Councilman wins Brookhaven mayor runoff on day of losses by incumbents

A model is shown of Brookhaven’s City Hall before the groundbreaking for Brookhaven’s $78 million City Hall at the Brookhaven MARTA Station parking lot, Wednesday, October 11, 2023, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

A model is shown of Brookhaven’s City Hall before the groundbreaking for Brookhaven’s $78 million City Hall at the Brookhaven MARTA Station parking lot, Wednesday, October 11, 2023, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

A longtime City Council member will be the next mayor of Brookhaven — and make history as the first Asian-American Pacific Islander elected as a mayor in Georgia.

John Park earned 59% of votes in the runoff election against Lauren Kiefer, according to unofficial results. Park will succeed Mayor John Ernst, who was term-limited.

“Tonight, after a long and tough campaign, the people of Brookhaven made their voices heard and elected me as our city’s next Mayor,” Park said in a statement. “Our victory is proof that hard work and unwavering commitment to the people will always win in Brookhaven.

The mayoral contest was one of several races across metro Atlanta that went to a runoff after candidates failed to get more than 50% of the vote in November’s general election. This time around, challengers upset incumbents to take an Atlanta School Board seat and several council seats.

Park, a technical consultant who tracks disease spread for the Centers for Disease Control and other laboratories, campaigned on his experience as a longtime Brookhaven council member. He was first elected in 2014.

Under Ernst, the city’s growth has been ambitious, culminating in the October groundbreaking of a new $78 million City Hall. Park has said that as mayor, his focus will be on finishing what has been started.

“My plan is to execute and see our vision through,” he said previously.

Kiefer, an attorney and a political newcomer who won 41% of the vote, ran to “bring a fresh perspective.” During the campaign, she criticized current city leaders for not listening to residents’ concerns like they promised when the city was founded, particularly the City Hall project.

In the last weeks of the campaign, Kiefer was targeted by the Georgia GOP, which sent out mailers accusing Kiefer of being a “dangerous extremist.” The Brookhaven mayor’s race is nonpartisan.

Park, whose family moved from South Korea to Decatur when he was a child, said he was humbled to make history as the state’s first Asian American Pacific Islander elected mayor.

“I’m grateful to our entire Brookhaven community for your faith and support in achieving this significant milestone,” Park said in a statement.

An Atlanta At-Large school board seat was also on Tuesday’s ballot. Clayton County teacher Alfred “Shivy” Brooks defeated current board member Tamara Jones to take the District 7 seat. Brooks earned 64% of the vote to Jones’ 36%.

Brooks fought successfully last year to change a long-standing regulation that banned teachers from serving on Atlanta’s school board. He has run on becoming the first active teacher to serve on the board, saying teachers need to be represented.

”This is about righting something that has been wrong for a very long time,” Brooks said after the Nov. 7 general election. “Our teachers don’t need their voices amplified by others. Our teachers deserve to be heard directly.”

Jones, an architect and urban planner, was elected to the board in 2021. She made literacy and responsible budgeting central themes of her campaign. As a member of the board’s policy committee, she helped craft Atlanta Public Schools’ first-ever literacy policy. She voted against the district’s proposed budget for 2024 because she didn’t think officials allocated enough money to schools.

Jones is the second incumbent to lose her seat on the Atlanta School Board this year. District 3 representative Michelle Olympiadis lost to challenger Ken Zeff in November.

Several City Council races and a Henry County commissioner seat were also on the ballot. Here’s the unofficial results of each runoff:

  • Doraville City Council District 2 Post 2: Carrie Armistead defeated MD Naser.
  • East Point City Council Ward B: Carrie Ziegler defeated incumbent Josette Bailey.
  • East Point City Council Ward C: Tremayne Mitchell defeated incumbent Myron Cook.
  • East Point City Council Ward D: LaTonya Martin Rogers defeated incumbent Stephanie Gordon.
  • Henry County Commissioner District 2: Incumbent Neat Robinson defeated Bruce Holmes.
  • Morrow City Council Post 4: With 83% of precincts reporting, Incumbent Khoa Vuong was ahead of Oscar Lanza Menjivar.
  • Peachtree City Council Post 1: Laura Plauché Johnson defeated Tamara Allen Moore.
  • Roswell City Council Post 2: Allen Sells defeated Michael Dal Cerro.
  • South Fulton City Council District 5: Keosha Bell defeated incumbent Corey Reeves.
  • Snellville City Council Post 1: Norman Carter defeated Catherine Hardrick.
  • Stonecrest City Council District 2: Terry Fye defeated incumbent Rob Turner.

All election results are unofficial until they are certified on Dec. 11.

Staff writer Martha Dalton contributed to this report.

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