By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
South Hall ho-hum over runoff in December
Second round of House race for Mills seat draws little interest
Placeholder Image

Mazie Kilgore votes every time she gets the chance.

Her dedication to her civic duty is so strong, the former Flowery Branch councilwoman says she would even vote "for a cat" if it was on the ballot.

But Kilgore, a resident of Flowery Branch for more than 40 years, thinks she might be one of a few who shows up to vote in the Dec. 6 runoff between Bobby Banks and Emory Dunahoo Jr.

"People don't care anymore," Kilgore said.

The two men are seeking to represent South Hall next year in the state House of Representatives. The seat was left open midterm by James Mills, who was appointed to the state's board of Pardons and Paroles.

Banks and Dunahoo face an uphill battle raising awareness among voters in the district.

Some potential voters told The Times last week that they were not aware of the race.

A few, like Fred McLain, said they were more concerned with their jobs to pay attention to politics.

"I haven't heard anybody talk about it," said McLain, 56, an eight-year Flowery Branch resident, who said he did not have "too much" interest in the outcome of the upcoming election. "I don't know much about who's in it or what."

Others were more concerned with next year's Republican presidential contest than the state House race.

"I don't know either one of those (candidates)," said Jody Cordell, a 49-year-old Flowery Branch resident when asked about the race between Banks and Dunahoo. "I just don't keep up with (local races) as much, and the presidential race is probably why ... because I've been really watching that."

The lack of awareness comes as no surprise to University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

Runoff elections, Bullock said, seldom generate much interest. Especially during the holiday season, candidates have the challenge of gaining the attention of voters who have a lot on their plates, Bullock said.

Though Risa Kronendwetter considers herself fairly involved in politics, with the holidays approaching and an ailing husband to care for, politics was the last thing on her mind Wednesday as she shopped for turkey and a birthday card for her grandson.

When asked about the upcoming election, Kronendwetter was surprised to hear there was one.

"That's news to me," she said.

It's hard to tell exactly how many people do know about the race or will show up to the polls to have their say Dec. 6.

In two recent Georgia runoff elections for the U.S. Senate, about 50 percent of the original voters turned out the second time around, Bullock said.

On Nov. 8, about 14 percent of the eligible voters in District 25 made their way to the polls. If the Senate runoffs are any predictor, barely 2,500 people may show up again to choose between Banks and Dunahoo.

And those Senate races were higher profile contests than the upcoming runoff in District 25.

"This (District 25 runoff) is much, much less salient for voters than a U.S. Senate race , where millions of dollars are being spent to try and get you to the polls," Bullock said.

Voters in South Hall aren't going to show up to the polls next week unless they have a specific reason, like a favored candidate, Bullock said.

And most of the candidates who showed up in the special election Nov. 8 supported neither Dunahoo nor Banks. On Nov. 8, Dunahoo took 21.3 percent of the vote and Banks 19.7 percent in a field of seven candidates.

In that election, there also were city races and a Sunday alcohol sales referendum to lure voters.

"Sixty percent of the people who participated in that first round voted for somebody that's been eliminated," Bullock said. "A lot of them probably aren't going to come back."

Dunahoo said some of the folks he talks to think he already won the seat, if they know about the election at all.

Banks also said no one on his radar is talking about the race at all.

The lack of interest makes the outcome hard to predict.

"I don't know what to think," Banks said.