The Georgia Citizen

Keeping Georgians Informed.

Many Surprises in Clayton County! Tracey Lawson-Graham Scores Big Victory! Jeff Turner Shocks the County! Sheriff Race Heads to a Run-off! Two Upsets in House Races!

Clayton County, Georgia has again richly earned its reputation for colorful and zestful politics.  Jeff Turner, the fired Clayton County Police Chief, quietly put together a campaign in which he equaled the votes of two-term Commission Chairman, Eldrin Bell.  This appeared to be a real shocker.  Many well-seasoned political pundits of Clayton County did not see this coming.  Eldrin Bell, who generally does quite well among white voters in the Clayton, principally because of his early opposition to former sheriff Victor Hill, seems to have lost ground among the white voters in Clayton County who apparently turned out in large numbers in the Clayton County Democratic Primary.  There’s not much activity going on in the Republican Primary in Clayton County, and this group of voters who are quite seasoned to the rough and tumble of Clayton County politics chose to pick up a Democratic ballot rather than walk into the GOP Primary which has virtually nothing going on.  When the numbers are counted, one will find that the white voters in Clayton County had a disproportionate impact among the voters.  Roberta Abdul-Salaam’s 16% of the vote threw this Commission Chairman’s race into a run-off.  Ms. Abdul-Salaam served several years in the George House of Representatives.  Who will draw upon her support for the run-off?  This remains to be seen.

Commission Chair Candidate Jeff Turner

Part of this disproportionate impact of white voters in the Clayton County Democratic Primary no doubt is attributed to these voters’ loyalty to Clayton County District Attorney, Tracey Lawson-Graham.  Ms. Lawson-Graham, a white D. A. with a Duke University law degree and a sound pedigree from years working in the D. A.’s office as an Assistant, soundly defeated incumbent District Attorney Jewel Scott in 2008.  Her equally solid defeat of former Clayton County Solicitor General, Leslie Miller-Terry, shows that she has drawing power among black voters as well as white voters.  She was endorsed by current Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Moseley who happens to be African-American.  District Attorney Lawson-Graham appears to be quite deft and facile in her new arena of politics.

District Attorney Tracey Lawson-Graham

Kem Kimbrough, the incumbent sheriff, only drew 42% of the vote in his first bid for re-election.  He was the top vote-getter, but garnered much less than he needed to win the Democratic Primary without a run-off.  He will face his nemesis of 2008, the former controversial sheriff, Victor Hill.  Victor Hill was indicted earlier this year by the Clayton County Grand Jury at the urging of District Attorney Lawson-Graham.  This run-off for sheriff ought to prove to be a real show-down.  Get your tickets early and bring your own popcorn!

Gail Hambrick garnered 75% of the vote in her re-election bid to the Clayton County Commission.  Wole Ralph, however, was not quite so fortunate.  Newcomer to politics, Shana Rooks captured 43% of the vote compared to Ralph’s 44%.  Ralph had a year of controversial publicity in his personal life which could have led voters to switch their allegiances.  Ronald Ringer pulled 13% of the vote in this race.  His loyal supporters could prove instrumental in this Commission race.

There were two big upset in the Clayton County legislative delegation.  Mike Glanton, who has served in the Georgia State House in another district, ran against one-term Yasmin Neal.  He trounced incumbent Neal by 56% to 44%, although  Representative Neal made some last ditch efforts, including a mailing with her picture with former President Bill Clinton and Georgia legislative leader Calvin Smiley.  It appears that she did too little too late.  Most observers contend that Mike Glanton simply outworked her.

J. B. Stanley (l), Dr. Glenn Dowell (c), and

Norreese Haynes (r) enjoying watching the returns.

The other upset involved life-time resident Glenn Baker getting defeated by a rather new resident of this area, Demetrius Douglas.  This district juts from the Lake Spivey area into Henry County.  Mr. Douglas, a former linebacker with the University of Georgia Bulldogs, resides right across the line in Henry County.  When the precincts from Henry County came in, he beat Representative Baker three to one in these Henry County precincts which drew very few white voters because most white voters cast their ballots in the heavily-contested GOP Primary in this county.

Representative Darryl Jordan beat back the efforts of the former chairman of the Clayton County Democratic Party, Kevin Thomas.  Mr. Thomas appeared to be heavily financed but Representative Jordan sent out some very effective mailings and continued to stationed his beautiful signs throughout the district.  Both side had many supporters holding up signs on the sides of the road for several weeks.  This was a very hotly-contested race, and Representative Jordan is headed back down to the Capitol for his seventh term with a 56% to 44% victory.

Dr. John Trotter (l) and Norreese Haynes (r)

celebrating victory with Rep. Darryl Jordan (c).

Newcomer Valencia Stovall defeated Charles Davis %6% to 44% in the House seat vacated by Roberta Abdul-Salaam.  Ms. Stovall may have profited by having the same first name as State Senator Valencia Seay whose Senate district covers this area and who once held this House seat herself at one time.

Sandra Scott proves that her victories in past were not flukes when she won a seat on the Clayton County Board of Education and her victory to the State House in 2010.  This Fannie Lou Hamer of Clayton County who is unafraid to speak her mind apparently has a strong following in the Northeast portion of Clayton County.  She beat back two challengers and won again without a run-off, garnering an impressive 57% of the vote.

The battle of the two Gails continues to rage in State Senate District 44.  Each Gail has won the seat on a number of occasions.  Gail Davenport once held the seat and was defeated by Gail Buckner.  Gail Buckner relinquished the seat to run for Georgia Secretary of State.  Gail Davenport took back the seat, only to be challenged by Mike Glanton in 2010.  Davenport beat Glanton fairly easily but is in a run for her money with Gail Buckner back in the race.  This race which sometimes appears to be confusing to the voters because of the same first names is headed for a run-off.  Davenport earned 48% to Bucker’s 42%, with Marcus Davis being the spoiler with 9% of the voter.  This Senate district reach well into DeKalb County.

What will happen next?  What are the three main things in politics?  Money, money, and money.  Money is indeed the mother’s milk of politics.  But, the money among the big mules who have consistently hung around Clayton County politics for years – principally the land developers – appears to have dried up.  Indeed, it now seems to be a valley of dry bones.  The ones who will win the run-off obviously are the ones who have the message which resonates the most with the potential voters and who can get these voters to the polls.  Money pays for the mailings and the postage, the robo-calls, the new signs, the cable ads, etc.  These things do not come free.  Someone has to pay for them.  Who can secure the gas for the tanks?  The tanks are quite menacing, provided that they have gas in their tanks.  General Patton could have relieved Bastogne much earlier had his tanks had the gas.  Who can effectively beg the best?  In politics, you have to beg for money.  It’s a rich man’s/woman’s game.  Sooner or later, a politician realizes this, even on the local level.

Eldrin has the contacts.  Can he get them to cough up more money?  Can Jeff work off the excitement of his phenomenal and surprising showing?  Can Gail Davenport convince her black voters to come back out and not be confused for whom to vote?  Can Gail Buckner convince her white voters to come back out in disproportionate numbers?  Obviously, race will be a mitigating factor in this race, despite protestations to the contrary.  Let’s all be adults about this.  Who will get the lion share of the black vote in the Commission Chairman’s race?  It appears that both Eldrin and Jeff did very well among the white voters.  Both have strong support among white voters.  Will Roberta make a difference?  Finally, can Victor get the black voters to turn out in huge numbers to support him?  When Kem beat him in 2008, Victor lost nearly all of the 37% white voters in the Primary but his percentage among the black voters was over 75% but he still barely lost the race because of the white turnout.  It’s going to be a turnout game.  Who can make it happen?  It’s show time, baby, it’s show time!

John Trotter Makes His Predictions About Clayton County’s Elections On Tuesday. He Says Most Incumbents Are Safe, Though The Sheriff And The District Attorney May Suffer Upsets. He Goes Way Out On A Limb And Says That Victor Hill Pulls An Upset Without A Run-off!


Dr. John Trotter with his sons, Robert Trotter (L) and Matthew Trotter (R).  Matthew is a senior at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Georgia where he driven by his love for the theatre, and Robert is a sophomore at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi where he plays football.  Both sons were born and raised in Clayton County and never forget that they are “sons of Clayco.”  Dr. Trotter splits his time between Coweta County, Georgia and the metro area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The Georgia CitizenDr. Trotter, the elections are upon us once again.  On Tuesday, the voters go to the polls to cast their ballots.  There are not a lot of things – besides the T-SPLOST – going on statewide.  But, it appears that in many counties, there are some interesting races shaping up…which brings us to your former home, Clayton County.

Dr. John Trotter:  Yeah, Clayton County usually has a few interesting races, and this year is no exception.  But, to you tell the truth, I couldn’t tell you who all is running in many of the races over there.  But, I still have friends who live there, and I pick up a morsel or two every now and then.  In fact, just this past Friday, I was asking one of my friends who lives here in Newnan who I should vote for in a Judicial race.  This friend is an attorney, and I knew that he would have an opinion.  I asked about the other races, and he hastened to tell me that he didn’t know about these races.  We both laughed about being expatriates of the Clayco Nation.  We both seemed to know more about Clayton County politics than about Coweta County politics.  He still maintains his law practice in Clayton County.

The Georgia Citizen:  Well, that being said, what are your predictions for Clayton County?

Dr. John Trotter:  What races in particular?

The Georgia Citizen:  What about the race that everyone seems to be talking about, the Sheriff’s race?

Dr. John Trotter:  Yes, this one will be a doozie!   [Laugher.]  Well, I am pretty confident that Victor Hill will be the top vote-getter.  Now, will he just win a plurality or a majority?  I don’t know how many are in this race, but I think that there are at least six, seven, or eight.  This usually makes it almost impossible to win without a run-off, although I remember when David Scott beat a good field of Congressional candidates without a run-off.  He beat State Senator Greg Hecht, David Worley (who had almost beaten Newt Gingrich in 1990), State Senator Donzella James, and the fellow from DeKalbMabry or Mosby (but a pretty well-known fellow).  Now, that was quite a feat.  I was helping Scott back then, and I remember that most people felt that he would win but they thought he would still be in a run-off.

Victor Hill

The Georgia Citizen:  So you think that Victor Hill will be the top vote-getter despite having just been indicted by the D. A.’s office a few months earlier?

Dr. John Trotter:  Yes I do.  In fact, this indictment (which many don’t seem to understand, including yours truly) might even get Victor some sympathy vote.  He’s quite popular in Clayton County, even in other parts of Georgia.  I told people the other day that from my observation, it appears that black voters have the same affection, the same affinity for Victor Hill like they had for Hosea Williams.  They seemed to adore Hosea Williams…I presume because he showed fearlessness, especially about standing up to “the man,” so to speak.  I think that the same thing is true with Victor Hill.  I have personally witnessed this adoration, and I have heard others tell me what that when they are with him and walk into a restaurant, the people treat him like a rock star.  I have seen others examples of this type of adoration with Herschel Walker and Michael Vick.

The Georgia Citizen:  But, you are talking about just one segment of the population, the black voters.  What about the white voters?

Dr. John Trotter:  Well, you are right.  I am talking about the adoration coming from the black voters, and this is the by far the largest segment which will show up at the polls on Tuesday.  Yes, many white voters still despise Victor Hill because of what he did the first day in office in January of 2005.  Some whites, believe it or not, have gotten to know Victor Hill and personally grown to like him.  I could tell you several former white elected officials who voted for Victor Hill in 2008 and will vote for him again in 2012.  But, as a whole most white voters who actually vote in the Clayton County Democratic Primary will vote against Victor Hill, despite his “crime fighter” image.

The Georgia Citizen:  Talk about this “crime fighter” image, if you will.

Dr. John Trotter:  Well, Victor’s signs and literature have “Bring Back the Crime Fighter!”  The people seem to relish this.  There is a lot of crime in Clayton County, and one thing about Victor Hill is that the people see him as someone who is not afraid of the thugs and the criminals.  In fact, the voters seem to be saying, “Lil Vic will be our thug to fight the street thugs and to keep our communities safer.”  I do believe that the criminal element in Clayton County hopes that Victor Hill doesn’t get re-elected.  He runs a very taut ship at the county jail, and I believe that this word spreads like wild fire.

The Georgia Citizen:  Do you think that he will win without a run-off?

Dr. John Trotter:  I have told political friends that I think that it is a distinct possibility, but I am just not that clairvoyant…politically speaking, of course.  I remember when I first moved to Clayton County thirty years ago, I couldn’t find many people who were willing to tell me that they were voting for Charley Griswell, but he just kept winning and winning.  In fact, Charley never lost an election.  He ran for Commission in 1972, for Commission Chairman in 1976, 1980, and 1984, had a ten-year hiatus, came back and beat an incumbent Commissioner (Terry Starr) in 1998 and won re-election in 2002.  But, when I got to know Charley pretty well and would eat at a restaurant with him, it took him forever to get seated because it seems that every patron in the restaurant wanted to talk to him.  I see Victor Hill in very much the same mold as Charley Griswell.  They both have their detractors, but they are immensely popular with the common people.  One of my colleagues who grew up Clayton County says that every time his mother sees Victor Hill on the news, she says, “They’d better leave my lil Sheriff alone!”  Politicians anywhere would love to have this type of visceral response from his or her followers.

The Georgia Citizen:  You still didn’t give us an answer…run-off or no run-off?

Dr. John Trotter:  Oh, you’re tying me down!  Well, I look back in the year 2000, and I see Marshall Newsome in a Democratic Party Primary in Clayton County after he had been indicted for stuff that went on in his non-emergency transportation company.  I had helped Marshall run in 1996, and he was the first black person in the history of Clayton County to win a county-wide primary or a general election.  He beat an embattled incumbent coroner, Abb Dickson, in 1996 in a crowded field.  On election night, I was trying to prepare Marshall that he would be in a run-off because there just so many people in the race.  At three in the morning at Krispy Kreme on Highway 85 on the night before the election, Marshall said, “No, Trotter, I’m gonna to win without a run-off!”  And he did – big time!  Four years later, he ran for re-election after having been indicted.  Personally, I think that Marshall was not well-served by some who were running his company while he was coroner.  I don’t know if Marshall was privy to what was going on in the business.  But, that was determined by the courts.  This time in 2000, an indicted Marshall Newsome was running against eight challengers.  He won without a run-off!  [Laughter.]  So, what’s my prediction now?  I will go way out on a limb and say that Victor Hill wins the Clayton County Democratic Primary without a run-off.

The Georgia Citizen:  You must have a reason.  How have you arrived at this?

Dr. John Trotter:  Very precariously.  [Laughter.]  My close political friends say, “No way!”  Well, I look at it like this.  I think that Clayton County had about 25,000 voters in the Democratic Primary in 2008, and the white voting percentage was, if I remember correctly, about 37% which was much higher than the white population in the County at the time.  But, white voters were mad as hell and were determined to vote out Victor Hill and to take care of the Scotts, Lee and JewelLee was running for Commission Chairman, and Jewel was already the District Attorney.  White folks were up in arms and were waiting with baited breath to kick some ass at the polls.  Jewel Scott was turned out of office handedly, not even getting 40% of the vote – and she was the incumbent.  Her husband Lee, though he beat Virginia Gray and made it to the run-off against Eldrin Bell, Bell beat him fairly easily in the run-off.  Victor Hill, on the other hand, almost won it all without a run-off.  Before the early votes and the absentee votes were counted, Victor had over 50%.  The same thing the night of the run-off.  He had over 50% going into the counting of the early votes and the absentee votes.  If 37% of the vote was white (and Kimbrough took virtually all of this vote), then Victor Hill was getting, I believe, over 80% of the black vote.

The Georgia Citizen:  What about this year?  There many candidates in the race.

Dr. John Trotter:  In a race like this with a very high profile figure (and Kem Kimbrough has been on the news a lot lately…in a negative way), the also-run candidates will get very little attention.  I know that Tina Daniels or Daniel is well-liked in some quarters, but I really think that this race will boil down to Victor and Kem.  Who do the black voters want in there?  Will the white voters stick with Kimbrough with all his sexual baggage or will they shift their allegiance to Tina?  Or, will some forgive Victor and say, “Hey, with the little man in there, I felt much safer”?  I don’t know.  But, I do know that if you just totaled the black and white vote in Clayton County, you get almost 114,000 voters as of July 1, 2012.  There’s about 5,100 Asian-American voters and about 5,000 Latino-American voters in Clayton County.  But, let’s just deal with the AfricanAmerican voters and, if you will, the European-American voters.  The white voting bloc constitutes a little over 18%.  Some of these will be drained over into the GOP Primary but not much is going on over there.  I think that the Clayton County Republican Primary had about 3,000 voters in 2008.  But, let’s say that the white voters will continue to turn out in disproportionate numbers like they usually do.  So, considering  that the GOP drain which can be offset by disproportionate turnout of whites in the Democratic Primary, let’s just say that the white vote in the Clayton County Democratic Primary will remain at 18% and let’s say for argument sake that none of this vote goes to Victor (though some of it will).  This leaves 82% of the vote left on the table.  If Victor Hill just takes 65% of this vote, he wins comfortably without a run-off.  If he takes the same percentage of the black vote that he took in 2004 and 2008, he wins big time without a run-off.

The Georgia Citizen:  That’s assuming that the white vote is just 18% in the Democratic Primary, right?

Dr. John Trotter:  Yes, I said just 18% because this is the percentage of white voters in Clayton County now, and a substantial (though not near a majority) will vote in the Republican Primary.  In 2008, whites constituted 37% of the vote in the Democratic Primary, and this number was enormous given the white population at the time.  At the time, there more white voters in Clayton County and their anger was so hot toward Victor and Lee Scott.  Now, you can see why Tracey Lawson-Graham, the Clayton District Attorney, is apparently waging a campaign to get white GOP voters to switch over to the Democratic Primary.  In 2008, she got a lot of the black votes because even the black voters were sick of the Scotts.  (I actually think that their animus was toward Lee Scott but this hurt Jewell Scott tremendously.  She lost a lot of black vote that she won in 2004 against 24 year incumbent Bob Keller.)  But, let’s say that 30% of the votes in the Democratic Primary in Clayton County are white and that Victor only gets a negligible number of white votes.  There would be 70% left on the table.  Victor would need to take almost 72% of this vote to avoid a run-off.  It could be done.  Remember that Kem Kimbrough only took a very small percentage of the black vote in 2008 but he stared off with the 37% which was white voters.  Has Kimbrough make a connection with black voters since then?  I don’t know.  I don’t think that he has the same loyal support that Victor Hill has.  One other thing to keep in mind:  I did these numbers without even calculating the “Other” voters.  Some people designate themselves as “Other” when it comes to race.  Clayton County has almost 12,000Other” voters.  My observation in the past has been that many of these “Other” voters have some connection with the black community (via mixed-racial heritage, etc.).

The Georgia Citizen:  What about the D. A. race?

Dr. John Trotter:   Well, if you asked me this about a month ago, I would have told you that I thought that Lawson-Graham was going back in there.  But, in recent weeks, I hear that Leslie Miller-Terry has stepped up the pace with mailings and signs – and let’s face it, the local races are always about mailings and signs.  I think that there is a lot of interest here because of the indictment of Victor Hill and the rumored indictments of some Commissioners and possibly some County Administrators.  But, keep in mind that the old adage is that you can indict a ham sandwich.  An indictment takes place when a district attorney presents evidence to a grand jury composed of citizens, and the citizens decide to vote for or vote against the indictment.  Many times, however, there is some wrangling which takes place behind the scenes, and there is often a split vote but the public never really knows this.  But, this is why the District Attorney’s office is so powerful.  If a District Attorney is determined to indict someone, it’s not like winning a jury trial where both sides get to present their evidence and to cross examine the other side’s witnesses.  A grand jury is only presented one side of the evidence.  But, in a criminal trial, this same D. A. will have to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt about the veracity of the charges – and even then you can have one or more jurors who hold out, and no conviction occurs.  But, when someone has been “indicted,” this has the tone of being stricken down in the Holy of Holies, but in reality, many times the evidence is flimsy as well as the charges.  I think that the African-American community understands this, and this is why an “indictment” doesn’t carry the same gravity that it does in the white community.  Black people have seen their leader for several centuries being set-up, so to speak.  This is why I don’t think that the indictment of Victor Hill will have destroyed his candidacy.  In fact, it might have just had the opposite effect.

The Georgia Citizen:  What about Eldrin Bell’s race?

Dr. John TrotterEldrin will walk away with this.  He will probably be the top vote-getter for all incumbents who are being challenged on Tuesday.  I worked his campaign in 2004Eldrin, as all know, has charm and charisma.  The old ladies love him.  [Laugher.]  He can go into a church and sing like a bird!  I personally think that Eldrin will be the Commission Chairmanship as long as he wants.  He’s getting on up there in age, but if anyone could hold down the spot at age 90, it would probably be Eldrin.  He’s come a long way from the streets of Atlanta’s Fourth Ward!  [Laughter.]  Eldrin has been using a very reputable Republican communications office.  He keeps sending out slick mailings.  He may get 60% of the vote, though one opponent served several years in the Georgia House and the other opponent was the Clayton County Police Chief.  I just don’t think that the challengers have the money to mount a serious campaign and don’t have a real issue to galvanize the voters.

Chairman Eldrin Bell

The Georgia Citizen:  What about the race between Representative Darryl Jordan and former Democratic Party chairman Kevin Thomas?

Dr. John Trotter:  This could be a pretty tight race.  Representative Jordan was the first African-American man to serve in the General Assembly from Clayton County, beating a strongly entrenched incumbent, Jimmy Benefield, back in 2000.  (By the way, I don’t want to overlook State Senator Valencia Seay who was also elected that year to the Georgia House, being the first African-American female from Clayton County to serve in the General Assembly.  I remember encouraging her to run for the Clayton Board of Education back in 1992, and she became the first African-American on the Clayton School Board.)  Kevin Thomas has been working in the trenches of the local party for the last six years, but I think that Darryl Jordan will pull it off because of his steadiness and his refusal to sell out when he serves in the House.  The “Outside Influence Groups” (OIGs), as Representative Jordan calls them, tried to get him to go along with the Charter School Amendment which will be on Tuesday’s Statewide Ballot.  The Republicans needed five Democrats to go along with this initiative in order for it to be placed on the ballot as a proposed Constitutional AmendmentDarryl Jordan refused to go along with this because he saw it as a backdoor that the Republicans were trying to employ to use state funds for charter schools and private school vouchers.  This proposed amendment, if passed, will let charter school organizers by-pass local boards of education therefore by-pass local taxpayers for but still receive local school board funds.  But, these Outside Influence Groups (especially groups like ALEC) and the Republicans were able to talk several black Democrats to go along with this scheme.  Representative Jordan refused “to go along to get along,” so to speak.  As a public school advocate, I was very proud of him!  He’s “unbought and unbossed,” and I think that this goes a long way with the voters of the 77th House District.

Representative Darryl Jordan

The Georgia Citizen:  What about the 44th Senate District with incumbent Gail Davenport being challenged by former legislator Gail Buckner?

Dr. John Trotter:  This ought to be an interesting race.  Gail Davenport was the incumbent of this district once held by long-time state senator, Terrell Starr, when Gail Buckner challenged her and won.  Then Buckner decided to run for Secretary of State and relinquished the seat, and Gail Davenport won it back.  But, I think that the demographics in this newly aligned district which cuts deeply into South DeKalb will work against Gail Buckner…if the voters know that she is white.  Let’s face the obvious fact:  Race is a very mitigating factor in politics.  But, the race between the two Gails will be fun to follow on Tuesday night.

The Georgia Citizen:  What about the single district commission races?

Dr. John Trotter:  Talking about Gails, we have another Gail running for re-election in West Clayton.  I can’t remember the number for the district.  But, I think that Gail Hambrick will win fairly easily on Tuesday.  I remember when Gail first got involved politically in, I think, 1990Wade Starr and I were invited to her home, and we helped her organize the voters in the Oliver Elementary School area near her home.  Gail knew a lot of folks back then, and she still knows a lot of folks.  In the south part of the County, Ron Ringer has tossed his hat in the ring again (no pun intended).  [Laughter.]  Ron grew up here in Clayton County and has many, many relatives in the County.  But, will it be enough?  I don’t think so, but he could conceivably pull off an upset – or least force the race into a run-off – because Wole Ralph has had a pretty miserable amount of publicity since his last race.  But, the power of incumbency is real.  I think that there are three candidates in this race.  If so, it may head to a run-off.  I don’t think that Ralph will do as well as Gail Hambrick.

The Georgia Citizen:  One more race…the Yasmin Neal and Mike Glanton race.  What about it?

Dr. John Trotter:  I first met Mike Glanton, so he reminds me, on the night of the Primary Election of 2004 at Eldrin Bell’s headquarters.  Not many people in Clayton County knew him back then.  But, he threw his hat in the House seat that Gail Buckner vacated to run for the State Senate.  With Gail’s support among the white voters, he won the race in a run-off against Janice Scott who finished comfortably in the lead the first go around.  But, Mike gave up this House seat to challenge Gail Davenport for State Senate who beat him fairly soundly in 2010.  Talking about 2010, Sandra Scott surprised some folk by winning a House seat, and I think that she will hold onto that seat this year, though it might involve a run-off.  Back to Mike Glanton:  He’s a very hard working person in politics, but I really didn’t understand his decision to take on another female incumbent!  [Laughter.]  They are hard to beat.  I’m thinking that Yasmin Neal holds onto this seat.  I also think that Glenn Baker will hold onto his House seat that takes in the Lake Spivey area and also goes deep into Henry County.  I met Glenn over 30 years ago my first week in Clayton County.  He has a very facile personality and is hard-working in a campaign.  I know that his opponent played some football at my alma mater, UGA, but this race is somewhat under the radar screen, and this always helps the incumbent, even when the demographics are stacked against him or her.

The Georgia Citizen:  So, try to sum up what you think is going to happen in Clayton County on Tuesday night and what, in your opinion, is the State of the County these days.

Dr. John Trotter:  Well, like I have mentioned, I think that most of the incumbents are safe in their seats.  I think that there can be two huge upset on Tuesday night, the Sheriff’s race and the District Attorney’s race.  I have made an outrageous prediction – I was forced into this prediction! – that Victor Hill will win on Tuesday night without a run-off, and I think that you will find a different Victor Hill.  He will be just as vigilant in fighting crime and will still have this kick-ass attitude toward the thugs in the county, but you will, I think, find a wiser, more humble, and more circumspective Victor HillFull Disclosure:  I think that I have an unusual relationship with Victor Hill.  In January of 2007, I was falsely arrested by Sheriff Victor Hill at a school board meeting.  I showed up at the meeting with a protest sign (as I am wont to do).  Then Chairperson Ericka Davis and then Vice Chairperson Rod Johnson both bolted from their seats on the dais when they saw me walk into the auditorium with the protest sign and stand in the back of the auditorium without blocking anyone’s vision.  The next thing that I know is a group from the Sheriff’s Office, including Sheriff Victor Hill, showed up.  I was arrested.  It was obviously a false arrest.  I was detained in the Clayton County Jail about 28 hours, in “the hole” most of the time because if you know me, you know that I had not quit running my mouth.  I know what my rights are, and I knew that my rights had been violated.  The charges were summarily dismissed within a day or two.  A few months later, I ran into Victor, and he sincerely apologized to me and said that the arrest was based on false information provided to him by the school folks.  If you know me, you know that I do not hold grudges, especially in the arena of politics.  I have told friends that if I refused to talk to those who have said bad things about me, then I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to.  [Laughter.]  I have found Victor Hill to be very gracious and kind.  Personally, although I no longer live in Clayton County, I think the re-election of Victor Hill as Sheriff will do wonders in tamping down on the crime in Clayton County.  The drug pushers and gangbangers are afraid of Victor Hill, and “Victor’s Jail” sends chills down their spines.  In my line of work, I have been falsely arrested on a number of occasions (always unscathed, though!), and I can tell you that a stay in “Victor’s Jail” is not a pleasant experience!  [Laughter.]  It is quite daunting!

The school board seats will not be up for grabs until this November because Federal Judge Pannell changed the districts lines, and qualifying for a school board seat takes place this week.  I really don’t know what will go on here.  I do know, however, that something needs to be done about the superintendent.  I was counting them up the other day, and I realized that I have dealt with a dozen Clayton County superintendents (including the interim supes).  I think that Edmond Heatley has been the most despised and least effective of all.  This is my opinion, and I think that I know what I am talking about in this respect.

Clayton County went through, as one Ivy League school noted in its research, a racial transition quicker than any other county in the United States.  Naturally, this was going to cause much upheaval and angst among the politicos and those county employees and school system employees whose jobs and futures are often hanging in the balance.  For the dramatic and traumatic upheaval which occurred, I think that Clayton County has shown it mettle and its heart.  All of the SACS stuff with the school system was simply a fight over power and the accompanying jobs which come with this power, including which law firm was going to end up with the lucrative contract to be the school board attorneys.  Anyone with a lick a sense can see that SACS is just a money-grabbing hollow organization which unconscionably applies its so-called standards capriciously and arbitrarily.  In mind opinion, the SACS sham was simply a ruse by white powerbrokers to determine which black people would control the school board and its largess.

Once a person lives in Clayton County for any length of time, I think that it is a hard place to forget.  I think that Clayton County is a place where the sun keeps rising!  Clayton County is like a family.  It has more of a Mayberry feel than all of the other metro counties.  Or, maybe more of the Hatfields and the McCoys!  [Laugher.]  The family may sometimes feud – in fact, may often feud – but the family comes together when outsiders try to put it down.  I have lived all over the State of Georgia, but my 27 years in Clayton County were fun beyond measure and remain fond memories.

The Georgia Citizen:  Thank you, Dr. Trotter.

Dr. John Trotter:  It’s been my pleasure.   I almost forgot to mention this.  Turnout is the key, and I hear that it might rain on Tuesday, and this could alter my models.  [Laugher.]

Clayton County, Georgia…Still The Wild, Wild West!

 By Dr. John R. Alston Trotter

I just saw (yes, I am a little late of Clayton news these days) that the Morrow City Council voted off one of its members, John Lampl.  Lampl had been elected back in the late 1980s as a City Council while in his twenties.  Then, he became Morrow’s City Manager.  He held this post for years.  I don’t know any details as to why he left this post, but in March of 2010, he won overwhelmingly to re-gain a seat on the Morrow City Council in a special election.  I don’t really know John Lampl.  I think that I met him just once.  Nonetheless, I feel that the Morrow City Council has gone too far…kicking off one its members.  I thought that the voters did that; however, the voters seem to like ole John Lampl.  But, his fellow Councilpersons tend to think that he ruffles feathers and talks down to employees, a city finance director in particular.  So, they hire a law firm to “investigate” this grievance filed by the city finance director against Lampl.  The law firm “found” merit in the complaint.  Ha!  Sure the law firm “found” merit; this is what it was hired to do.

Now the City of Morrow says that John Lampl has 30 days to appeal the action of the City Council in Clayton Superior Court.  Enters Judge Deborah Benefield, the homer judge who appears to relish “handling” the difficult cases.  I don’t know if she wisely and judiciously handles them; I believe, though, that she politically dispatches with the cases, sometimes even making rude and inappropriate remarks to the lawyers whom she doesn’t appear to care for.  Deborah seems to wear her feelings on her sleeves, the very thing that a wise judge should not do.  She’s hardly “Judge Deborah” from the Bible.  Now will Clayton’s Judge Deborah give John Lampl his right to a “judicial determination,” as the Georgia Code Section requires before any office-holder can be removed from office?  She did not do this for Norreese Haynes when the rogue Clayton School Board illegally removed him from office, even after the Georgia Secretary of State had issued two investigative reports exonerating Haynes on his legal residency.  (By the way, not a member of this rogue school board lasted…all eight either resigned under duress or  were removed by the governor a few months later.  But, this is another story.)  Deborah came up with this fanciful and wild notion (wow, it was indeed a terribly written order…looking like she just cut and pasted the opposing counsel’s ludicrous arguments) that Haynes had sued the wrong party.  Wrong party?!  He sued the school board, the very entity that had illegally removed him.  Judge Deborah “bought” the opposing counsel’s fanciful and outlandish argument that Haynes should have sued Annie Bright, the Elections Coordinator.  Annie Bright?!  All Annie Bright did was simply announce that there was an opening on the school board.  That’s like suing a Funeral Director for publishing an “In Memoriam” bulletin about a gentlemen who was gunned down in cold blood by a thug.  No, you sue the thug, not the funeral director.  [As aside:  I think that Judge Deborah Benefield is a smart person.  I just think that she allows her biases to come through.  A judge should be unbiased.]

Clayton County.  Never a dull month.  If the oligarchy doesn’t like the pointed questions from an elected official, no problem.  Just get the majority on the school board or city council to vote off the gadfly.  Then, get the homer judge to put her imprimatur on the illegality.  Ignore the Georgia Law!  It doesn’t apply to Clayton.  Clayton is the Wild, Wild West!  Ha!

Dr. Trotter, Who Do You Think Will Become DeKalb’s New Superintendent?


You asked the question.  Here is Dr. John Trotter’s response…

   I have felt all along that the DeKalb Board of Education would pick Arthur Culver.  Davis apparently saw the handwriting on the wall and withdrew her name.   I don’t think that Dr. Lillie Cox of Hickory, North Carolina was ever a serious thought.  I personally think that she was just thrown into the mix to diversify the pool of three finalists.  I have always thought that the board has known all along who it wants, but it is just going through motions to try to make people feel good about its selection.  I presume that the school board will makes its selection known this coming Monday evening.

     Arthur Culver will be like a souped-up Johnny Brown.  He will be a slasher not unlike J. Jerome Harris when he came to Atlanta from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn in the late 1980s.  Slashers tend to make everyone in the system live on pens and needles.  Slasher-type superintendents tend shake up things but accomplish very little in the long run.  Smoke and mirrors.  Revolving doors.  More fires and more hires (especially the cronies brought in) don’t necessarily equate with success but naive school board members actually convince themselves that something good is happening, but the only people who benefit are physicians treating stress-related illnesses and pharmacies selling drugs dealing with stress-induced conditions.

     I have seen them come and go…Jim Fox in Fulton; Jim Burns in Muscogee; J. Jerome Harris and Beverly Hall (almost gone) in Atlanta; Tom Tocco in Cobb; Johnny Brown in DeKalb; that lady whose name I forget in Decatur City; Joe Hairston and Barbara Pulliam in Clayton; that Broughton fellow in his short stay in Fayette; and that General in Cobb, just to name a few.

     It’s easy to be a slasher.  As an administrator (especially a superintendent!), you have positional authority and power over subordinates and their jobs and even careers.  It is so very easy to create an atmosphere wherein subordinates fear you.  This takes no skill at all.  As an administrator, I wasn’t interested in having the school staff fear me; I wanted, instead, to have the people to respect me.  Earning respect is much more of an arduous undertaking than establishing an atmosphere of fear.  I suspect, however, that Arthur Culver will take the easy, worn-out path of “fear and trembling.”  I think that he will be another one of those “turn and burn” superintendents.  (c) MACE, April 17, 2011.

Interview With Dr. John Trotter

The Georgia Citizen: Dr. Trotter, you have been known to be fairly prescient in forecasting elections. Any thoughts about the upcoming governor’s race in Georgia?

Dr. John Trotter: Well, I think that Roy Barnes will easily win the Democratic Primary and probably without a runoff. Thurbert Baker could benefit from a racial bloc of voting, but I don’t see much passion for him as of yet from the African American community. On the GOP side, I think that John Oxendine will make it to a runoff with Karen Handel. I definitely think that being the only female in the race will help Handel. Plus, she’s got a solid base of support, especially in North Fulton. Oxendine ought to garner a lot of support from his home base of Gwinnett where his father is a retired judge. The real question is this: Who benefit from the GOP vote from Cobb?

The Georgia Citizen: Do you suppose that some of the Cobb GOP vote will crossover in the primary to either vote for Roy Barnes or to vote against him?

Dr. John Trotter: This year Roy hasn’t stirred up much passion, and this is good for him. There’s a lot of apathy out there — probably because people are so concerned for the economy and own pocketbook issues. In 2002, Roy had everyone coming against him! The flaggers, the teachers, the cosmetologists, etc. I think that he has learned his lesson. He has the name I. D. hands down, and I think that this will be a race of name I. D. Certainly there are those in the business community in Cobb who might traditionally be Republicans but who will vote for their friend and fellow Cobb Countian. There may be a few Republicans who will want to switch over to vote against Roy in the Democratic Primary, but I don’t see this a any signicant movement. I really think Rob Barnes will win walking away, and the GOP will have its hands full in the Fall.

The Georgia Citizen: Who do you think wins in the Fall election?

Dr. John Trotter: If Oxendine wins the GOP Primary, I think that he will have a harder time beating Roy. Now Roy will have the national Democratic mantle working against him. This is an off-year election, and the party which holds the Presidency usually loses seats in Congress two years later, and there’s a lot of Georgians mad at the President now. But, will this impact severely on Roy Barnes’s chances of re-capturing the Big House on West Paces Ferry Road? I don’t think so. Now Handel will be a different story. There is definitely a thing called “women power” in politics. Some women who might otherwise vote Democratic may vote for the Republican Handel…just to see a woman in the Governor’s Mansion. But, when all is said and done, most Georgians will ask themselves: Who will help the Georgia economy the best…Roy Barnes or Karen Handel? Handel cannot be underestimated. I don’t think that she’s ever lost a race, has she? She doesn’t have the educational credentials that Roy Barnes has, but she does have some experience in politics. It’s not as though she has never held office or managed a department and so forth. But Roy’s personna alone exudes efficiency and effectiveness — so much so that this is one of his weaknesses too. Sometimes people resent someone who is very good at something. Roy is very good at governing, and some people simply resent this.

The Georgia Citizen: Sort of like how good you are (or perhaps I should say were) good at getting people elected in Clayton County?

Dr. John Trotter: Well I won’t go there. I have retired from actively helping people in politics. It sure does make you have a lot of enemies! Ha!

A Question For Dr. John Trotter: What Is Your Opinion Of Clayton County’s New Superintendent?

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What is there on which to comment?  The school board now has what it wanted…a man from California…just as Ericka Davis was insistent in 2005 on going all the way up to Minnesota to bring in Pulliam.  Dr. Sam King, Educator of the Year in Georgia (as chosen by fellow superintendents), a known quantity in Clayton County and currently doing a super job by all accounts as superintendent in Rockdale County, was available, but the school board, never known for its wisdom, chose to bring in a person, sight unseen, with two years of experience in the classroom.  Dr. Sam King is well-known for making discipline a top priority in a school system.  I remember him when he was an assistant principal at Oliver Elementary School, principal at Forest Park Middle School, and as he actually worked his way up to Assistant Superintendent before Rockdale County realized that he was a “steal” and offered him the supetintendency about five years ago.  He is known
throughout Georgia as truly one of the brightest and hardest-working superintendents around.  But, if the Clayton County School Board, chooses to go with Sergeant Edmund Heatley, then so be it.  We will see where the school system ends up under his leadership.  At MACE, we predicted that the school board would be sorry that it ever had hired Pulliam.  In fact, the night that the school board voted on her contract, MACE folk were picketing the school board.  One sign said:  “You’re gonna be sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry.”  Within three years, the same Ericka Davis was working diligently to get rid of Pulliam. 

   Both Dr. Sam King and Dr. Valya Lee would have been better superintendents for Clayton County than Sergeant Edmund Heatley.  But, Clayton County has, through the years, been a veritable graveyard for superintendents, and the school board probably did both of these good educators a favor by not selecting them.  I cannot remember a single superintendent who ever left the Clayton County School System simply because they wanted to retire.  I personally did not know Ed Edmonds, but I knew his nextdoor heighbors and his personal secretary.  I am told that the legislature changed the appointed/elected nature of the  superintendency, depending on Mr. Edmonds’s popularity at the time.  He preceded Mr. Stroud.  I have personally known and iteracted with the following Clayton County superintendents:  Earnest Stroud, Joe Lovin, Bob Livingston, Joe Hairston, Dan Colwell, Bill Chavis, Barbara Pulliam, Gloria Duncan, and Valya Lee.  Mr. Stroud “retired,” but I am
sure that he saw the handwriting on the wall, so to speak.

   I wish Dr. Heatley the best.  Right now, Clayton County is dead last in the cellar on SAT and CRCT scores.  The discipline has become atrocious through the years.  About Edmund Heatley:  I have never met the gentleman nor have I spoken to him on the phone.  This, I am sure, is what qaulified him the most in the eyes of some school board members.  (I was told by a sitting school board member in 2005 that the school board then was going “all over the country,” trying to find someone whom I did not know.)  Dr. Heatley, I will not call upon you — unless your administration violates the law (e.g., refuses to follow the grievance law, OCGA 20-2-289.5 et seq., the duty-free lunch law for elementary school teachers, OCGA 20-2-218, etc.).  I have bigger eggs to fry.

   Clayton County has become, as we say in the MACE Office, the “New Atlanta.”  Dr. Heatley, you are encountering the same issues that confronted the old Atlanta, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s.  I hope that you will be successful in your endeavors.  But, if you simply try to sweep the dsiciplinary problems under the proverbial rug, your stint in Clayton County will probably be somewhat truncated.  (c) MACE, September 1, 2009

What About the Atlanta Mayors Race? Kasim Or Mary?

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary will definitely be in a run-off for Mayor. The question is simply this: Which African American candidate will she face? Woodard (Woodward?) defeated Michael Bond in the run-off for President of the City Council a few years back, and then she threw it all away to run against Cynthia. She lost. The times are changing. Shirley had all of the developers’ money. All of the housing projects came down. Any connections? You decide. Besides, they had Clayton County where they could send the projects’ students. Clayton was such an easy set-up. It already had an easy villain. They could blame all of its ills on a white man, John Trotter. They will let it run itself into the ground with a “perfect” and “willing” leader in Eldrin Bell. Bell couldn’t even stay in Clayton County on his election night in 2004; he had to saunter up to Fulton to party on that night. You think that he is loyal to Clayton? Ha. Clayton is the perfect dumping ground. The property values need to be driven southward before the Big Boys come in and buy up this prime real estate. Only county in the USA with four Interstate Highways (I-85, I-75, I-285, and I-675) running through it. Most (about 80%) of the busiest airport in the world is located inside of this county, with the new international terminal soon to be built inside of this county.

Yes, the new mayor of Atlanta will have to amenable to the developers. Will this new mayor be Mary or Kasim? Borders is a bit player, with Tom Cousins and crew hedging the developers’ bets just like they did in the days of Maynard and Andy. Not all of the developers’ monies will be put in just one camgaign. They had rather deal with Kasim. He is a businessman, is sharp, but makes them a little uneasy. It will be easier to co-opt an African American woman like Lisa Borders. Mary (Quite Contrary) will actually be the most difficult one to deal with. She is the “true believer.” Kasim learned real politick at the feet of his father, June Reed. June (yes, this is his real name) played footsie with the GOP in the days of BUSH 41. Kasim was just a teenager back then, getting ready to make a name for himself at Howard.

Who do the developers put most of their money behind? Don’t worry. They will hedge their monies. Norward and Reed? Norwood and Borders? I think that Norwood makes the run-off. She presents a problem to the developers who care only about green. Not the environment. Atlanta has always been a green city. (c) The Georgia Citizen

Crawford Lewis: Should The Cheating, Bullying, Etc., Force Him Out?

Let us know how you feel!

Roy Eugene Barnes Can’t Get Rid Of The Fever!

Just like the man for whom he was named,

Eugene Talmadge, Roy Eugene Talmadge wants

to run again for governor of Georgia.  Once you

have lived on West Paces Ferry Road, the other

neighborhoods just pale in comparison.  Near

by you have the Roxy, Johnny’s Hideaway, the

ESPN Zone, Lenox and Phipps, Nava, Blue Point,

Fogo De Chao, and the W Hotel.   For a 61 year old and his

bride, this simply beats Marietta on the Square.

Roy ran in 1990, 1998, 2002, and now 2010.

Eugene ran five times, losing only once to Ellis

Arnall because Talmadge had wrangled with

the leadership at UGA and cost briefly the

University’s accreditation.  Should Roy stay

home or jump back in the ring?  Is Roy just a

political addict or does Georgia really need him

now?  Make it plain!

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