Georgia Coach Lines’ Clarence Cox is running for sheriff

When Clarence E. Cox III announced that he was running for sheriff of Clayton County, Georgia, he was deluged with messages from his bus industry friends who feared he was leaving the bus business.

Luckily he isn’t. Cox, president of Georgia Coach Lines, has used his family’s business to support law enforcement efforts to help those in need, especially after natural disasters ranging from hurricanes to tornadoes. But as someone who is a public servant at heart, Cox says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use his decades of law enforcement experience to help his community.

“I’ve had a lot of calls from people I respect saying you have to do this. You really have to be a sheriff and you have to clean this place up because it’s so corrupt,” Cox said.

If elected, he will oversee a county jail with 1,500 people and about 300 employees, including MPs and civilian employees.

Clarence Cox with his campaign bus.

Former sheriff faces jail time

After running for the same office in 2016, he thought he would not run again. In that race he lost to Victor Hill, who now faces years in prison after being convicted on federal civil rights charges. Hill, who dubbed himself “The Crime Fighter,” used Batman imagery to promote himself on social media and in campaign ads news reports. Hill’s sentencing was scheduled for February 28. He resigned shortly after his sentencing on October 26.

Among the multiple candidates Cox is facing is Hill’s godson Levon Allen, who has five years of experience and is supported by Hill, who is still popular with some in the county. Cox has worked in law enforcement for 38 years. His platform is “Experience Counts”.

It has not been an easy campaign in a county where voters are polarized. Cox’s signs are being torn down, and he faces voter fatigue in a state that has been the site of several high-profile elections, such as the governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Gov. Brian Kemp and the Senate race between Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“We’ve had some really tough races and people are just fed up with the elections at the moment,” said Cox.

This race is a special election because Hill had two years left in office. The election will take place on March 21 – the day after Cox’s birthday. Early voting starts on February 27th.

“So if I win, and if I win, we’re going to dance in the street because it’s going to be the best birthday party,” said Cox.

Long list of supporters

Cox has garnered support from prominent colleagues in law enforcement and beyond, including former Atlanta Mayors Andrew Young Jr. and Bill Campbell.

Before taking over the family-owned transportation business from his father and uncle in 2017, Cox had a distinguished career in law enforcement. From 2017 to 2018 he was President of the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Officers (NOBLE). Although he has focused on the bus business, his law enforcement colleagues have tapped him for consulting and investigative work.

GeorgiaClarence Cox stands in front of his campaign bus.

One of the perks in the bus business is that he can have an affordable campaign bus.

“Everyone’s talking about you needing to get out of here and be visible,” Cox said. “Herschel Walker, Raphael Warnock, Stacey Abrams and Governor Brian Kent all had buses, and they had these entertainer buses and they traveled around the state. So I rented one of my buses. I took one of the oldest buses and called Sandie Marquis from Budget Truck and Auto.”

He credits Marquis with the campaign bus wrap that “blew him out of the park,” Cox said, adding, “The bus was pretty popular. We drive all over the county. We have town meetings on the bus.”

backing from the bus industry

The bus industry has supported him and he has received several donations through his website at electclarencecox.com.

Among the early donors were Glenn Every, who serves on the United Motorcoach Association board with Cox, and Jeff Goldwasser, who hosted the weekly Buses & Beer call during the pandemic, which Clarence and his wife Wendy attended regularly. American Bus Association President and CEO Peter Pantuso also donated to the campaign.

“I have some really good friends who have donated. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from the industry,” said Cox.

In addition to being newly elected to the UMA Board of Directors, Cox is President of the Georgia Motorcoach Association and the first Chair of the African American Motorcoach Council. As of this writing, he has no plans to resign from any of the organizations.

“I’ll wrap up my tenure with all of that and then I’ll reevaluate, but I’ll give everything I have while I’m there. But I will not leave the industry.”

Cox is known for his work with the non-profit organization Caring for Others, which operates Convoy of Care. While busy with his campaign, he remained active with Caring for Others. Most recently, in January, he organized a relief convoy to help residents of two counties whose homes were damaged or destroyed by tornadoes.

“We brought several tractor-trailers there to help these people because a lot of people were displaced and lost everything they had,” Cox said.

The family keeps the business going

So how does Cox balance public service, a campaign, his roles in the bus industry, and the family bus business? He gets up early every morning with a long to-do list, sometimes leaving the house at 6:30 and not returning until 1:30

Wendy Cox oversees the daily operations of Georgia Coach Lines.

“Wendy was a trooper,” said Cox, who plans to show his gratitude to his wife with a special trip after the election.

His eldest daughter, Jessica, helps out in the business while she holds a full-time position at Southwest Airlines in customer service.

“When she’s not at Southwest, she’s working in our office, learning about the business,” Cox said. “My other two daughters plan to get into the business eventually, but I wanted my eldest to step in, get her feet wet and help Wendy. We are blessed right now that all of this is happening.”