Two powerful African American politicians are blazing trails in Georgia state politics.
The two distinguished technocrats are seeking the main opposition party’s ticket for the Nov. 3 general election into the Georgia State Senate to represent District 9.
Okoye and Merritt are chieftains of the party in the state and they are facing each other in the second round scheduled for August 11.
They both advanced to the runoff stage after defeating a third aspirant, Cheryle Moses, in the first round of the primary held on June 9.
The winner will face the incumbent, Sen. Peter Martin, a Republican, who has been representing the district since 2015 and is seeking a fourth term.
Okoye is currently a Planning Commissioner in Gwinnett County, the second-most populous local government in Georgia, and is the first black man to serve as a commissioner in the county’s 202-year history. The civil engineer and founder of Georgia-based construction firm, Essex Geoscience, also currently serves on the Executive Committee Board of the Gwinnett and state chapters of the Democratic Party.
Among other goals, Okoye is seeking to capture the District 9 seat from the Republican Party, which has held it for over 30 years, “with nothing to show for it”.
Nikki Merritt grew up in Austell GA and attended Pebblebrook High School, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State. She is a 16-year resident of Gwinnett County and currently reside in Grayson, GA with her husband, two teens and two dogs.
Merritt has spent 23 years in a service career in telecommunications where she proudly supported her local labor union, CWA 3204.
Her parents grew up during an era of racial segregation in the South and championed the efforts of the Civil rights era. They taught her to stay engaged in social justice and to push for what is just, fair, and right.
In her words “Now more than ever, we need state legislators who care about all Georgia families. We need inclusive leadership in Georgia to make sure all voices are given the respect and time they deserve. I am running for State Senate to ensure we live in a state that reflects our inclusive and diverse communities; “I will fight for our most vulnerable populations, ensure public safety, support women’s reproductive rights. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have a better quality of life. We can do it together, but we need strong leaders to make it happen”, Merritt continued.
“As your next State Senator I will be that leader”, she said.
As they rally for the party’s ticket for the election, Who would you vote for?