Judges, sheriffs face early verdicts 

In case anyone's missed the sudden deluge of TV ads and bumper crop of yard signs, CL offers this reminder: There's a primary election next week. Go vote July 18 -- or forfeit all bitchin' rights about whoever you get stuck with come Election Day. In many cases, the lack of any competition in the November General Election means that the primary victors will assume office Jan. 1. Although the slate of candidates is too extensive for a detailed rundown here, there are several races that are of particular interest. Among them:

On the state ballot, two Public Service Commission members are facing challengers in the Democratic primary: Incumbent Commissioner David Burgess is opposed by longtime PSC member Mac Barber, who stepped down in 1998 to run for lieutenant governor. Two more Democrats -- businessman and e-publisher Jim Boyd and Realtor Michael DiPietro -- are vying to challenge Republican Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise in November.

The race for DeKalb County CEO is between four Democrats with no Republican candidates, so the county's top elected official will be decided next Tuesday (unless there's a runoff). The contest -- between former County Commissioners Ken Davis and Porter Sanford, state Rep. Vernon Jones and longtime TV news anchor Steen Miles -- is shaping up as a real horse race, despite Jones' healthy lead in fund-raising (and spending).

Also in DeKalb, first-term Sheriff Sidney Dorsey is facing three challengers: Former DeKalb Marshal's Department Deputy Gerard Armorer, who resigned that position to run for sheriff; veteran Sheriff's Department Capt. Derwin Brown; and longtime Atlanta Police homicide investigator Geraldine Champion, who now runs a security company.

Dorsey's administration has been the subject of scrutiny because of a few well-publicized incidents, including the arrest of two men carrying Sheriff's Reserve badges in the shooting death of another Reserve deputy and a dust-up with the County Commission resulting from Dorsey's two efforts to steer a medical service contract for the jail to a particular company.

Three of DeKalb's Superior Court judges are also being challenged: Judges Gail Flake, Linda Warren Hunter and Robert Mallis are all facing opposition in the non-partisan primary. Although judicial races are generally fairly staid affairs, supporters of Jeffrey Bashuk, who is running against Flake, have launched a campaign to remind voters that Flake's husband, former Braves pitcher and DeKalb Sheriff Pat Jarvis, was sent to prison for his part in a jail contract kickback scheme. Flake has never been linked to Jarvis' misdeeds.

In Fulton County, two Republicans are vying to face incumbent District Attorney Paul Howard. Longtime Fulton assistant district attorney John M. Turner, who ran unsuccessfully against Howard in 1996, is running against attorney Page Pate.

Also in Fulton, incumbent Sheriff Jackie Barrett is facing a primary opponent, Fulton County Deputy Charles Rambo, a well-known union official who has clashed with Barrett in the past over departmental policy. The nation's first black female sheriff, Barrett has struggled with an overcrowded jail and "reverse discrimination" lawsuits, but she has also earned high marks for efforts to modernize Fulton's long-neglected jail and filing systems. The winner faces Republican Aubrey Osteen in November.

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