Democrat Robert Patrick appears to have pulled off an upset in the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners District 1 race, unseating Republican incumbent Nancy Jester.

“Unbelievable,” said Patrick, a former Doraville City Council member, in a phone interview. “You start something out 10 months ago and it comes to fruition. It’s a really nice feeling.”

Robert Patrick.

Jester, a Dunwoody resident, conceded well before noon Nov. 4, posting a farewell message on her campaign’s Facebook page that gave the nod to her Democratic challenger.

“It has been an honor to serve DeKalb District 1 on the BOC,” Jester wrote. “I am forever thankful to have been of service to the good people of DeKalb County. For everything under Heaven, there is a season. As I transition to new opportunities, I want to assure the people of District 1 there will be a positive and professional transition with your interests in the forefront of my efforts. Thank you again and I am #forDeKalb.”

The seat represents Dunwoody and parts of Brookhaven, among other areas.

According to the unofficial results posted on the county’s Voter Registration and Elections website as of the morning of Nov. 4, Patrick had surged to a commanding lead, with 37,393 ballots cast in his favor. That amounted to 57.2% of the votes counted so far, easily outpacing Jester’s 27,957, or 42.8%.

The votes continued to be counted, but Patrick’s lead appeared to be an insurmountable hill for the incumbent, who was the lone remaining Republican on the DeKalb County commission.

Jester, a former DeKalb County school board member, won the commission seat in 2014. A former actuarial consultant, she championed her experience in helping the commission with financial reporting and accountability. Her campaign also focused on updating DeKalb’s aging infrastructure.

Nancy Jester.

But Patrick had support from the local Democratic party. He served eight years on the Doraville City Council, including a three-year stint as mayor pro tem, but resigned from his post to run for the commission seat.

He campaigned on a platform of economic development with priorities included cutting red tape for small business owners, increasing sidewalks and bike trails throughout DeKalb and sound budgeting.

“What a tour de force,” Patrick wrote in a Nov. 4 statement emailed to supporters. “… I want to thank everyone who voted, volunteered, donated and supported our campaign over the last eight months. I am committed to bringing our district together to build a brighter future for all of us. I want to thank commissioner Nancy Jester for her years of service to DeKalb County and look forward to working with her as we begin the transition process.”

Matt Bruce

Matt Bruce is a writer based in metro Atlanta.