Pak wins in District 102; Dickerson bests Collins

LILBURN -- The final local state house primaries have been decided -- resulting in the victory of a former federal prosecutor and the fall of an incumbent.

Turnout stayed about the same for the District 102 Republican primary. Less than a third of District 95's July 20 primary turnout showed up for the runoff, with only one other statewide office on the ballot.

This is just the first step to the House seat for both victors who face opposition in the general election.

District 102

Attorney B.J. Pak won the Republican nomination for Clay Cox's old Lilburn seat -- taking a step toward becoming one of the first Asian-Americans elected to the legislature to represent Gwinnett County.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Pak led his opponent, businesswoman Linda Carsten, 2,910 votes (54.3 percent) to 2,447 votes (45.7 percent).

Pak, who did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday, was born in South Korea and came to America when he was 9 years old. He is a private attorney in Atlanta, previously serving as a federal prosecutor for northern Georgia. He emphasized a career of attacking and preventing corruption, pledging to restore faith in public officials and to limit himself to three terms if elected.

The campaign became aggressive at points. Carsten accused Pak of only living in the district for 23 months and opposing Arizona's recent immigration law popular among Georgia Republicans.

Pak will face Democrat Porter Deal in the Nov. 2 general election.

District 95

Toney Collins is the first local incumbent legislator to lose in the primary elections this year, falling to business owner Pam Dickerson in the runoff.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Dickerson led Collins 660 votes (53.6 percent) to 572 votes (46.4 votes).

Dickerson ran a campaign with a strong emphasis on education and empowering teachers. This was her first political run.

"We worked very hard to get where we are. It's been an exciting evening," Dickerson said. "(The reason I won) is my message about being available, accountable and accessible to the people."

Collins served two years in the Legislature. In his time, he wrote a bill to allow taxpayers to donate their tax refund to Lupus research that was vetoed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"I believe I finished pretty fast doing a lot of things and helping people get what they need from special income to health care and making sure that they will be heard," Collins said. "I think I had a pretty good run to be one of the first freshmen to really help people, healthwise."

Dickerson gained the endorsement of Andrea "Andre" Cooper, the third-place finisher in the July 20 primary. Dickerson said that having Cooper as a partner to reach out to the community was crucial to her success.

Dickerson will face Republican Rodney Upton in the Nov. 2 general election.