Mary Beth Pais and Harold Bennett are heading into a runoff election Aug. 21 to become Forsyth County’s next coroner.
Pais drew 10,570 votes, or about 43 percent of the total, while Bennett tallied 8,150 votes, or about 34 percent.
The third Republican candidate, Mark Musselwhite, managed 23 percent, or 5,688 votes.
No Democrat is running for the post in November. The current coroner, Lauren McDonald III, did not seek a fourth four-year term, instead mounting an unsuccessful bid for sheriff.
Among the duties of the coroner’s office is to determine cause, manner and circumstance of death under the Georgia Death Investigation Act.
Pais, a registered nurse who is on the faculty of Georgia State University’s nursing school, said she “looks forward to the opportunity” of the runoff.
“I’m very grateful for the citizens of Forsyth County and I’m certainly very humbled by the number of votes I received,” she said. “Hopefully on Aug. 21, I will be successful.”
Both she and Bennett said they will work to show residents they are the most qualified for the position.
“I will try to get out in the next few weeks so that our citizens will see that I will be the best coroner for Forsyth County,” Pais said.
Bennett, a military veteran who retired from the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office, was also planning for the next three weeks.
“I still hope there’s interest in this race because I still think I’m better qualified for the position,” he said.
Musselwhite, who works at McDonald’s funeral home, said he “felt good” about his campaign.
“I had a lot of support to have only been campaigning for two months and I’m humbled by the amount of support and really pleased with the people that did help support me and came out and voted,” he said.
“And I want to congratulate Mrs. Pais and Mr. Bennett for running a pretty clean campaign and I hope as many people come out and vote again in August.”