Johns Creek mayor-elect seeks unity, says partisanship dominated election

John Bradberry was elected mayor Tuesday winning 60% of the vote over former Councilman Brian Weaver.
Caption
John Bradberry was elected mayor Tuesday winning 60% of the vote over former Councilman Brian Weaver.

Credit: City of Johns Creek

Credit: City of Johns Creek

Following a turbulent campaign season, Johns Creek voters elected a new mayor and four council members to fill vacant seats.

John Bradberry was elected mayor Tuesday winning 60% of the vote over former Councilman Brian Weaver. He was joined in the winner’s circle by incoming Councilmembers Dilip Tonki, Stacy Skinner, Bob Erramilli and Larry Dibiasi.

ExploreAJC.com: Complete election results
Caption
John Bradberry was elected mayor Tuesday winning 60% of the vote over former Councilman Brian Weaver.

John Bradberry was elected mayor Tuesday winning 60% of the vote over former Councilman Brian Weaver.
Caption
John Bradberry was elected mayor Tuesday winning 60% of the vote over former Councilman Brian Weaver.

Johns Creek elections are nonpartisan but the tone of campaigns grew divisive after candidate forums highlighted political party support. In a Facebook post, last week, outgoing Mayor Mike Bodker spoke against campaign narratives by some candidates that he said were “scare tactics.”

The new mayor and City Council will be tasked with trying to unify the city of 82,000 in addition to carrying out their goals for Johns Creek.

“I think partisan politics played way too great a part (in campaigns) …” Bradberry said Thursday. “I hope that we never see another election like this in Johns Creek … where people try to run on a political party.”

Bradberry, who moves to mayor from his City Council Post 3 seat, added that he believes residents are tired of partisan arguments and he faults politicians and the media for the division.

His run for mayor was supported by the Fulton County Republican Party and Weaver was endorsed by the Fulton County Democratic Party. Partisan flyers circulated in Johns Creek showing support for a list of candidates affiliated with the political parties.

Weaver said he thought messages on the flyers targeting him instilled fear in people through false narratives and stereotypes.

“It was disappointing,” Weaver said. The former councilman said now that the race is over, he wishes the best for Bradberry and newly-elected City Council members.

Councilman-elect Erramilli said it’s time to look forward. “At the end of the day both sides realize work needs to be done for the city,” he said. “All of us realize we have another mountain to climb.”

During the races, candidates battled over a few main issues that residents are consistently vocal about such as how to develop a new town center and preventing the spread of crime from Atlanta, the latter becoming a rallying cry for GOP-aligned political contenders. But the dividing line in affluent Johns Creek — a city that is 52% nonwhite according to 2020 U.S. Census information — could be about something more than those concerns.

One of Erramilli’s Post 3 opponents, Cassandra Littlejohn, said she met residents while campaigning who expressed apathy and disconnection with city government. They didn’t feel represented by current elected officials or the candidates running for office, she said.

“I think that meant based on values or diversity,” Littlejohn said. “I heard that a lot … There were a lot of people with apathy — that was the sad part for me — and people who are voters and didn’t feel the need to vote.”

Bradberry said he wants to unify Johns Creek. He said an approach to bringing residents together will be to expand community events to include residents from more areas of the city.

“Nothing is more unifying than success and I’m not going to be focused on anything other than building a greater community in Johns Creek,” he said. “Anyone that wants to be a part of that, I will extend an open hand.”

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