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Cobb County Commission to be majority Democrat, women of color

By Meris Lutz, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

The blue wave has finally come for Cobb county local government, with Democrats poised to win a majority on the Board of Commissioners, which will be governed by all women, more than half of whom are Black. 

Jerica Richardson, a 31-year-old Georgia Tech grad who works for Equifax, won the East Cobb District 2 commission race by just over a thousand votes, and party officials were confident her lead would hold with only a few provisional, military and overseas ballots left to tally. 

“What’s really incredible is the different experiences and backgrounds that will be represented on the board,” said Richardson. “It’s how we can chart a path forward as a county.”

Richardson will join fellow Democrats Lisa Cupid, who was elected commission chair, and Monique Sheffield, who ran unopposed to represent South Cobb on the board. Republicans JoAnn Birrell and Keli Gambrill fill the other two seats on what is soon to be an all-woman commission. 

Jacquelyn Bettadapur, who leads the Democratic party in Cobb, heralded the county’s “young, diverse, forward thinking leadership that will develop collaborative, inclusive solutions to the challenges we face rather than be mired down in old, worn out, divisive narratives that prevented us from moving forward.”

Richardson’s Republican opponent, Fitz Johnson, conceded his loss.

“She ran a good clean race and I’m sure she’ll do a great job,” said Johnson. “We have to work together to move Cobb forward and I’m going to continue to do my part.”

Jason Shepherd, the Cobb GOP chair, said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

“We looked at the numbers and knew it was going to be a very difficult post to hold,” he said. 

Shepherd attributed Johnson’s narrow loss to shifting demographics in the Smyrna area, a close suburb of Atlanta which has increasingly attracted a diverse, educated population in recent years. 

Cobb has become increasingly competitive for Democrats at the top of the ticket, but until recently Republicans dominated local politics. Richardson will replace Commissioner Bob Ott, a Republican who decided against running for reelection this year.