Everything voters need to know about North Fulton elections

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Everything voters need to know about North Fulton elections

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Phil Skinner, AJC
Election Day is set for Tuesday Nov. 7. Roswell will have a new mayor, Sandy Springs will have a new councilmember. Races are on in north Fulton County.

On Nov. 7, a city in north Fulton County will elect a new mayor.

Another city, Milton, could have a new mayor, and each city is likely to have new members on its city council.

Sandy Springs, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton and Alpharetta are all due for municipal elections this fall. Qualifying for elections in each city have come and gone, and since then, some candidates have bowed out of races.

Heading into November, residents of those cities should have a better idea of whose names will be on their ballots.

Here is a guide to everything voters should know about the upcoming elections in north Fulton County.

When was qualifying?

Qualifying in each city began at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 21. Qualifying is when candidates formally declare their candidacy by paying fees and submitting necessary forms to the city clerk’s office. Fees range from $390 to $1,200. All qualifying ended at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 25. 

Which mayors are running for re-election?

Joe Lockwood is seeking re-election for a fourth term in Milton and Rusty Paul is seeking a second – and likely final – term in Sandy Springs. In Johns Creek, Mike Bodker, the city’s mayor since 2006, is also seeking re-election.

Why isn’t the mayor of Roswell running for re-election?

Jere Wood announced earlier this month that he would not seek another term in the mayor’s seat, but only after a judge ruled that he had violated the office’s term limits. The judge ordered Wood to be immediately dismissed from office, but Wood, who has been mayor for nearly two decades, is appealing.

So, Roswell will have a new mayor for the first time since 1997?

Yes. Wood has said he wants to finish his term and can stay on as mayor until then, or at least until his appeal is heard.

So, who is running for mayor in Roswell?

It started as a crowded field, but two people have dropped out.

Before the ruling on Wood came down, Kurt Wilson - who also ran for the 6th District Congressional seat - bowed out of the race before it even started.

Another candidate, 25-year-old Sandra Sidhom, qualified for the election and campaigned hard, but Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard ruled that she was inelligible because she had not lived in Roswell for at least a year. The ruling stemmed from Eric Schumacher, a Roswell resident who submitted an official challenge on Sidhom’s qualification as a candidate. Sidhom officially withdrew on Oct. 30. Since then, she has endorsed Michael Litten.

Litten, 62, was the first to announce his campaign and has ran for mayor before, beginning with a write-in campaign in 2005. He has lived in Roswell for more than 30 years and has more than 40 years of health care experience. It was a lawsuit filed by Litten that led a judge rule on Wood’s term limits.

Shortly after a judge ruled on Wood, Donald J. Horton, who has been the mayor pro tem for the last year, announced his candidacy for mayor. Horton, 69, was elected as the city councilman for Roswell’s Post 3 in 2015.

Another council member, Lori Henry, also qualified for the race. Henry, 62, previously served on Roswell’s council from 2001 to 2009, and took the Post 4 seat earlier this year after the resignation of Kent Igleheart. Previously, the Ohio State University graduate unsuccessfully ran for Roswell mayor in 2009, and for the Fulton County Commission in 2010. Henry has recieved an endorsement from fellow city council member, Marcelo Zapata.

A local pastor, Lee Jenkins, is also a candidate in the race. Jenkins, 56, is an Atlanta native, the founder of his church and played football at the University of Tennessee and for the New York Giants.

In Johns Creek and Sandy Springs, will those mayors face competition?

Paul and Bodker initially faced challengers in the race, but both dropped out.

In Sandy Springs, David Crim withdrew just days after qualifying, saying he “realized it would take a lot of work” to fix the problems facing Sandy Springs, and that he “never aspired” to be a politician.

Bodker faced a tough race from challenger Alex Marchetti initially, but the 67-year-old buisnessman withdrew from the race just before a candidate forum on Oct. 18, citing personal and professional reasons.

Now running unopposed, Bodker’s next term will be his fourth in Johns Creek.

What about Milton? Is Lockwood running unopposed too?

No, Lockwood face competition from Dr. Laura Rencher, an Alabama native who holds degrees from the University of South Alabama, Texas and Georgia State. She has lived in Milton for more than 10 years. 

Rencher, 50, is the co-founder of the non-profit Preserve Rural Milton and says she will “assertively institute programs that will help balance development with preservation.”

So, the term isn’t up for the mayor of Alpharetta?

No. David Belle Isle has been Alpahretta’s mayor since 2012, and his current term won’t end until December 2019. However, Belle Isle has announced that he will run for Georgia’s Secretary of State. This means he will stay on as mayor until qualifying for that election, which is March 2018. After that, Alpharetta will hold a special election for the remainder of Belle Isle’s mayoral term.

What type of city council races will we see?

Sandy Springs: Four incumbents will run unopposed and newcomer Steve Soteres will also run unopposed for the District 2 seat, left open by current councilman Ken Dishman who chose not to run. The only competition will be for the District 4 seat, where Le’Dor Milteer will face Jody Reichel in a race to suceed Gabriel Sterling.

RoswellAndrew LeonardiMeg McClanahan and Marie Willsey will compete for the Post 4 seat. Keith Goeke will face Matthew Tyser in the Post 5 race to succeed councilman Jerry Orlans. For Post 6, Gus HadornMatt Judy and Karen Parrish will battle to replace Nancy DiamondSix candidates qualified for the special election to finish Horton’s term as the Post 3 councilman. They are Hanny AlexanderBassem FakhourySean A. GroerMike NydenJoe Piontek and George Vail.

Johns Creek: For Post 1, incumbent Leonard Zaprowski will face a challenger in Issure Chen Yang. City council member Cori Davenport is not seeking re-election for Post 3, so that race is wide open with residents Vicki HortonRichard HolladayJohn Bradberry and Mark Venco vying for that seat. For Post 5 on the city council, incumbent Stephanie Endres will face a challenger in Chris Jackson.

Milton: In District 1, Peyton Jaminson is running unopposed. In District 2, Laura Bentley is challenging incumbent Bill Lusk. In District 3, incumbent Joseph Longoria is running unopposed, but only qualified for the seat after no one else did.

AlpharettaDonald Mitchell and Chris Owens will run as unopposed incumbents for their Post 1 and 3 seats, respectively. Ben Burnett and Ben Easterling will face off in the race for the Post 2 chair.

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