March 11, 2020

Qualifying Ends With Contested Races for Commission, School Board

City Dope

Mokah (left) and Knowa (right) Johnson at the 2016 Athens Hip Hop Awards.

Four years ago, Kamau Hull ran to represent District 8 on the Clarke County School Board. He lost to John Knox, who is not running for re-election.

Next year a Hull will sit on the school board—but it won’t be Kamau. It will be his wife and law partner, Nicole Hull, who is running for the seat unopposed. Meanwhile, Kamau Hull is one of three candidates seeking to represent District 8 on the Athens-Clarke County Commission.

The Hulls aren’t the only local power couple running for office. For months, Mokah Jasmine Johnson has been running for the House District 117 seat against Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens). She was joined last week by her husband, Knowa, who is challenging Commissioner Mike Hamby in District 10. The Johnsons formed the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement not long after moving to Athens from Orlando eight years ago. Knowa generally took a more behind-the-scenes role while Mokah was the organization’s public face, but now he’s stepping into the spotlight.

The qualifying period to run for local, state and federal office in Georgia ended Mar. 6. Here’s a look at who’s running for what.

ACC Commission: Incumbent Mariah Parker is unopposed in District 2—a bit surprising, since she won by just 13 votes in a 2018 special election. Recent UGA graduate Michael Stapor is challenging incumbent Allison Wright in District 4. Progressive activist Jesse Houle is running against incumbent Jerry NeSmith in District 6. Retired educator and biking advocate Carol Myers and couples therapist Andrea Farnham join Hull in District 8, where Commissioner Andy Herod is stepping down.

School Board: Three of the four incumbents whose seats are up this year—Antwon Stephens, Charles Worthy and Knox—are not running again. Stephens, who was appointed to fill the vacant District 2 seat in January, announced last week that he won’t seek a full term, and endorsed Kirrena Gallagher. Mary Bagby, who also sought the appointment, is running as well. Mumbi Anderson is the lone candidate for Worthy’s seat in District 6. Patricia Yager is unopposed for a full term in District 4.

Sheriff: Incumbent Ira Edwards faces ACC police detective John Q. Williams in the Democratic primary, and the winner will take on Republican retired sheriff’s deputy Robert Hale in November.

Legislature: Law student Zachary Perry is challenging Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens). Democrat Dawn Johnson will once again take on Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville). Democrat Jonathan Wallace has a rematch with Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville). Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) is unopposed.

Congress: Nine Republicans and three Democrats are vying to replace Rep. Doug Collins, who’s running for Senate, in the deep-red Ninth Congressional District. That includes one familiar name—former Athens congressman Paul Broun. Other contenders include state Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) and state Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville). In the 10th District—including most of Athens—Republican incumbent Jody Hice will face either Tabitha Johnson-Green (who won the Democratic primary in 2018) or screenwriter Andrew Ferguson.

Other Unopposed Candidates: Superior Court judges Lawton Stephens and Patrick Haggard, Clerk of Superior Court Beverly Logan, Coroner Sonny Wilson, State Court judges Charles Auslander and Ethelyn Simpson, and Chief Magistrate Judge Patricia Barron. Probate Court Judge Susan Tate’s staff attorney, Susan Schaffer, will succeed Tate.