Democrats in Rockdale County overwhelming voted for the calm voice of reason during the primary election on Tuesday. Garnering 70 percent of the vote, Dr. Doreen Williams shut out challengers Josie Dean and Arlan Gibson to face Republican incumbent JaNice Van Ness in the general election in November.
"It feels really good. I'm really excited. I feel like we began this campaign two years ago and we built on our work this time," said Williams, who lost a bid in 2012 to represent the newly created House District 92.
With 19.87% voter turn out in Rockdale during the primary, 4,365 Democratic ballots were cast in the Board of Commissioners, Post 2 race, 3, 060 of which went for Williams. The seat, which has been held by Van Ness since 2007, serves the county at large and has been held by a Republican Commissioner for more than 25 years. Williams, who is currently on a leave of absence from chairing the Rockdale County Democratic Party, hopes to change that come the General Election.
“I was highly encouraged by the number of Democrats that came out for the primary,” said Williams. “It was the first time we had more Democrats cast votes than Republicans. But we still need to do more work for the November Election.”
Running on a platform focused on using common sense to find common ground for the common good, Williams ran a grassroots campaign that capitalized on the relationships she developed during the past 20 years she has called Rockdale home.
"I have worked in this community and have relationships with leaders in this county who know I will work and follow through," said Williams. "For this campaign, I knocked on more than 1,000 doors, friends helped me phone bank into more than 1,000 homes. We put in hours and hours of canvassing. That voter contact made the difference."
Armed with a list of issues facing communities across the state, Williams asked residents to identify their top concerns. From these face to face meetings, Williams said she came to understand the concerns of Rockdale county residents, which included job creation and economic development, public safety, transportation and a county commission that works effectively together.
"I think what resonated with voters was the fact that I met them, listened to them and was interested in what was important to them," said Williams. "That is going to be key going into the November Election and when I serve in that capacity (as county commissioner)."
Drawing from 30 years as an educator, Williams said her teaching experience and servant leadership style will bring both the intellectual and human skills that are needed to the board.
"Citizens want someone who will communicate with them, someone who they are comfortable communicating with, someone who will be accessible and available, and someone who will work really hard to make a fair decision," said Williams. "I will be that calm voice of reason and I will build trust with the community.