Sometimes good things happen to those who wait and in a matter of two weeks, after the July 20th primary, it became official.
Even though it got to the point that an election challenge could have been submitted, the Reverend Robert Thomas came out victorious over Brantley County’s Emergency Management Director William Lartz, in the Aug. 10th runoff.
Thomas is a Democrat who becomes the city of Nahunta’s newest City Council member. The position on City Council is an ‘at-large’ seat.
Brantley County, as a whole, is one of Georgia’s most conservative counties -especially in recent years. The city of Nahunta is approximately 40 minutes west of Brunswick in southeast Georgia.
Southeastern Georgia has been a difficult area for Democrats, especially this past decade. President Obama only received 17% of the vote in Brantley County in 2008 and John Kerry didn’t fare much better with only a quarter of the vote.
However, there is a progressive streak in this county, even though it may be buried deep inside county politics. Maybe in this part of the world, politics is local and things may change in each election cycle.
Believe or not, President Bill Clinton won Brantley County in 1992 with 44% of the vote. One must consider the role that H. Ross Perot had played as a third party candidate. And Roy Barnes had won 59% of the Brantley County vote in 1998 with his landslide victory over millionaire Republican Guy Millner.
So despite strong conservative leanings, progressives can win in Brantley County and Reverend Robert Thomas has made it a reality.
Nahunta is a town of approximately 1,000 residents and nearly a quarter of the population is African-American.
Recently, the city of Nahunta received national headlines for hosting a Ku Klux Klan rally that drew several hundred people that included protestors back in February.
Thomas’ victory is noteworthy and he had received the most votes in the July 20th primary, but City Attorney Kelly Brooks took issue of Thomas’ July 20th victory and referenced the city charter in regard to choosing Nahunta’s City Council members.
Brooks interpreted that the Nahunta’s city charter wasn’t clear on how a candidate can win in a special election. So Brooks determined that Nahunta must use state law that says municipal special elections are decided by a majority vote.
Thus, a runoff was ordered.
Thomas, the African-American Democrat, received 69 votes, which was 43 percent of the total on July 20th. Lartz, the county’s emergency management director, collected 48 votes which turned out to be 30 percent, and third-place finisher Larry Herrin garnered 44 votes which is 27 percent.
There was definitely some tension about whether there was a need for a runoff and it spilled over into a Nahunta City Council meeting about a week after the July 20th primary.
However, in the end, Rev. Thomas prevailed.