Roswell voters hit reset; oust incumbent mayor, councilmembers

Roswell Mayor-elect Kurt Wilson. Courtesy Claire Bartlett

Combined ShapeCaption
Roswell Mayor-elect Kurt Wilson. Courtesy Claire Bartlett

Roswell residents voted to remove the mayor and two other incumbents Tuesday.

Mayor-elect Kurt Wilson got 60% of the vote, beating incumbent Mayor Lori Henry and fellow candidate Jason Yowell.

In addition to Henry, council members Matt Judy and Marie Willsey lost their races in an election that Councilman-elect Peter Vanstrom described on Wednesday as a vote for change.

“I think the city has spoken and they were disappointed in things — Oxbo Road and the money that was lost on that project,” Vanstrom said. “And (voters) have an overall concern about the next big project, and transparency.”

Vanstrom was elected to Willsey’s Post 4 seat with 58% of the vote. Councilman Matt Judy lost his Post 6 seat to Lee Hills, who won 56% of the vote.

Separately, a runoff between newcomers Will Morthland and Michael Dal Cerro will take place Nov. 30 for the Post 5 seat being vacated by Councilman Matthew Tyser, who announced in August that he plans to run for office in the state Legislature.

Morthland and Dal Cerro each had 38% of the vote, besting opponent Yalonda Freeman’s 23%.

While some north Fulton cities were enmeshed in partisan politics before Election Day, Wilson and Vanstrom said city issues have been the focus of the election season in Roswell. The most glaring issue for the city and Henry this year has been mismanagement of the overbudget Oxbo Road Project. Findings of an independent investigation launched by Henry found a lack of oversight resulted in officials overpaying for multiple parcels of land for the $14 million project.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution left phone messages with Henry requesting a conversation on the outcome of the mayoral race but she did not respond.

Wilson said Roswell will reset when he takes office in January and he will take the heat and responsibility for city projects and problems.

“I think a year from now we will be well on the path of getting things done,” Wilson said Wednesday.

Wilson, a 59-year-old franchisee of a Zaxby’s restaurant, said he has a 20-year plan for Roswell that will attract private capital and include the east side of the city where residents feel ignored. The mayor-elect said he plans to create a central park for that section of town. And separately he will review and consider implementing the Roswell River Parks Master Plan and other projects put on hold which have cost the city millions of dollars in preliminary design concepts, he said.

“People were excited about the possibility of what Roswell will do,” Wilson said about voters.

Less than 10 years ago Roswell was nationally thought of as a model for other cities, local officials have said.

Wilson said his goal is to make Roswell a “crown jewel again.”