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Six Candidates Qualify to Run in Special Election for Two Athens House Seats


Democrat Deborah Gonzalez will go head to head with Republican Houston Gaines in the Nov. 7 House District 117 special election

Former state Rep. Doug McKillip will not try to reclaim the District 117 seat he lost to Regina Quick after switching parties in 2012—for now.

The qualifying period to run in the two Nov. 7 special elections for Athens-area state House seats ended Friday without McKillip signing up to run. But he held out the possibility that he’d run next year, when the seat will come up again in the usual election cycle. “Said I’d run in ’18, not ’17,” he said. “We’ll see.”

The seat opened up last month, when Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Quick as a Superior Court judge, replacing the retired David Sweat, requiring her to resign from the House. 

With McKillip out, the race will come down to Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, a media lawyer and former college administrator, and Republican Houston Gaines, a nonprofit consultant who was UGA’s student government president last year and ran Mayor Nancy Denson’s 2014 re-election campaign.

In District 119, where Chuck Williams resigned to take a post as director of the Georgia Forestry Commission, four candidates signed up to run. The Republicans are funeral director Lawton “Tom” Lord, homebuilder Marcus Wiedower and businessman Stephen Strickland. The Democrat is Jonathan Wallace, a software developer.