“I’m extremely happy,” said Tumlin, surrounded by his wife, Jean Alice, three children, four grandchildren, and a room full of supporters at the Marietta Museum of History where he held his victory party.
“Mr. Levinson made me work hard and I enjoyed it,” Tumlin said. “It was debated on the issues and I liked that. I’m very encouraged by this both for myself and for the city.”
Tumlin received 3,979 votes, or 80 percent of the vote, compared to challenger Charley Levinson, who received 1,000 votes, or 20 percent.
About 18.6 percent of eligible voters turned out for the election, according to unofficial numbers posted on the county Board of Elections website.
“I know this community so well and the people in it, and I think they think I have credibility,” Tumlin said, on why he believes voters returned him to office. “When I make a campaign promise or smile at them, they know it’s sincere.”
Dan Cox, founder of the Marietta Museum of History, turned out to celebrate at Tumlin’s victory party.
“Steve being an old timer here, he’s cut in the image of (former Marietta mayors) Joe Mack Wilson and Bob Flournoy,” Cox said. “He seems to be doing the same type job that Joe Mack and Bob Flournoy did, which was beautifying the city, keeping everybody in line.”
Tumlin brought a sense of unity to a once fractured and divided City Council, Cox said.
“He’s brought the council together, and he’s a decent man on top of that, and I’ve always liked his family anyhow,” Cox said. “It’s a good old family. He’s a decent person. He’ll float a dumb idea but it’s an idea. You don’t know until you try, and I admire him for just floating ideas.”
Levinson said he called Tumlin to congratulate him on his victory and the success of the redevelopment bond.
“Marietta voters have decided on their future, and we respect their verdict,” Levinson said, thanking his supporters for their help with the campaign.
Levinson, who took out a $3,000 personal loan and raised another $2,000, said he was heavily outspent by Tumlin, who raised about $20,000.
Levinson attributed his loss to “the normal institutional advantages of incumbency. The mayor is obviously a lifelong Mariettan, and he has life-long connections, he was able to raise a lot more money than I did. He’s a skilled politician, I’ll give him that.”
Former state Sen. Chuck Clay of Marietta said while Levinson seems like a bright person, he never saw much of a campaign from him.
“I don’t see a campaign either with the financial base or the name identification base or an issue base that sort of has jelled at all,” Clay said. “That is not a criticism of him personally. I’m sure he’s a fine person. I just don’t see a real campaign having taken root.”
Councilman Grif Chalfant points out that although the city has a weak mayor system, with the mayor not allowed a vote except to break a tie, that has not impeded Tumlin’s ability to lead.
“Thunder has the ability to pull together four or five votes,” Chalfant said. “A little bit of it’s charisma even though you can’t understand him, but it is charisma. He’s willing to talk to you and listen to your ideas and convince you of his side. He’s very astute at the political system among individuals. He’s excellent in discussions one-on-one. That’s where he’s way ahead of everybody else.”