The first thing to be said about Election Day is that if you didn’t vote, don’t complain.
“Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote,” said George Jean Nathan, the American drama critic and editor.
Most people didn’t vote on Tuesday, which is puzzling given how every vote counts. There’s no better example than the race of Marlin Lamar and Ikaika Anderson, who deadlocked at a 76-76 tie and will go to a runoff on Dec. 5 for the Ward 1 Austell City Council seat. One more vote — perhaps your vote if you live in the ward — would have decided the race.
Regardless of the winner, it means Republicans, who until now had a majority of four of the six senate seats in Cobb County’s Legislative Delegation, have now lost their majority. In addition, the transformation from red to blue causes the loss of the GOP’s super-majority in the Senate.
Various theories abound as to why a Republican didn’t make it into that runoff.
Surprise, Cobb Democratic Party Chairman Michael Owens said it was because the Democrats had two strong candidates while Cobb GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd maintains his party ran too many good candidates. Good or bad candidacies aside, voters who picked a Republican candidate (12,166) had five choices while only three candidates split the Democratic vote (11,818). Considering the party vote, the GOP won by 348. Yet no Republican finished in the top two.
In the county seat of Marietta, three of the seven council seats will change in January. Replacing Councilman Philip Goldstein, who chose to retire after holding office since 1980, is his son, Joseph, who leapt into the seat unchallenged. Joining him is Reggie Copeland, who ousted Ward 5 Councilman Ruben Sands. A good-humored man said to get along with just about anybody, politicos believe Sands was simply out-campaigned by Copeland.
Yet to be decided is the seat held by retiring Ward 1 Councilman Stuart Fleming. Tuesday ended in a Dec. 5 runoff between attorney Cheryl Richardson and retired consultant Jay Davis.
On the Marietta Board of Education, Ward 2 Vice Chairman Jason Waters and Ward 4 board member Allison Gruehn easily fended off challengers Arthur Vaughn and Camile Jones. Vaughn didn’t help himself when he signed onto a complaint last year alleging the school district was hurting its minority students with discriminatory policies.
As one elected official put it, “You had two folks that came across as anti-school system, and in Wards 2 and 4, if you’re anti-school system, your chance of winning is not real good.”
That begs the question why Ward 5 school board member Jeriene Bonner-Grimes was ousted by challenger Angela Orange. The elected official responded by saying “you’re dealing with a different demographic in Ward 5.”
Another city that will see three new members on its five-member council is Kennesaw. Former Councilman Pat Ferris was elected to the Post 3 seat held by Nimesh Patel, who opted not to run again. David Blinkhorn was elected to the Post 5 seat held by Councilman Jim Sebastian and Councilman Jimmy Dickens was ousted by Chris Henderson. In what was undoubtedly the biggest miscalculation of the election, Sebastian opted not to defend his Post 5 seat, but instead qualified to run against Dickens.
Cris Eaton-Welsh, who retired from the City Council in 2015, said voters didn’t care for that move.
“When (Sebastian) pulled that stunt to go run against Jimmy, I thought, ‘Wow, you want to talk about destroying your ability to work together,’” she said.
Eaton-Welsh is pleased with the outcome of the three Kennesaw races, calling them “a big win for the city.”
Other winning candidates who ran races to represent parts of Cobb County:
♦ In Austell, City Council members Ollie Clemons Jr. and Randy Green were returned to office.
♦ In Powder Springs, retired accounting specialist Nancy Farmer ousted Councilwoman Nancy Hudson.
♦ The five-way race to fill the seat vacated by former Smyrna Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz, who was elected to former Rep. Stacey Evans’ seat in the Statehouse, resulted in a runoff between business owner Travis Lindley and recording artist and business owner Maryline Blackburn.
To the newly elected and re-elected, we say congratulations while encouraging you to err on the side of transparency. Remember that it is the citizens, not yourselves or the government staff, that you serve and who you will be accountable to in the next election. For most of those finishing their role as public servants, we say thank you for your service.
“A wise and frugal government,” Thomas Jefferson said in his first inaugural address, “shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”