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Porter endorses Bannister; Beaudreau says fight fair

Chairman Charles Bannister has Gwinnett's top attorney in his corner, countering challenger Lorraine Green's endorsement by the sheriff.

And Commissioner Mike Beaudreau is calling for the two to fight fair in the upcoming GOP runoff for county chairman, threatening to take sides if the fight gets ugly.

District Attorney Danny Porter, a popular, long-serving Republican, endorsed Bannister a week ago, just days before Bannister and Green squared off in the primary.

With third-place candidate Glenn Pirkle pulling in 10 percent of the vote, the two will once again face each other during the Aug. 5 runoff.

In a statement, Porter said he was concerned about Green's close ties to Sheriff Butch Conway because he believes the county needs a police department answering to the Board of Commissioners for day-to-day crime prevention.

"One need only look to Clayton or Fulton County to see the folly of placing law enforcement responsibility in the hands of one person," Porter wrote in the statement. "Butch Conway is a fine man and a fine sheriff, but even here in Gwinnett we have not always been so blessed. Even the possibility that the county police would be deprived of resources so that our law enforcement efforts would be diluted should be of great concern to any law-abiding citizen."

Porter continued by saying Bannister has been an asset to the county's law enforcement, initiating a unique program where a prosecutor has been assigned to a federal drug task force and encouraging cooperation between local and federal drug enforcement agencies.

"Bannister has demonstrated his commitment to public safety during his first term," Porter wrote. "He has added officers to the Gwinnett County Police Department in order to meet national standards of accepted and recommended police manpower. To combat gangs which are primarily made up of illegal aliens, he has increased the gang unit to 30 police officers to more effectively protect our families. Bannister has been a leader in the fight against drug traffickers that are infiltrating our neighborhoods. He has provided the manpower to increase the size of the Gwinnett County Drug Task Force resulting in record arrests and record seizures of drug dealer assets. ... Every city in Gwinnett has benefited from Bannister's efforts in the battle against illegal drugs."

Clean campaign

Beaudreau, who handily won the GOP primary for his commission seat last week, called for the pair to play nice after a campaign season full of negative ads and back-biting.

"Many of the voters I spoke with prior to the election told me they couldn't figure out where the two candidates stood on the important issues that the county will face in the future," Beaudreau said in a press release. "They were particularly dismayed by the false statements issued by Chairman Bannister, including his claims about Green's pay raise and voting record on high density development."

Beaudreau said he'd rather the candidates address issues such as taxes, illegal immigration, redevelopment and transportation so voters can decide who to support in the runoff.

"I have intended to stay out of the chairman's race," Beaudreau said. "However, we've seen a lot of negative campaigning and dirty tricks in the primary. If both candidates agree to this pledge and keep their word, I'll stay out and endorse no one. If one candidate breaks this pledge, I will endorse the other candidate. Further, if one candidate agrees and the other refuses, I will endorse the one that agrees and work to bring a few thousand Gwinnett residents with me."

Green was quick to say she would comply.

"The last few weeks of this past campaign were filled with vicious rumors and outright lies, so I appreciate the chance to get back to the issues most important to the voters of Gwinnett County," she said in an e-mail. "They deserve answers. They deserve to hear the vision the elected leader of our county will provide, not a bunch of campaign rhetoric."

Bannister did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday evening.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.