When it comes to politics in Brookhaven and who should be the state’s House District 80 representative, the city’s former mayors are split – although they are united on wanting a Republican back in that seat.

Former Brookhaven mayor Rebecca Chase Williams

Rebecca Chase Williams is backing Meagan Hanson, an attorney, and J. Max Davis is throwing his support behind neighborhood activist Alan Cole. Hanson and Cole face each other in the Republican runoff on July 26. The two were the top vote-getters in the May 24 primary with attorney Catherine Bernard finishing third.

As for current Mayor John Ernst, he is so far undeclared. A friend of House District 80 incumbent Taylor Bennett, a Democrat who won a special election last year, Ernst said he and the city will work with whomever wins the office in November.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.

“I’m non-partisan. We’ve worked well with Taylor and will work well with them too,” Ernst said. He declined to say if he was going to endorse or publicly back anyone in the race.

House District 80 includes parts of Brookhaven, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.

Williams sent out an email a day before the May 24 primary urging friends to vote for Hanson. “I know Meagan, who has been a frequent contributor to ‘The Georgia Gang’ with my husband Dick.  I’ve talked to Meagan about the issues and the need to win this seat back to Republicans. I think she is in the strongest position to do this …” the email stated.

In an interview, Williams said Hanson is a “very bright attorney” whose past involvement in Republican politics earned her support.

“She’s been around the legislature quite a bit and knows how it works,” Williams said. “She’s the right age with the conservative [values] that I’m attracted to and that can best represent the district.”

Former Brookhaven mayor J. Max Davis

Davis said he backed Hanson in the primary but is backing Cole in the runoff. He was with Cole at his May 24 election watch party at an Italian restaurant, but said that was unplanned and that he had just stopped in for dinner that night.

“I think he’s got more experience,” Davis said. “Meagan called me early on and I supported her before the runoff.”

He said he’s supporting Cole now because “it’s a different election now.”

But, he added, he will be glad to support whoever wins July 26 in the November general election against Bennett.

Davis said he is also supporting Cole in the runoff because he learned Hanson did not support him when he was seeking the District 80 seat as a Republican last year.

“She didn’t vote for me in the HD 80 race – she didn’t vote at all,” Davis said. “That’s the main reason. It was somewhat of a shock when I learned that.”

Meagan Hanson

In Fulton County, Hanson garnered 227 votes for 43 percent of the vote. Cole finished second with 165 votes, or nearly 32 percent of the vote, according to the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections.

In DeKalb County, Cole won with 681 votes or nearly 38 percent of the vote. Attorney Catherine Bernard finished behind Cole with 571 votes, or nearly 32 percent. Cole finished third with 558 votes, or just under 31 percent, according to the DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections.

Total vote totals showed Cole as the top vote-getter with 846 votes, or 36 percent, and Hanson with 785 votes, or 33.6 percent, according to the Secretary of State Office.

Alan Cole

Voter turnout will be key going into the July 26 runoff. Turnout for the May 24 primary in Fulton County was poor with only 71,004 votes cast, or 13.75 percent of the county’s 516,508 registered voters turning out, according to Fulton voting records. In DeKalb County that number was just as dismal with 18.61 percent, or 70,500 voters, of the county’s 378,798 registered voters going to the polls, according to DeKalb’s voting numbers.

Williams noted that getting people to the polls in a runoff is even more difficult. “It all depends on who gets voters to turn out,” she said.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.