Unofficial returns favor incumbents in metro Atlanta municipal elections

A voter enters the polling location at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church during Election Day in Marietta, Georgia, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo/Austin Steele for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Austin Steele

Credit: Austin Steele

A voter enters the polling location at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church during Election Day in Marietta, Georgia, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo/Austin Steele for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Progressive candidates fell short in their bids to unseat established metro Atlanta mayors in Tuesday’s municipal elections.

Results were unofficial early Wednesday, but in two closely-watched races considered bellwethers on potential Democratic gains in the suburbs, the incumbents appear to have claimed victory by large margins.

In Tucker, incumbent Frank Auman had 56% of the vote over his challenger, Robin Biro. The race has become one of the most heated in metro Atlanta due to the candidates’ past partisan affiliations — Auman is the former chairman of the DeKalb GOP, while Biro was a field operator for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Another race pitting a left-leaning challenger against a longtime Republican politician was in Marietta, where incumbent Steve “Thunder” Tumlin had 57% of the vote versus Michelle Cooper Kelly’s 43%. Tumlin is a former Republic state representative who has been mayor since 2010, while Kelly is a two-term councilwoman who identifies as a Democrat, according to Cobb’s Democratic party.

In Roswell, however, incumbent Mayor Lori Henry lost in a contentious election with two challengers: Jason Yowell and Kurt Wilson. Wilson had 60% of the vote, while Henry had 34% and Yowell had 6%. Henry’s record is marred by a poorly managed and overbudget Oxbo Road project, which an independent investigation found lacked oversight.

Voters in Johns Creek, Roswell and Stone Mountain also got their chance to vote in contentious mayoral races.

Mike Bodker, elected as Johns Creek’s founding mayor in 2006, will leave office in December, handing the keys to the young city over to either John Bradberry or Brian Weaver. Bradberry, a current councilman, had 60% of the vote, while Weaver, a former councilman who resigned his seat in July, had 40%. A “Save Johns Creek” flyer in support of Bradberry, who usually aligns with Republicans, stirred up controversy by alleging crime would increase if someone who is more akin to Democrats, like Weaver, were elected. Weaver, who is Black, said he believes the flyer is racially motivated.

A three-way race in Stone Mountain is currently led by Beverly Jones with 57% of the vote. Andrea Redmond follows with 28%, leaving Eileen Smith with 16%. Stone Mountain’s current mayor Patricia Wheeler, who has led the city off-and-on for 18 years since the 1980s, is not running for reelection, so a new face will inherit the small DeKalb city that’s often the site of controversy given the nearby Confederate carving within a theme park of the same name.

Other Contested Mayoral Races

Braselton: Kurt Ward had 78% of the vote versus Hardy Johnson’s 22%.

Sandy Springs: Incumbent Rusty Paul had 70% of the vote over Dontaye Carter.

Uncontested Mayoral Races

Chamblee: Brian Mock

Clarkston: Beverly Burks

Grayson: Allison Wilkerson

Loganville: Skip “Lee” Balies

Norcross: Craig Newton

Rest Haven: Kenneth Waycaster

Sugar Hill: Brandon Hembree

Countywide SPLOSTS

Cobb: The vote was 72% yes.

DeKalb: The vote was 81% yes.

Fulton: The vote was 70% yes.

Council Races

Brookhaven: District 2 incumbent H.J. “John” Park had 64% of the vote versus Katie Dunagan’s 35%. District 4 candidate John Funny had 80% of the vote versus Michael Dale Boone’s 20%.

Chamblee: District 1 Incumbent John Mesa had 62% of the vote versus Lewis Newmark’s 37%. District 4 candidate Elmer Veith had 58% of the vote versus Douglas Westhoven’s 40%. At-large district candidate Jimmy Furst had 56% of the vote verses Van Pappas’ 43%.

Decatur: District 1, Post A incumbent Kelly Walsh had 59% of the vote versus Katie Bell’s 41%.

Johns Creek: Post 1 candidate Dilip Tunki had 67% of the vote versus Lee Heard Tucker’s 33%. Post 2 candidate Stacy Skinner had 60% of the vote versus Rashmi Singh’s 40%. Post 3 candidate Bob Erramilli had 57% of the vote, Cassandra Littlejohn had 34% and Anthony Shorter had 9%. Post 5 candidate Larry DiBiase had 63% of the vote versus Pable Cecere’s 37%.

Kennesaw: Post 4 candidate Antonio Jones had 55% of the vote versus incumbent Chris Henderson’s 45%. Post 5 candidate Trey Sinclair had 53% of the vote versus Jon Brothers’ 47%.

Marietta: Ward 2 incumbent Griffin Chalfant had 65% of the vote versus John Silvey’s 35%. Ward 4 incumbent Andy Morris had 62% of the vote versus Ted Ferreira’s 38%. Ward 5 candidate Carlyle Kent had 38% of the vote, incumbent Reginald Copeland had 34% and Christina Stallworth had 28%.

Powder Springs: Incumbent Nancy Farmer trailed with 49% of the vote versus Dwayne Green’s 51%.

Roswell: Post 4 candidate Peter Vanstrom had 58% of the vote versus incumbent Marie Willsey’s 42%. Post 5 candidate Michael Dal Cerro had 39% of the vote, William Morthland had 38% and Yalonda Freeman had 23%. Post 6 candidate Lee Hills’ had 54% of the vote versus incumbent Matt Judy’s 44%.

Sandy Springs: District 1 incumbent John Paulson had 59% of the vote versus Megan Harris’ 41%. District 2 candidate Melody Kelley’s 51% edged Linda Trickey’s 49%. District 3 candidate Melissa Mular had 50% of the vote, Leslie Mullis had 34% and Eric Newberg had 15%. District 4 incumbent Jody Reichel had 54% of the vote, Tochie Blad had 21%, Michelle Sullivan had 16% and Vern Graham had 10%. District 5 incumbent Tibby DeJulio had 70% of the vote versus Colin Hubbard’s 30%. District 6 incumbent Andy Bauman had 63% of the vote versus Jeff Howe’s 37%.

Stone Mountain: Post 4 candidate Gil Freeman had 46% of the vote, Richard Mailman had 23%, incumbent Diana Roe Hollis had 22% and Michael Schaaphok had 9%. Post 5 incumbent Shawnette Bryant had 56% of the vote versus Shani Linder’s 43%. Post 6 candidate Teresa Crowe had 38% of the vote, Anthony Hernandez-Wallen had 34% and Ryan Smith had 27%.

Stonecrest: District 1 candidate Tara Graves had 42%, incumbent Jimmy Clanton Jr. 38% and Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo had 20%. District 3 incumbent Jazzmin Cobble had 65% of the vote, Alecia Washington had 33% and Herbert Woods had 2%. District 5 incumbent Tammy Grimes had 69% of the vote, Barbara Hall had 27% and Ryan Gallagher had 3%.

Tucker: District 1, Post 1 candidate Roger Orlando had 55% of the vote versus Karen Peters-Rivers’ 44%. District 1, Post 2 candidate Virginia Rece had 55% of the vote, Shawn Woods had 32% and Christine Bloodworth had 13%. District 2, Post 1 candidate Cara Schroeder had 41% of the vote, Imani Barnes had 38% and Thomas Walker had 20%. District 3, Post 1 candidate Alexis Weaver had 54% of the vote, Neal Stubblefield had 41% and Dave Deaton had 4%.

Other elections

Decatur’s Homestead Exemption: The vote for the exemption, would give older homeowners a tax break, was 89% yes.

Fulton’s T-SPLOST: The vote for the transportation special purpose local option sales tax, which would add a tax to generate money for infrastructure improvements, was 62% yes.

Lithonia’s Annexation Referendum: The vote for the annexation, which would add about 480 people and roughly 300 acres to the city, was 56% no.