CONYERS -- The stage is set for the chairman's race for Rockdale Board of Commissioners, which will pit incumbent Democrat Richard Oden against Republican challenger Jason Hill in the General Election.
Oden won the Democratic Primary Tuesday with 55.59 percent of the vote, defeating Brian Jenkins by a margin of 845 votes.
Oden said Wednesday the victory was hard won but he felt blessed.
"I'm just excited about the future," he said. "I'm going to continue to reunite and rebuild this community and reenergize our community. We are excited; we are going to push forth into November and put our record on the table for the citizens to make their choice."
Oden is seeking his second term in office.
Hill received 8,121 votes in the Republican Primary, more than the two Democrats combined. Hill said in a statement Wednesday he is ready to move forward with his campaign into November and work for a change in leadership.
"I am excited about my opportunity to lay out a new vision for Rockdale County in the coming months," Hill said. "On Nov. 6, we plan to send a message that our county deserves better leadership than we are getting right now. The current chairman has shown a pattern of not paying attention to the needs of this community and often having his eyes and ears elsewhere. I have the ability and desire to change the way our county government serves our people and the experience that we need at this crucial time for our county. My supporters and I look forward to the campaign and plan to work hard to ensure victory."
Hill previously served as Post 1 commissioner on the Rockdale Board of Commissioners. He was unseated by newcomer Oz Nesbitt in 2008. Nesbitt won the Democratic Primary for Post 1 Tuesday night, defeating Conyers businessman Jerry Shepperd with 59.3 percent of the vote.
Despite his loss, Jenkins said he was "extremely humbled" by the 3,359 people who voted for him in the chairman's race. Now Jenkins said he is ready to launch a campaign of a different sort.
"My campaign has just begun," he said. "One thing I would love to incorporate in Rockdale County is a new Democratic Party."
Jenkins said he felt his campaign was not only against Oden but also against the Democratic Party. Jenkins said he believes his $3,100 qualifying fee was used against him by the party in favor of supporting the incumbent. In addition, he said there was never any accounting by the party for how the qualifying fees were spent.
"I think that that's akin to modern-day robbery," Jenkins said. "They can do whatever they want with the money. I would like to research that and change that."
Jenkins said he began working Wednesday to "usher in a whole new Democratic Party in Rockdale County; one that is open to all Democrats; one that doesn't try to remove a person because they don't agree with him; one that is inclusive from top to bottom, and its main goal is to focus on ways to strengthen Rockdale County, not divide Rockdale County."
Finally, Jenkins said he chose to run for office "solely because of my love for Jesus Christ. I could not allow Rockdale County to sink in the manner in which it has been sinking and sit idly by and not try to change the course."