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.