Interim Sheriff Levon Allen eked out a win in his first election to public office Tuesday night, beating former NOBLE president and Clayton County Police chief Clarence Cox in the runoff for former sheriff Victor Hill’s unfinished term.
With 100% of precincts reporting, unofficial results show Allen got 7,716 votes to Cox’s 7,450.
Official results will be certified Friday. Only 13 provisional ballots were cast.
In this race, 182,085 Clayton County residents were eligible to cast their vote. Only 15,175 voters bothered.
That’s an 8.33 percent turnout—meaning 91.63% of registered voters did not vote in the runoff.
The 7,716 Allen voters represent 4.2% of all registered voters in Clayton County.
Gabriel Sterling, who is chief operating officer for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, and who famously stood up to Donald Trump’s “big lie” about the 2020 Presidential election being rigged, tweeted, “Congratulations to Clayton County Sheriff-elect Levon Allen…winning in a nail biter by less than 300 votes out of over 15,000 cast. Every vote really does count. #gapol.”
Franklin visits The Bunker
As the votes were being tallied Tuesday night, with only a couple of reporters keeping tabs on The Bunker, District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin came in with a CCSO escort, then called Elections Director Shauna Dozier into the hall just past the observation area. They chatted about non-election-related matters. Franklin asked how the votes were counted and Dozier explained the process of bringing the computer chips in under police and elections official escort, breaking the seal, removing the chips, accounting for each precinct, then uploading them to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to be counted.
Franklin, a close associate of Hill’s, is due before the State Ethics Board in June for a preliminary hearing on alleged campaign finance violations.
After the results came in, The Clayton Crescent asked Franklin what she thought of the results. Franklin did not comment and prompted the deputy with her not to speak by patting him on the back.
Usually, political campaigns let the news media know where their watch parties will take place. The day before the election, Hill—who had for all intents and purposes served as Allen’s campaign manager—blocked The Clayton Crescent on social media, then blocked individuals who had been critical of Allen. While The Clayton Crescent does not endorse candidates, ongoing coverage of issues at the jail and with Allen’s spending during his first few months in office, as well as Allen’s continuation of Hill’s “no media” policy, kept us from covering who was at the Allen party.
Hill, who has been ordered to report to federal prison in Arkansas on May 15 to serve time for abusing pretrial detainees in the Clayton County Jail, tweeted a photo of himself and Allen:
The Clayton Crescent did go to Nouveau in Jonesboro, where the Cox campaign was packing up a couple of hours after the results had come in. Cox, who was clearly disappointed, said it was too soon to tell whether he would seek a rematch in 2024. That’s when candidates will run for the first full term since Hill’s suspension.
Cox said the campaign had been hard on his family and that he had not yet decided to run again. I’m going to pray and just let God lead me in the right directions. I want what’s best for the county
“I’m not sure. I have to talk to family and friends,” Cox said. “Tonight, everybody’s trying to encourage me to, but I don’t move like that. I’m gonna pray and let God more me in the right direction. I want what’s best for the county, but I’m not sure the county wants what’s best for itself.”
Cox said he was disappointed in the low turnout.
“To me, this was a crucial race for our county. And with all the things that are going on in a negative way, I just felt like people should have come out and stepped up,” he said. “I understand on one hand because there were so many negative things out there and thrown against me and the folks associated with me….I always try my best not to go dirty, and we could have. I’ve got all kinds of information that I could have probably uses, but I was determined to try. tojust let it be about the people and keep my integrity. And even that was questioned.
“You know, it’s sad because I know there’s going to be a lot of broken relationships with people who supported me and the other side didn’t like it. That’s the part that bothered me the most. This doesn’t hurt me as much as it hurts a lot of folks that are engaged and involved in my campaign, because a lot of people stuck their necks out to support me, and you know, the repercussions from that could be great. I’m concerned with that. Really concerned.”
“After I gave my concession speech, many of my supporters were like, ‘This is not over.’ You know, 18 months, we’re going to be cranking this up, doing this again.”
Allen supporters, who had been vocal on social media during the campaign were, by and large, quiet. Cox supporters were irate.
Sukari Johnson, immediate past chair and advisor to the Democratic Party of Clayton County, made it clear that Allen would have a hard time getting on the ballot in 2024.
“Maybe now that Allen won Sheriff the Democratic Party of Clayton County, Georgia will see him be an active member or even be present, in the community,” Johnson wrote on Facebook. “Since you stated in an AD thatCox was supported by the Republican Party, but you clearly haven’t been or plan to support volunteers in our communities. We will see. Qualifying is next year through us, we will see.
“I will not support ANY elected official who feel like they don’t have to be present at any community organization in a DEMOCRATIC county, like they have arrived. That goes for ANY elected official.
“That is all. Carry on.”
Local political parties must sign off on candidates who want to qualify to run for office.
On Facebook, Cox expressed thanks to his supporters.
“Although the election did not turn out in our favor, I remain grateful for our supporters’ dedication and hard work,” Cox wrote. “To those who donated their hard-earned money, knocked on doors, and made phone calls on our behalf, I cannot express enough how much your support meant to me and my team.
“Your unwavering commitment to this campaign is a testament to the power of community engagement, and I am proud to have had your support. Our fight for a better Clayton County continues, and with supporters like you behind us, I am confident that positive change is possible.”
MORE TO COME