Atlanta/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 23, 2024
Clayton County Sheriff's Runoff Set, Incumbent Allen Faces Challenge from Commissioner TurnerSource: Unsplash/ Element5 Digital

The showdown for Clayton County's top cop has been set, with incumbent Sheriff Levon Allen slated to face off against Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Turner in a runoff election on June 18. The primary election saw Allen, with a hair under the majority at 49.52%, falling slightly short of the clear win, as reported by FOX 5 Atlanta. Turner, trailing with 24%, made the cut to keep his sheriff's badge hopes alive.

According to an 11Alive interview, Turner expressed his surprise at the close race that has ultimately tightened into a runoff. "Very surprised about the percentage of the difference that led to this runoff," Turner said. "Very surprised, but at the end of the day, as long as I'm in the race, I might be in there by the skin of my teeth, but I'm in there, and at the end of the day, we have to regroup."

On his part, incumbent Allen is focused on galvanizing voter turnout, a common pitfall in runoff elections. Historically, runoffs have low turnout, and Allen plans to pound the pavement to remind his constituents about when and where they can cast their ballot. In the same conversation with 11Alive, Allen stated, "I think the only thing that was the issue was about voters on when and the time to vote."

Both candidates have zeroed in on the management and issues of the Clayton County Jail as a central campaign issue. Turner claimed that "It's being mismanaged. There's people getting hurt and killed," and the budget is "over. There's $14 million over budget." Allen fired back, pointing out his challenger's spot on the Board of Commissioners was where he could have addressed these infrastructural deficits. "The building, itself, belongs to the Board of Commissioners. And when there's something broken and not working on is an enhancement, it's on the board of commissioners to do it," Allen told 11Alive. Turner pushed back, arguing that the board was left in the dark regarding the challenges faced by the jail, awaiting Allen’s reports which appeared to trickle in too slowly over the years.

In terms of their priorities, should they win the runoff, both candidates have highlighted different areas within the same issue: the county jail. Turner has set his goals on regaining control of the jail, officer training, and the budget. "We've got to make sure that we go in number one and regain control of the county jail...," Turner laid out his strategy in a statement obtained by 11Alive. On the flip side, Allen is aiming to improve jail security by making locks operational, addressing overcrowding, and bolstering personnel numbers. He succinctly listed the steps in the 11Alive interview, "First thing I want to get done is the locks...The second thing is to tackle the overcrowding...And then, thirdly, is to get the personnel up..."

While both candidates remain set in their pursuit for the sheriff's badge and improvement of the local law enforcement infrastructure, they agreed to continue working together irrespective of the runoff's outcome, ensuring the Clayton County's leadership remained cohesive and effective. With the clock ticking down to the decisive day, Clayton County citizens are poised to make their choice for the sheriff who promises to confront the issues head-on.