(SAVANNAH) It is the end of the line in the race to fill the unexpired term of the late Bob Bryant, the 162nd District State representative who died in late February. Reverend Carl Gilliard wins big when the votes from the 19 precincts in the district were tabulated. Gilliard captured nearly 74 percent of the vote. Gilliard, the Founder of Feed the Hungry, Inc. and Pastor of the Family Life Center in Garden City, defeated Alicia Blakely, a community activist and Longshorewoman. Gilliard says he knows winning the run off now means there’s big shoes to fill. “We have seen that there’s some big shoes in reference to Bob Bryant. I will be able to walk in shoes…and be able to run this race for the district and I think, I know that I won’t let them down.” said Gilliard.
The celebration of the victory turned the front of USA Foods on Augusta Avenue into a block party, complete with hot food on the grill. There were well over 100 people crowded into the parking lot to help Gilliard celebrate the win. He talked about one of the biggest challenges that he sees in his district. “”Well, the biggest issue thing is we look at education. A lot of times we’re asking for jobs, but we’ll never be able to receive those jobs without soft skills.” Gilliard said, adding that those skills will be attainable with better education.
Gilliard’s win in the run off is not discouraging his opponent. Alicia Blakely says she is turning her attention to the full term of the office, which begins with the primary in May. “The campaign still goes forward on May 24th, we still have to do another election for the permanent seat for the next two years.” said Blakely. Gilliard says he’s also campaigning for the next full term of the office he won in the run-off, adding even though this win will not give him the chance to vote on laws in the statehouse in Atlanta this year, he doesn’t plan to sit idle in the 162nd district. “Well, you know, one of the things I campaigned about is a legislative council that I was gonna create, the 162nd Legislative council. That council will be comprised of twelve people in the district that will be my eyes and ears so that we can get some things going in the district.” said Gilliard. The General Primary Election is set for May 24, 2016.