Kennesaw Planning Commission member Debra Williams has qualified to run against Councilman Matthew Riedemann.
Also, Briggett Washington, CEO of the nonprofit, Marietta-based Cobb Alzheimer’s Foundation, announced she will be in the race against incumbent Councilman Bruce Jenkins.
Williams, who has worked on the mayor’s past campaigns, prompted an ethics complaint against Mathews in June with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh, who filed the complaint, alleges misuse of campaign funds just after the election in November 2011 after Mathews participated in a raffle at a banquet of the Kennesaw chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
Mathews won a Rossi 20-gauge shotgun in that raffle valued at between $350 and $400.
Mathews also is said to have spent $420 in leftover campaign funds to buy restaurant gift cards for city department heads just before Christmas 2011. The mayor said the gift cards were given simply as a measure of thanks for a job well done.
Williams also provided the MDJ with text messages between herself and the mayor, in which Mathews mocked the late Councilman Bill Thrash for wanting his wife, Suzanne Thrash, to serve out the end of his term this year.
Mathews wanted Riedemann to fill the seat instead and ended up getting his wish.
The City Council has fractured over these and other controversies with Eaton-Welsh and Jenkins on one side and the mayor and council members Tim Killingsworth, Jeff Duckett and Riedemann on the other.
Mathews, who was re-elected in Nov. 2011, is not up for election this year.
Jenkins gets two challenges
Jenkins has attracted two challengers: former Kennesaw Mayor Leonard Church and Washington.
Mathews ousted Church in November 2007. Elections officials later realized that some residents of
the Ridenour senior-living complex had not been properly classified in the elections system as eligible to vote in the city. A new election took place, and Mathews beat Church again in January 2008. Church came back to challenge Mathews in November 2011 and lost a third time.
One City Hall insider said Mathews has recruited Washington, a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Cobb program, to run against Jenkins.
Washington disputes that allegation.
“I was not recruited by Mayor Mathews. That is not true,” Washington said on Wednesday. “I am running because I love the city of Kennesaw.”
Washington, 42, who has a 13-year-old son at Awtrey Middle School, where she is president of the PTSA, and a daughter at Georgia State University, said she would not be taking sides in the City Council divide.
“I am running to represent the community so there is no side except for the benefit of the community,” she said. “I stand alone. I make my own decisions on what I believe is right for the community and what the community believes that they want and I’m their voice.”
Asked what she thought of Mathews, Washington said, “I think that the mayor is a very nice man, a very nice man. I am one that was raised on the values of ‘believe half of what you see and none of what you hear’ and, from my observance and me being in the company of the council, I have not seen any issues that cannot be resolved.”
Duckett, meantime, has attracted opposition from James “Jim” Sebastian, chair of the Kennesaw Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company specializing in product warrantees.