Early voting in critical election begins Tuesday

An important election is yet to be determined, but voters can begin casting ballots Tuesday, July 5, to make their voices heard.
Ryan Cleveland and Heather Lanier, candidates for Superior Court judge of the South Georgia circuit, are set to face off in the July 26 run-off.
The duo are seeking to replace Chief Judge A. Wallace Cato, who is retiring.
Cleveland and Lanier were the top votegetters in the May 24 election knocking out South Georgia circuit Chief District Attorney Mike Bankston.
Cleveland garnered 4,094 votes to Lanier who came in second with 4,061. Bankston was a distant third with 3,601.
Grady County favored Cleveland with 770 votes and Bankston coming in with 507 and Lanier with 501.
Early voting, which will open at 8 a.m. next Tuesday, will be held daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m at the Board of Registrars office located at 24 Third Ave. N.E., behind the courthouse. There will not be a day of Saturday voting in this run-off election and the last day to cast an early ballot will be Friday, July 22 at 5 p.m.
Ryan Cleveland is the owner of The Cleveland Law Firm, P.C., in Bainbridge and has argued cases in federal, state and superior courts in various circuits and counties. Currently, he serves as the Decatur County Solicitor General and Bainbridge City Solicitor.
Cleveland served as an assistant district attorney under District Attorney Joe Mulholland, whom he challenged unsuccessfully in 2008.
The judicial candidate is a 2005 graduate of Mercer Law School where he served as president of the Federalist Society. Cleveland graduated from Brigham Young University in 1997 and received a master’s degree in public administration in 1999.
During his tenure with the D.A.’s office, Cleveland served as drug prosecutor, responsible for coordinating and training local law enforcement in an effort to combat the methamphetamine epidemic.
He and his wife, Janell, have been married for 16 years and have three children.
Heather Hendricks Lanier, a lifelong resident of Baker County, is currently the deputy chief assistant district attorney for the Dougherty County Judicial Circuit in Albany.
Lanier has worked as an attorney since 2004, and also previously served as a senior assistant district attorney in the South Georgia Judicial Circuit.
In addition to her prosecutorial positions, Lanier has worked as an intern in the private law firm of Powell and Waters in Camilla and worked in the Clerk’s Office in Baker County.
In recognition of her professional achievement and public service, she has been named as one of Southwest Georgia’s 40-under-40 and has received numerous prosecutorial awards.
Lanier earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia and received an academic scholarship to attend law school at Mercer University. She has prosecuted numerous types of cases from capital murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault to rape and organized crime. Lanier is certified to practice in federal courts where she prosecuted local criminal cases under the Project Safe Neighborhood initiative. Recently, she argued before the Georgia Supreme Court.
Heather and her husband, Michael Lanier, a local businessman and lifelong Baker County resident, reside in Baker County with their three daughters, ages nine, six and two. They attend Newton Baptist Church and Lakeside Baptist Church in Newton.

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