Voters oust two Kennesaw City Council incumbents, shattering its voting bloc
by Hannah Morgan
November 06, 2013 02:47 AM | 6206 views | 10 10 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 Kennesaw City Council candidate Jim Sebastian, right, receives a victory smooch from his wife, Karen, at the 41 Cap and Cork. Sebastian narrowly defeated incumbent Jeff Duckett. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Kennesaw City Council candidate Jim Sebastian, right, receives a victory smooch from his wife, Karen, at the 41 Cap and Cork. Sebastian narrowly defeated incumbent Jeff Duckett.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
CORRECTION: The election article that ran on Wednesday, November 6, incorrectly reported that councilman Bruce Jenkins would run in a runoff election in December against former Kennesaw mayor Leonard Church.

Kennesaw does not hold runoff elections for candidates, said City Clerk Debra Taylor, as elections are determined by, “plurality, not by majority.”

Church received close to 40 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s election, Jenkins received close to 37 percent, and Briggett Washington received about 23 percent of the votes, according to the Cobb County election results website.

Church will begin office in January.


KENNESAW — Three new members will join Kennesaw’s City Council as they knocked off incumbents, shattering a tight voting bloc that has controlled many of the city’s policies for months.

Williams in a landslide

Debra Williams, a local businesswoman who owns her own public relations and marketing business and serves on the Kennesaw Planning and Zoning Board, stunned incumbent Matt Riedemann by garnering 60 percent of the votes in the Post 4 race. She outpolled Riedemann by nearly 400 votes, tallying 1,142 to her opponent’s 757, according to unofficial results posted on the Cobb Board of Elections website.

Duckett goes down, barely

Jim Sebastian, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company, squeaked out a win over incumbent Jeff Duckett by about 30 votes, according to county election results.

“You did it, Jim, you did it!” Williams shouted across the crowded restaurant, 41 Cork and Tap, off Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw Station Shopping Center, pointing to Sebastian, as the election results came in Tuesday night.

Former Mayor Leonard Church wins

Former Kennesaw mayor Leonard Church beat incumbent councilman Bruce Jenkins and Briggett Washington in a tight race, neither candidate won 50 percent of the vote.

With Duckett and Riedemann going down in defeat, Mayor Mark Mathews will finish out the rest of his term without the voting bloc he has enjoyed.

Posting in pink

Councilwoman Cris Welsh, who was not up for re-election, posted the numbers as they came in from the county on a neon pink sheet, taped against the glass door at 41 Cork and Tap.

Peg Rhoad was excited about the potential for the new faces on the council, and said she hoped they could help to “Get the mayor out of town … and start getting the city where it needs to be,” both financially and ethically, said the owner of Dog Grooming by Peg on Main Street in downtown Kennesaw.

The Hickory Wine Bluegrass Band, with players from Tennessee and Woodstock, played as more than 60 supporters of Jenkins, Williams and Sebastian waited for the numbers to come in.

When Williams heard of her victory, she began to cry, “I made a promise to the people that I fully intend to keep,” she said.

Her best friend for more than 20 years, Lisa Lott, had driven in from Montgomery, Ala., to surprise Williams earlier that afternoon in the parking lot. She hugged Williams when the numbers began to come in.

Jenkins stood in the parking lot and said while he

was disappointed with the results, he vowed to continue to support the city and all of the council members.

“We need new blood, not old blood. Leadership is about everyone having a chance to serve. We need fresh faces, fresh ideas,” on the council, said 50-year-Kennesaw resident Mike Serkedakis, when he heard about Church’s victory.

Across town, at Mazzy’s Sports bar and Grill off Cherokee Street, more than 50 people came out to support Riedemann, and to watch election results come in.

Riedemann said he felt “wonderful” and happy that so many people had been involved in voting Tuesday. Recent reports of his personal financial difficulties had both hurt and helped his campaign, he said. While the reports had certainly lost him a few voters, Riedemann said that he received many emails, text messages and calls from residents who felt that he was “a real person” that they could relate to.

Duckett, who was narrowly beaten by Sebastian, could not be reached Tuesday night.

In the current council, Mathews has received strong support from council members Tim Killingsworth and Duckett, while Jenkins and Welsh have previously voted against the mayor on important issues for the city, including the city’s budget.

Riedemann joined the council in July, after the death of former councilman Bill Thrash, and has not been on the council long enough to establish a voting pattern.

Riedemann was appointed to the council, however, by a tie-breaking vote from the mayor last June, after Thrash’s death.

A picture of Thrash sat nearby on the bar Tuesday night at 41 Cork and Tap, facing out at the crowd as the final numbers came in.

Residents were more involved in this year’s election than ever before, they said, as news reports revealed the city’s struggling financial situation, and complaints about a lax credit card spending policy drew them to the polls.

Williams, Sebastian and Church will take office at the start of January. Council members Welsh and Killingsworth, along with the mayor, were not up for re-election this year.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Dixiechick 59
November 06, 2013
It's Church time!!!
ever since
November 06, 2013
Riedemann stole a seat from a widow, I was soooo hoping he would go down in defeat!!!!!HOORAY!!!!!
November 06, 2013
The first order of business for the new council should be to rip up the ridiculous skate boarding park at Swift-Cantrell park, put sod over the area and give the bill to the idiot mayor for approving it.
Near Kennesaw
November 06, 2013
I wondered if anyone else questioned the wisdom of placing a skate-board park at Swift-Cantrell Park. A basketball gym or pool (after funds are available) would be a much wiser use of this area.
I so agree
November 07, 2013
The park has become basically useless, for what???
Eileen Alberstadt
November 06, 2013
Debra, you did it! Jim you did it! I am so proud of the both of you for running hard working/walking campaigns. I think the people are tired of all the drama in this city and want fresh new blood to get a grip and redirect the city back on track! These two candidates have great ideas and just watch, this city will be prettier than ever and financially stronger than ever. People who voted for Debra and Jim, I personally thank each and every one of you and those who did not vote for them, you made an effort to get to the polls and make the #'s the highest they have ever been for voter turnout in a City Council Race. Please get involved and let these people know what they can do to answer your questions and if you can, there are several committees in the City of Kennesaw for the citizens to get involved.

PS: I would like to extend a Big Thank You to City Councilman Bruce Jenkins. 8 Years of dedication to the City and staying involved with many committees and taking over the projects of the Late Bill Thrash. Thank you again Bruce for a job well done.

November 06, 2013
It wasn't hard to guess that Reideman would be out. He was never elected in the first place and appointed to council in a power grab attempt by the Mayor. You say that he hadn't voted enough to establish a pattern, yet he seemed joined at the hip to both Mayor Mathews and Jeff Duckett. So we all knew where that was going.

It is fantastic to have people on council now who actually have higher education and solid business and financial experience.

Mathews has TOTALLY lost his power base.

Killingsworth is the only one left, and he will change sides in a heartbeat. He's up for reelection next and I guarantee he doesn't want his wagon hitched to Mathews, who's on his way down hill faster than the Scream Machine at Six Flags.

Mathews should just do the whole city a favor and resign now.
wrong again
November 06, 2013
Hannah you missed it AGAIN First of all Runoff Dec 3rd Kennesaw is Winner take all Also Matt did not get appointed in July. MDJ needs somebody that can get it right once in a while!!!!!
Sore loser????
November 06, 2013
Dear "Wrong Again",

Kennesaw's rules about no runoffs are different than the rest of the county. MDJ is not the only news org to report this.

Along with exactly when Matt was appointed, it's trivial and doesn't effect the basis of the article.

Which is, FINALLY, the citizens of Kennesaw got mad enough to do something about the unethical government they've been saddled with.

Mathews is on his way OUT OUT OUT!!!!

DO NOT blame the newspaper for YOUR failings.
Matt Riedemann
November 06, 2013
I would like to congratulate Mrs. Williams on becoming the next City Council Member in Post 4.

I know that Mrs. Williams will serve the citizens of Kennesaw with passion alongside Mr. Jim Sebastian, Leonard Church, the mayor, and other council members.


On a side note, there is not a runoff for Post 3. In Kennesaw a simple majority - as Mr. Church has - wins the election.


Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. It has been an honor and a privilege to do so.
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