Runoffs for chair, commission

LAWRENCEVILLE - After a night of fluctuating numbers calibrating Gwinnett's political future, Tuesday's primary election ended with two Republican runoffs.

According to the unofficial results, which are expected to be certified Friday, incumbent Chairman Charles Bannister was unable to secure the Republican nomination with his 17,897 votes. He received 49.40 percent of the vote, with challenger Commissioner Lorraine Green bringing in 14,657 votes or 40.46 percent.

Glenn Pirkle, who came in third place with 3,674 votes or 10.14 percent, will be left off the Aug. 5 runoff ballot.

But Elections Supervisor Lynn Ledford said a recount is possible in the District 1 commission race.

Former Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter secured her place on the runoff ballot with 2,712 votes or 41.95 percent, but the second ballot slot was virtually a lock.

With Tuesday's results, Bruce LeVell, a member of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District board, has second place with 1,885 votes or 29.16 percent.

But former Suwanee Councilwoman Carol Hassell is only 17 votes behind, with 1,868 or 28.89 percent. Because less than 1 percent of the total separates the two, Hassell can request a recount within two days of the certification of the election, Ledford said.

"The margin is so tiny that it would be an appropriate thing to do to verify it," Hassell said, indicating she was leaning toward the recount option. "We'll see what happens as the process moves along. ... Seventeen votes is a very skinny margin."

The runoff will determine the District 1 commissioner as no Democrats qualified for the office, but the winner of the chairman's runoff will face Vincent Passariello in November.

Ledford said she was disappointed with the 15.08 percent turnout in Tuesday's primary election, but she said the two local races could make for a more interesting runoff turnout. County polls will also be open Aug. 5 for a statewide runoff for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate between Vernon Jones and Jim Martin.