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Pais clinches coroner's post
Takes office in January
Pais WEB

In Tuesday night’s other countywide contest, voters picked the primary’s leading vote-getter for coroner.

Mary Beth Pais defeated Hal Bennett in the Republican race, which determined the winner. No Democrats or independent candidates are seeking the seat in November.

Pais prevailed by a 58 percent to 42 percent split, drawing 7,485 votes to Bennett’s 5,510 votes.

Pais said she was “absolutely delighted” upon seeing the results.

“I’m so pleased that the citizens of Forsyth County saw it fit to elect me to this position,” she said. “I’m humbled and very grateful.”

She brings various experience to the office, which includes more than 30 years as a registered nurse, being on call as a deputy coroner in Alabama and being on the nursing faculty at Georgia State University.

Pais is also a trained medical-legal death investigator.

She credited her win to her group of supporters and campaign volunteers, as well as endorsements and support of local organizations.

Pais will assume the role in January, taking over for incumbent coroner Lauren McDonald, who did not seek a fourth term as coroner.

McDonald campaigned for sheriff, but didn’t advance to the runoff. His annual salary as coroner is $43,734.16, though Pais’ starting amount could not be immediately determined.

She said the two plan to work together for the remainder of the year on ensuring a “smooth transition.”

Bennett, a military veteran who retired from the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office, said he will continue to enjoy his retirement and stay active in the local Republican Party.

“My biggest regret in losing this race is I’m not going to be able to give the background and training that I received over the last 23 years to the citizens of Forsyth County,” he said.

Bennett was thankful for the support he received and the people he met along the campaign trail.

Both candidates received a higher percentage of votes in the runoff than the primary, in which the third candidate, Mark Musselwhite took 23 percent.

In that contest, Pais received 10,570 votes, or about 43 percent, while Bennett tallied 8,150 votes, or about 34 percent.