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Historic election tops stories in Rockdale

Rockdale County’s new sheriff, Eric Levett, is congratulated after taking the oath of office in ceremonies held Sunday evening at the Rockdale Auditorium. Levett, surrounded by family members, was administered the oath by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein.

Rockdale County’s new sheriff, Eric Levett, is congratulated after taking the oath of office in ceremonies held Sunday evening at the Rockdale Auditorium. Levett, surrounded by family members, was administered the oath by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein.

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Sunday marked the end of an historic election season in Rockdale County in which Democrats swept Republicans from long-held local offices. The newly elected and re-elected Democrats, as well as non-partisan candidates, were sworn into office Sunday evening. Shown here following the ceremony are: front row, left to right, Superior Court Judge Robert Mumford, Clerk of Courts Ruth Wilson, Chief Magistrate Court Judge Phinia Aten, State Court Judge Nancy Bills, Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt Sr., Coroner George Levett Jr., Sheriff Eric Levett, Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Oden; back row, Probate Court Judge Charles Mays and Tax Commissioner Rakeim Hadley.

CONYERS — An election that captured the attention of Rockdale residents for more than half the year was the biggest story in Rockdale County in 2012.

The election story — which included a dramatic sweep of Democrats elected to county offices — culminated Sunday evening with the swearing in of the newly elected and re-elected.

The historic sea change in leadership saw five Democrats elected to fill positions previously long held by Republicans. Democrats elected to replace Republicans were Sheriff Eric Levett, Magistrate Court Judge Phinia Aten, Probate Court Judge Charles Mays, Tax Commissioner Rakeim Hadley and Coroner George Levett. In addition, incumbent Democrats Ruth Wilson, clerk of courts; Richard Oden, chairman of the Board of Commissioners; and Oz Nesbitt, Post 1 commissioner, successfully defended challenges by Republicans. In nonpartisan races, State Court Judge Nancy Bills was re-elected without opposition, and Robert Mumford was elected Superior Court judge, filling the seat previously held by the retiring Senior Judge Sidney Nation.

Hundreds of family members, friends and well-wishers gathered at the Rockdale Auditorium Sunday evening for a ceremony swearing in Rockdale’s newly-elected and re-elected officials.

Emcee Karyn Greer, an anchor with 11 Alive news, commented on the historic nature of the event and the outpouring of support for the elected officials.

“Wow, what a full house!” she exclaimed as she opened her remarks, adding, “Rockdale County actually turns the page of history, with the swearing in and installation of its newly elected officials on this Sunday, Dec. 30.”

Greer also noted the historic significance of the “slate of eight African American Democrats” who were being sworn into office Sunday. For five of those offices — sheriff, coroner, Magistrate Court judge, Probate Court judge and tax commissioner — it is the first time they will be held by an African American.

“This is truly a day to rejoice and be proud here in Rockdale County,” she said.

Adding to the historic nature of the event, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein was on hand to administer the oath of office to each new and returning official.

The crowd shared its enthusiastic support, standing and cheering before and after each was called forward to take the oath. Sheriff Eric Levett received the longest and strongest reaction from the crowd, likely due to the nature of his election, which was finally determined by a recount in November.

A campaign season that began before the primaries in July and included numerous candidate forums through the summer and fall, came down to just a handful of votes in the race for Rockdale County sheriff.

At the end of the Nov. 6 General Election balloting, incumbent Jeff Wigington held a razor-thin 18-vote lead over Levett, who was an officer in the Sheriff’s Office.

A final count of provisional and mail-in ballots from military personnel and overseas civilians three days later reversed the unofficial results, giving Levett a 34-vote edge over Wigington, a 16-year incumbent.

A recount, conducted one week after the General Election balloting, changed the earlier results by two votes, confirming a Levett win with a 32-vote margin.

At the conclusion of Sunday evening’s swearing-in ceremony, Greer reminded those in the audience that the campaigns were over and the oaths had been taken, but those in elected office would still need their support.

“It’s very important that the process doesn’t end here tonight,” she said.

Comments

kt 1 year, 7 months ago

We are all going to hell in a hand basket. What a depressing way to bring in the new year!

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Carole 1 year, 7 months ago

When you say "we" you must have a mouse in your pocket..! I am not going to hell, handbasket or no..! I am ECSTATIC about Eric Levett winning our Sheriff's race..Very positive move, people who voted for Eric...Thanks.....

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ctownslimm 1 year, 7 months ago

Eric Levett is the only local Democrat I would have voted for. I think he will do fine. I am convinced the rest are here to take advantage of our county. If the jobs of commissioners and tax commissioner and judges were open for interviews to the general public instead of election, none of these candidates would have been hired. They are completely unqualified. They rely on a voter base with an ulterior motive. A voter base that was glad that OJ Simpson got away with murder.

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Carole 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you for having a positive outlook about Eric's position as Sheriff..not all people have faith in the "good people" in office like I do...

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superman 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm sure I'm not the only one that didn't vote for Eric, but think out of the 8 democrats he's the best one. I don't think Eric can match what Jeff provided for our community and truly believe Jeff was the better choice. But the people of Rockdale have spoken. I support him as my Sheriff and hopefully with time comes experience. Who knows, maybe one day he'll be a better Sheriff than Jeff was.

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maryinga 1 year, 7 months ago

I just hope and pray that the people here will take care of our county and remember that they are working for us. Trying to keep an open mind and give them a chance. Good luck to all.....

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Spydee 1 year, 7 months ago

And we all KNOW that Rockdale County is FULL of NEW "democrats"

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travelingman 1 year, 7 months ago

Levett is a drastic improvement over Wigington hands down. Old Wigington should have been gone a long long time ago. He wasn't graceful in stepping down. I am so glad he is gone. O. J. Simpson was initially acquitted of murder but he didn't get away with it. In spite of what people think, Clark didn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Simpson was actually guilty. I tend to lean against the notion of double jeopardy. Some people don't know what they're talking about. As an educated man I feel obligated to set people straight.

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peenut811 1 year, 7 months ago

WTH are you talking about???

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superman 1 year, 7 months ago

Some sort of comparison between Jeff not being graceful when losing his reelection bid and OJ Simpson ultimately winding up in jail? What should have Jeff been gone a "long" "long" time ago? Since you're educated please explain this to me.

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JayPee 1 year, 7 months ago

As I've said in the past, the Sheriff, Tax Commissioner, Coroner and Judges should be non-Partisan! The Republican candidates lost each race, not because of qualifications, but political affiliations.

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superman 1 year, 7 months ago

Very much agreed! I've always wondered by the Sheriff was a partisan position. Can someone explain this to me?

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AJK 1 year, 7 months ago

Because Democrats and Republicans run the Georgia Legislature, they make the rules.

The only way to change it, elect a bunch of independents. But do you know how difficult it is to get on the ballot as an independent? And do you know why that is? Because Democrats and Republicans run the Georgia Legislature, they make the rules.

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INJUSTICE_FOR_ALL 1 year, 7 months ago

They will always screw up a good thing.

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1ayk 1 year, 7 months ago

Welcome to the metro band of idiots.Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, part of Cobb and Gwinnett and now Rockdale are dying and will not progress. Only the elected officials who are now in charge will benifit due to non-informed populace. You get what you vote for!

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Tiger 1 year, 7 months ago

Then move if you don't like it.

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disgustedwithpeople 1 year, 7 months ago

Tired of all the whining! Move already!!!

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1ayk 1 year, 7 months ago

Not whinning, just stating fact that you can't handle. If this type of government is working so well why are the liberals leaving and ruinning other areas? I have lived here for a quarter of a century, how long have you been here? I do not like paying taxes to morons and I mean morons.

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Clark 1 year, 7 months ago

1ayk: I have to agree with you on our local government. I don't know what the disconnect is, but out here at least, Liberal local government doesn't work well at all.

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Tiger 1 year, 7 months ago

Well you paid taxes to morons before they took over office, so you should be be a pro at it by now.

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disgustedwithpeople 1 year, 7 months ago

I have been in Rockdale County for 46 years. Some of our newly elected officials have never been in office and I just think that they should be given a chance. Yes there are some elected officials that are not the better choice for Rockdale but a vote was taken and they won and they will be in place until the next election. It just bothers me that a lot of comments are generalizing people based on their race before they even get a chance to prove themselves!!!!!

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kt 1 year, 7 months ago

Then when we move we get accused of the great "white flight" or not fighting for the county we were born and raised in. Don't like it? Don't read it.

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Tiger 1 year, 7 months ago

Great white what? I never heard that one before. So what about the African Americans that were born and raised in the county before you?

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1ayk 1 year, 7 months ago

If they were born here how can they be "African?"

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kt 1 year, 7 months ago

The great black people who were here before I was would've never let county go down like it did. Because they held jobs, sent their kids to public schools and CARED about their success and loved living in the Community. They are long long gone, because once they saw the trash that was moving in wit Soulcrest, they knew it was time to go.

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Clark 1 year, 7 months ago

Bring MARTA rail (no local buses!) into the county, and watch it improve!

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mark 1 year, 7 months ago

Another disaster in the works. Can anyone please name a local government anywhere in the state where going from Republican to Democrat has been a positive? Atlanta has become one of the most corrupt cities in the country, Dekalb and Clayton have major problems with the school system and on and on it goes. Plus did anyone else see Atlanta magazine and where Rockdale ranks as far as graduation rates? Anyone woth an ounce of inteligence knew that Dr. King was blowing smoke.

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Frustrated 1 year, 7 months ago

The jury, in my opinion, is still out on Levett. Im still not convinced he has what it takes to be a good leader.

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disgustedwithpeople 1 year, 7 months ago

It amazes me how people or so quick to judge Sheriff Levett, people need to give him a chance. I don't know if it's racism or ignorance but both are negative adjectives. I pray that 2013 brings change for the better in Rockdale County. I wish Sheriff Levett the best of luck!

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Frustrated 1 year, 7 months ago

I wish him luck too. He's going to need it.

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Elmo 1 year, 7 months ago

Time - which has no color - will tell the tale.

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Frustrated 1 year, 7 months ago

Well at least three out of the five judges actually have a clue. Glad we still have Irwin, Mumford and Bills. Maybe they can cover some of the ineptness that will be coming from Magistrate and Probate Courts in the future.

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Tiger 1 year, 7 months ago

Irwin sure, the other 2 not so much.

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1ayk 1 year, 7 months ago

Unless they were born in Africa, they are not african americans, they are americans of african heritage (maybe). Why not say more liberals were elected this time around!

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heresyafacts 1 year, 7 months ago

So glad to hear that Karyn Greer's happy.

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1ayk 1 year, 7 months ago

Historic!? What is so historic about the majority in this county, meaning blacks, voting in black candidates? Just think of all the time, money and dedication building this county only to be turned over to incompetence.

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Frustrated 1 year, 7 months ago

Maybe now that Ramsey's friends have been elected he will be more willing to sign off and make all the judicial positions nonpartisan. Ramsey you didnt fool anyone by witholding your support for that when everyone else did.

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MadHatter 1 year, 7 months ago

According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, whites make up 48.9% of Rockdale's population whereas blacks represent 46.7%.

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TrueLife 1 year, 7 months ago

This white / black stuff gets old. Why keep bringing it up? It's like the hamster in the wheel thing.

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1ayk 1 year, 7 months ago

The blacks keep bringing it up. First black this, first black that etc...I doubt they would be so enthusiastic with the first black republican doing something! So far the new black elected officials have yet to prove or do anything to disprove their being elected, however the other first blacks elected here have be a dismal disappointment and it has to be brought up (little good it does).

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INJUSTICE_FOR_ALL 1 year, 7 months ago

IT's sad but true. white areas vs black areas. Do i need to say more/explain?

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AMAZED1956 1 year, 7 months ago

**Seems strange that now days most black people are Democrats and many white people are Republicans. While it was a Repulican that freed the slaves it was a Demorat that started the KKK.

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