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Two runoffs ahead; incumbents win most races
by Everett Catts
November 05, 2013 09:54 PM | 6227 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Will Dickerson of Buckhead, right, receives a sticker from Election Clerk Jaynaco Perryman after voting at the Chastain Park gym in Buckhead.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Will Dickerson of Buckhead, right, receives a sticker from Election Clerk Jaynaco Perryman after voting at the Chastain Park gym in Buckhead.

With all the votes now counted, only two races in Tuesday's nonpartisan city elections are requiring runoffs as incumbents won most battles.

According to the Fulton County Elections website, the votes from all 38 Sandy Springs precincts and all 177 Atlanta polls have been tallied.

In Sandy Springs, Rusty Paul has won the mayoral race with 80.39 percent of the vote, defeating Bob Brown (18.63 percent). Incumbent Eva Galambos is not seeking re-election.

“It’s exciting," Paul said of the victory. "It’s an ongoing campaign. It started back in April when Eva announced she was not running for re-election. It’s been a grueling but rewarding eight months. Sandy Springs is a great community. I didn’t realize [my wife] Jan had a database keeping track of my meetings in a formal environment. I talked to more than 700 people I probably talked to 3,000 or 4,000 people over the last eight months, informally and formally. It’s great people. This community has a resiliency and a passion about it that is unbelievable. I raised more money than I originally planned. I didn’t make a phone call and people made contributions without me even asking. People have been so nice, so gracious, so excited. They love Eva.”

Paul said the keys to victory included Galambos endorsing him for mayor.

“Second, my long involvement with the city," said Paul, a former Sandy Springs councilman and state legislator. "People knew me and knew my record, both at the local level and the state level. A lot of people knew me personally. They knew what my skills and background were. It was overwhelming to get 81 percent of the vote. It just shows there’s a unity and sense of community in this city, that more than anything else.”

In the City Council races, a Dec. 3 runoff looms between Andy Bauman (40.29 percent) and John Stoj (29.12 percent) in the five-person District 6 election after they were the top two vote-getters. Rounding out the vote in that race were Patty Berkovitz (26.00 percent), Jennifer Steele (2.41 percent) and Sonja Tonpea (2.18 percent). Incumbent Karen Meinzen McEnerny is not seeking re-election.

Bauman, who was endorsed by Galambos and outgoing District 3 Councilman Chip Collins, said he was pleased to be in the runoff and thanked his backers.

“We were very concerned about the process in running a positive campaign," he said. "I just wrote an email to my supporters. In it I said, ‘This is a resounding affirmation of the positive, issues-based campaign that we ran and we are very grateful for all of the support that I received.’

“It’s fantastic that we’re in a runoff. I’m very satisfied we earned the most votes from what I believe was a very well-informed and engaged community. I believe these are very educated voters that participated in the process and it was very gratifying.”

“I think what resonated was a track record of accomplishment in both my professional life and in the community. The commitment that I’ve made to be independent minded and a consensus builder for getting things done in our city.

“There’s still four weeks to go and a lot to be done. I hope the citizens will remain engaged.”

In the District 2 race, Ken Dishman (62.46 percent) upset incumbent Dianne Fries (37.24 percent).

“The only thing I’m saying is I’m disappointed. I’m floored at how few people voted,” said Fries, who plans to spend more time playing golf after she leaves office. “I used to play several days a week, I’ve played only four times in the last eight years, so it’s time for a little me time. But I will stay involved in the city. I am staying put."

With 76.43 percent of the vote, Graham McDonald defeated Barbara Malone (23.36 percent) in District 3. Collins is not seeking re-election.

McDonald said it was “very exciting" to win the election.

"I’m honored to have the confidence of the district," he said, adding the key to victory was "very hard work and a wonderful team of dedicated supporters.”

McDonald said a lesson he learned from the election was “the value of getting to meet so many of our neighbors and getting to hear their thoughts firsthand.”

Malone said, “[I am] disappointed but I think there’s a lot of voters and general public out there more well informed than they were 10 weeks ago."

She added she learned from the election "there’s an awful lot of people out there who have no idea what’s going on in Sandy Springs. They have no idea about the government.

“I would like to thank everybody who turned out to vote. I hope that Sandy Springs has a good next four years.”

In District 4 incumbent Gabriel Sterling won with 65.27 percent over Tochie Blad, who had 34.73 percent.

“As always, it feels great [to win],” Sterling said. “I worked really hard going door to door talking to voters and I had a strong record to run on.”

When asked what he learned from the election, he said, “That is it very hard to get people to get out and vote. We only had 905 votes in my district. The mayor’s race was a foregone conclusion so we had most people who said, we’re not going to vote, and some people thought this race was a foregone conclusion. It was very surprising, but it also could mean most people are happy [with the officials in office].

“I’m disappointed we didn’t have more people show up to vote. I’m thankful for those who came out and did. I think we have to work hard for everybody to be engaged with the city. Their general satisfaction is if it’s going well, I don’t pay attention.”

Of the election, Blad said it "was a great way to have issues brought out and addressed with the more engaged voter group moving forward.”

She also thanked her backers but had hoped for a higher voter turnout.

"I appreciate the help of my volunteers and their support through this campaign," Blad said. "I found it to be a rewarding experience to hear everyone’s concerns and look at the issues in Sandy Springs.

“We’ve got a lot of involved, engaged voters. We just need more folks to go to the polls and cast their votes. I knocked on a ton of doors and made a lot of phone calls.”

“I just wish my opponent the best in the next four years and the new mayor, Rusty Paul, the best.”

In the District 5 race, incumbent Tibby DeJulio (74.45 percent) defeated Clayton Cole (24.88 percent).

“I feel like what we’ve done for the city over the last eight years has been of great value to the residents of the city, and they’re showing the support of the decisions I’ve made along with the rest of the council has made," DeJulio said. “The keys to victory with this election was to do what’s right for the city and for the citizens of Sandy Springs. If you have the ability to make the right decisions for all the residents of sandy springs, they will have confidence in your ability to carry on.

“If you do what’s in the best interests of the city and the best interest of the citizens, and run a fiscally responsible city, the voters will reward you. Of course we’re disappointed with the turnout. In my precinct, I believe there are about 16,000 [residents] in the district and we had less than a thousand people vote. Either people weren’t interested or they ... just felt that people [in office] did a good job for the city and thought we would continue to do a good job. I would like to see us to get a turnout of 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000.”

Cole said he was disappointed to lose but pleased with the election experience.

“Certainly I joined the race with the intention of trying to win," he said. "I'm disappointed on that level but I'm also proud of the people of our district that took the time to come out and vote because it was an important vote. We have a lot of projects and developments in our community that will affect the city of Sandy Springs over the next few years as the city moves forward.

“Our district only averaged 12 percent in voter turnout. Even the winners, including Tibby, would say they would want a higher turnout and see a higher interest in the government at the local level. I just look forward to seeing how the city grows over the next four years and everyone that was elected strives to keep Sandy Springs as a model for cities around it.”

District 1 Councilman John Paulson is running unopposed.

Brown, Dishman and Stoj did not return phone messages Tuesday night seeking comment.

In the Atlanta races, incumbent Mayor Kasim Reed dominated with 84.11 percent and is headed to a second term. Trailing were Al Bartell (5.35 percent), Glenn Wrightson (4.92 percent), Fraser Duke (4.44 percent) and write-in votes (1.19 percent). John Benson ran as a write-in candidate but the write-in votes are not categorized by name.

In the battle for Atlanta City Council president, incumbent Ceasar Mitchell won with 79.79 percent. Rachele Fruit had 19.67 percent.

In one of the closest elections of the day, Mary Norwood won the race for the Post 2 at-large council seat with 52.75 percent. Incumbent Aaron Watson had 47.13 percent. The position is citywide.

“I am absolutely delighted," Norwood said of the win. "The people of Atlanta have been so wonderful. We had people who came together from all over the city to support my coming back to City Hall to serve them. They were fabulous. It was truly a grassroots campaign: knocking on doors, talking with friends, sending contributions, making phone calls, displaying yard signs. We had over 2,500 yard signs out there.”

Norwood previously held the Post 2 at-large seat for two terms before giving up the position to run for mayor in 2009, when she lost to Reed in a runoff by 714 votes. She said this campaign was much different than the mayoral one.

“It was the most compressed campaign I’ve ever done because it was a little over nine weeks from start to finish," she said. "But what it did do was it was a surprise. There were no more than two of us in the race and there was not a runoff. I had hoped not to have that. We were two known entities. I had spent two terms on the council and [Watson] had spent one. I felt like people knew us and could make their choice. I think that was helpful but it was very, very fast.

"We used social media. We had great neighborhood support throughout the entire city, so that came together wonderfully. We did phone calls. Everybody gets robo-calls but our calls were neighbor-to-neighbor calls. We had poll watchers at all the early voting locations since Oct. 14.

Norwood said the lessons she learned from this election were, “One is I am just so delighted with the tremendous support throughout the city and the team we had with volunteers. It was different. The mayor’s race was very different because I was kept in a boiler room making fundraising calls because I had to raise so much money. I would have liked to have been out there more. In this campaign, it was so quick I was more involved and had to make decisions daily about the campaign. I think that served us well. Everyone in the campaign was local.”

Incumbents won the elections for council seats representing parts of Buckhead.

In the District 6 race, incumbent Alex Wan dominated with 76.24 percent, followed by Mike Boyle with 14.06 percent and Tracey Austin with 9.44 percent. Incumbent Howard Shook won the District 7 campaign with 72.06 percent, followed by Abid Haque (19.35 percent) and Bobby Montgomery (8.31 percent).

“It feels good to get out there and connect with voters in all parts of the district and listen to what people have to say and get a promising report card back,” Shook said, adding the key to victory was “having a track record” [as a candidate].

When asked about voter turnout, he said, “It was under 20 [percent] in [District] 7 and a little over 20 [percent] in [District] 8. It was very low. I expected the school board races to pump turnout above 20 percent but it never got there.”

In District 9 incumbent Felicia Moore won her fifth term on the council with 68.96 percent, followed by Ricardo Mosby (25.34 percent) and Duwan “Mooley” Robinson (5.63 percent).

“Considering I had three people in the race and, particularly, one of the people in the race was recruited by the mayor [Mosby], I am particularly happy that my constituents did not buy his trying to unseat me and overwhelmingly support me and showed they supported the services I provide to the community,” Moore said.

She said the key to victory was “my consistent responsiveness to the community being accessible to the community.

“People trust me and know I’m going to work hard on their behalf,” Moore said. “I was expecting about 3,000 votes. We got a few more than that. The council seats usually aren’t decided with a lot more votes ... particularly when you don’t have a highly contested race at the top of the ballot [the mayor’s race]. I’m just happy to be continuing to serving my constituents.”

District 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean ran unopposed.

In the Seat 8 at-large Atlanta Board of Education race, incumbent Reuben McDaniel, who had 36.74 percent of the vote, is in a runoff with Cynthia Briscoe Brown, who had 25.80 percent. Rounding out the five-person race were Mark Riley (18.15 percent), Tom Tidwell (15.13 percent) and Dave Walker (3.97 percent).

“I’m pleased with the most votes going in," McDaniel said of the runoff. "If my voters repeat the turnout in the runoff, we’ll be successful in the runoff. I look forward to, now that there are two candidates [left], having a clearer picture of what the candidates are like."

McDaniel also said he felt his leadership as board chairman during part his first term, despite some criticism from residents, helped sway voters.

“I think the people have shown even a crowded field with comparable name recognition, they see the work I’ve done and the leadership I have had over the last four years," he said. "It will be a new board with a lot of new people on it, but [voters] saw that I had served them well as the chairman and want me there moving forward.”

Brown said she was "pleased" and "not surprised" to advance to a runoff.

"This is … what we expected. I think the key to getting in the runoff was that our message resonates with the people who count: parents, teachers and those in our community who really care about our kids," she said. “I’ve learned that if I’m true to myself and I share my vision and my beliefs, and my passion honestly and openly, people respond.”

Of the runoff, Brown said, “I think that voters in Atlanta now have a very clear choice. That choice is between the past and the future, between cheating and integrity. And most of all, between politics and our kids. I’m ready to move forward to unify all those who believe in our children as we work together for the next month and over the next four years.”

When asked for details on what she meant by "cheating," Brown said, “I think it’s clear that Reuben took steps to cover up the CRCT cheating scandal and I think he has not operated honestly and as we would have our public officials operate.”

In the other local Atlanta school board race, incumbent District 4 member Nancy Meister won with 65.18 percent of the vote over Taryn Chilivis Bowman (34.70 percent). The district represents all Buckhead public schools.

In the votes to retain or release each of them, Atlanta Municipal Judges Elaine Carlisle, Crystal Gaines, Calvin Graves, Barbara Harris, Gary Jackson, Herman Sloan and Christopher Ward each received 81 percent or more votes to retain.

Return to the Neighbor later Wednesday for updates on the election, including quotes from candidates.

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