Marietta mayor thunders his way to fourth term

Marietta Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin was re-elected to his fourth term Tuesday. AJC file photo

Marietta Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin was re-elected to his fourth term Tuesday. AJC file photo

Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin woke up Wednesday morning looking toward four more years as the leader of Cobb County’s oldest city.

He staved off a challenge from Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly and was re-elected to his fourth term in Tuesday’s election.

In perhaps the premiere race of Cobb County’s municipal elections this year, Tumlin racked up almost 5,000 votes, or 57.2%, to decisively retain his seat, according to unofficial results. Cooper Kelly, who’s finishing up her second term as Marietta’s 6th Ward council member, was vying to make history as the city’s first Black mayor.

“I’m obviously disappointed in the results, but I’m not discouraged,” she said Wednesday. “I feel really humbled and inspired by all of the support, volunteer dedication and just all of the energy that surrounded my campaign.”

Tumlin did not immediately return phone calls and emails from the AJC on Wednesday.

Twenty four-year terms on five city councils were up for grabs in the county. Minor glitches that caused delays in some polls opening on time Tuesday morning compelled a Superior Court judge to order eight polls remain open to voters past the 7 p.m. deadline.

By 5 p.m. Tuesday, lines were virtually non-existent at multiple polls visited by the AJC, including the Fair Oaks Recreation Center, which was one of the precincts ordered to stay open 15 minutes late.

That was evidenced by voter turnout, which was less than 10% countywide. Of the county’s 530,000 registered voters, only about 50,000 cast ballots, according to preliminary statistics from Cobb County Elections and Voter Registration.

Little more than 8,700 votes came in for Marietta’s mayoral race, results show. That’s a paltry sum compared to over 40,000 ballots cast in Marietta precincts during last year’s presidential election. Cooper Kelly felt low participation for the local races played a key role in her loss.

“My message was all about transparency and moving Marietta forward through inclusion, through more affordable housing for teachers, nurses, police officers, seniors, and just young professionals that live in our city. At the end of the day, that message resonated with 42% of the population that voted,” she said.

Voters overwhelmingly passed the renewal of an E-SPLOST with 72% of votes in favor. The penny tax will fund capital improvements for Cobb County and the City of Marietta school districts for another five years after the current E-SPLOST expires Dec. 31, 2023.

Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood was one of 12 unopposed candidates, 10 of which were incumbents. Allegood won his sixth consecutive term, while Post 5 Alderman Tim Houston cruised to an unchallenged re-election. Acworth’s Post 4 Alderman Tim Richardson garnered 53.7% of votes to defeat Kimberly Haase, the founder of a senior caregiving company.

In Kennesaw, Chris Henderson, an at-large Precinct 4 councilman, lost his bid to a second term. Community activist Antonio Jones, who owns a gun store and eyewear shop in town, received 55.4% of votes to unseat the incumbent.

Trey Sinclair, who owns Dry County Brewing in downtown Kennesaw, got 52.8% of votes to topple real estate broker Jon Fred Brothers to claim the Post 5 council seat former councilman David Blinkhorn vacated to run in the State House Representative District 34 special election earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Powder Springs Ward 3 Councilwoman Nancy Farmer lost her seat by six votes. Funeral home owner Dwayne Green just cleared the 50% mark, to edge the incumbent.

In other Marietta races, Councilman Reggie Copeland finished second in a three-way race for his Ward 5 seat. Real estate agent Carlyle Kent was the front runner. The two of them will square off in a winner-take-all runoff Nov. 30. Cristina Stallworth was the third-place vote getter in that race.

Ward 2 incumbent Griffin Chalfant routed restaurant owner John Silvey, gobbling up 65.3% of votes.

Ward 4 Councilman Andy Morris eased past art designer Ted Ferreira with 62%. Realtor Andre Sims faced no opposition in his bid to fill Cooper Kelly’s vacated Ward 6 seat.

Other election results:

AUSTELL: Post 1 Councilwoman Melanie Elder and Ward 1 Councilman Marlin Lamar Jr. both retained their seats unopposed. Senior operational manager Meredith Adams will be a newcomer taking the Ward 3 council position from Randy P. Green, who did not run. She, too, was unopposed.

KENNESAW: At-Large Post 3 incumbent Pat Ferris had no opposition for his council seat.

MARIETTA: Council members Cheryl Richardson (Ward 1), Johnny Walker (Ward 3), and Joseph Goldstein (Ward 7) had no qualified challengers — write-in candidate Catrina Ball got no votes in the Ward 3 race.

POWDER SPRINGS: Ward 1 Councilman Henry L. Lust and Ward 2 Councilwoman Doris Dawkins both ran unopposed.