Tyshawn Yvonne Jackson


County Commission District 4 – The incumbent Fulton District 4 Fulton Commissioner will be challenged in the Primary. The two challengers are both from Grant Park. 

Commissioner Natalie Hall was elected to a four-year term in 2020. The Porch Press was not able to reach Commissioner Hall by press deadline for an interview after numerous attempts. Her website says she “maintains a strong conviction that government should work for the people. Thus she has committed her voice to ensure that all people have a fair and equal representation.” 

Mo Ivory is a lawyer who has taught at Georgia State Law School for the past six years. She ran for a seat on the Atlanta City Council six years ago and was narrowly defeated by incumbent councilwoman Carla Smith. She mothered six children from a “beautiful blended family.” Her sons were educated through ANCS and Maynard Jackson High School She has lived in Grant Park for 37 years and has a resume of community service that is too long to cover in this article. Voters are encouraged to read her full history of community engagement on her website. 

We asked her what she would like to accomplish in the County Commission? First, she said she would need a full assessment of the status of county government. “A candidate doesn’t get to read all the documents and the detailed budgets that direct the county government and so the first step is to do a careful review. Everybody knows the broad issues that need attention are: taxes, homelessness, mental health services, senior services, the court system, public safety, and the jail. Review first and then set an action plan.” She feels her legal experience and connection to the law school will help her access what needs to be done to improve the efficiency and fairness of the of the justice system, which is the largest responsibility of county government. She “would like to get a better understanding of the disparity between the assessment of residential and commercial property which seems to be an issue that divides business and residential interests.”

Sonya Russell Ofchus has had a 25-year career as a law enforcement officer; first with the federal government and then with the Atlanta Police Department. Four years ago she ran against Fulton  Commission Chair Rob Pitts, and three year ago she challenged At large City Council Member Matt Westmoreland. She grew up in Peoplestown and went to King Middle School and Carver High School. She coached the girls from Carver on a AAU basketball team. 

She wants more accountability and transparency from county government. “I don’t think the money is going to where it is intended to go.” What does she hope to accomplish? She highlighted ethics issues. “I will bring trust in county government back to the community. I will make sure our tax dollars are going for what they are intended and not bad behavior.” She expressed concern about incidents of break-ins of cars parked on the street, and feels part of the problem is “poor street lighting that keeps residents from using their cameras to monitor activity.” She believes the county and the city should be “partnering to solve the street crime issue.” She will be working to find a way to lessen the taxes seniors are paying to support the public school system and again “the county should partner with the city to accomplish this.” 

Georgia State Senate District 36

Senator Nan Orrock – It is very hard to summarize Nan Orrock’s history of community service and legislative leadership. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1987 (the year I left the seat) and was sworn in the Senate in 2007. That’s 37 years as a legislator under Georgia’s gold dome. You are encouraged to go to the state legislative site ( to read the official biography. 

Nan has been one of the most progressive members of the legislature and every year hopes that fits with the people in her district. She has spent her career working for equal access to housing, healthcare and justice. When the cultural wars dominate the political discourse on the floor of the Senate, she declares she will be the champion of women’s rights, minority rights, and the individual rights of groups which are often targets of the present Senate majority.  Despite complete Republican control of the Senate her experience helps her “reach across the aisle.” She is proud Georgia has the beginning of a needs-based college and technical school scholarship program. “That came from working with Republicans behind the scenes and I think we can expand it over time.” But “it’s shameful Georgia keeps putting more money for higher income people into the voucher program so more kids get a ‘private’ education and it is a shame we are not using the available federal dollars to fully expand Medicaid. The Governor’s weak program, which costs more than the full expansion, is only serving a small fraction of the uninsured people in the state. Why not take the federal money like we have taken it for everything else?” 

Michel Powell – By the deadline for this article no information was available on this candidate. No website, no address, and no phone number were available from the Secretary of State’s office. She could not be reached for an interview.

County-Wide Races

Clerk of Superior Court – incumbent Che’ Alexander, Joe Hughes, Keish Sean Waites, Rodney Fowler.

Sheriff – incumbent Pat Labat, J.T. Brown, Joyce Farmer, Kirt Beasley.

Tax –Commissioner – incumbent Arthur E Ferdinand, Duvwon Robinson.

District Attorney – incumbent Fani Willis, Christian Wise Smith.

All readers are encouraged to browse the websites of candidates and see their pitch. It is even better if you have an opportunity to see them in person.

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