RJ Hadley, left, who is the apparent winner in the Rockdale County tax commissioner's race, gets a congratulatory handshake from Rockdale Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Oden, who won re-election Tuesday night. Turnout in Rockdale for the General Election was estimated at 75 percent. Staff Photo: Lee Depkin
CONYERS -- As part of a nearly complete Democratic sweep in Rockdale County balloting, both incumbents on the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners will retain their leadership positions following hard-fought campaigns.
Chairman Richard Oden defeated Republican challenger Jason Hill, 53.74 percent to 46.19 percent in Tuesday's General Election balloting.
Oz Nesbitt, the Post 1 commissioner, defeated political newcomer Republican Tom Harrison, 54.51 percent to 45.37 percent.
Oden campaigned on his first-term accomplishments, saying that he had proven to be a proficient fiscal manager and had shown visionary leadership, pointing to $7 million in grants the county obtained during his tenure and numerous road improvement projects.
Oden gave thanks on several fronts Tuesday night for his election win.
"First of all I want to say thank you to my Lord and Savior, and the next thing is I want to congratulate my opponent for a worthy showing," Oden said. "The third thing is I want to thank all the citizens of Rockdale County for their confidence in me. I think it is very critically important that we come together as one community with one goal and do some atonement to bring our community back together and move forward as one community."
Hill, who served one term on the BOC before being defeated in 2008 by Nesbitt, ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and greater economic development through improved infrastructure.
"I just want to thank everybody who voted for me and everybody who supported me because it was overwhelming the number of people who put their time and effort on the line for my campaign, and I think we did everything we did for the right reasons," Hill said Tuesday night.
Hill also expressed concern about the Democratic sweep and apparent race-based voting that ousted experienced leaders like Tax Commissioner Dan Ray and Probate Court Judge Lillis Brown.
"If the African-American voters don't start paying attention to what is better for them and their community and not voting based on race or party, then we are never going to get the leadership we deserve in this county," Hill said. "When you send people like Dan Ray and Lillis Brown out of office, you're simply not paying attention."
During his campaign for re-election, Nesbitt said he hoped to continue the "spirit of welcome" that has been generated in Rockdale County government during his term.
Nesbitt said he planned to work to attract new business and industry to the county and secure pay increases for county employees. Nesbitt also pointed to improvements realized in the fire department and Rockdale Water Resources.
Nesbitt could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Harrison campaigned on his experience in the water and sewerage industry and a desire to bring a spirit of cooperation back to the BOC. Harrison said he was also concerned about fiscal responsibility and the need to get the county's budget under control.
"I am personally disappointed (in the outcome), and proud of the race I ran," Harrison said in an emailed statement Tuesday night. "But I am more disappointed for the future of Rockdale County."