Peachtree Corners elects mayor, braces for four council runoffs

Mike Mason, a leader of the movement to incorporate Peachtree Corners and founder of the powerful United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, ran unopposed and won 94 percent of the vote. Phil Sadd and Jay Lowe, winners of their respective city council elections, will join Mason as the city's first elected council members.

Sadd won the Post 1 seat with 71 percent of the vote over two opponents, while Lowe defeated challenger Stephen Peet with 52 percent of the vote in the Post 2 race.

As expected, the other four council races will go to runoffs because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes. No fewer than three candidates were running for each seat except for the Post 2 race between Lowe and Peet.

The runoffs will be held April 3.

"I'm looking forward to knowing who's going to be on the city council," Mason said. "There’s so many candidates that there weren't going to be clear run away winners."

Candidates for Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3 were chosen by voters from specific districts; Post 4, Post 5 and Post 6 are at-large seats and were chosen by residents across the city.

The candidates to make runoffs were: David Proud and Alex Wright in Post 3; Jeanne Aulbach and Robert Byars in Post 4; Lorri Christopher and Gray Terry in Post 5; and Weare Gratwick and Brian Stickney in Post 6.

The pool of candidates included several residents who played major roles in the campaign for cityhood, among them Aulbach, Byars, and Wright. Few opponents of the incorporation effort chose to run for office, indicating they preferred to operate as watchdogs of the new government.

The new council will have to allay the concerns of cityhood opponents and heal divisions within the community following the closest incorporation vote in metro Atlanta over the past six years. Other referendums were approved by at least 81 percent of the vote; Peachtree Corners claimed just 57 percent.

Once they are all in office, the officials will face the sobering task of building a government from scratch for Gwinnett County's first new city in 56 years, when it begins operation on July 1.

Peachtree Corners is poised to become the biggest of Gwinnett County's 16 municipalities with an estimated 38,000 residents in an area between Norcross and Berkeley Lake.

Mason was the sole candidate to qualify for the mayoral race, which meant he was a shoo-in to serve the inaugural four-year term as Peachtree Corners' top elected official.

While Mason drew no competitors for mayor, voters complained of the difficult task in sifting through City Council candidates lower on the ballot.

Most of the candidates were unknown to voters and making their first run for public office. Making it harder to distinguish the contenders was they all virtually agreed on the basic concepts of their new layer of government: keep taxes low and government small, and maintain the character of their community.

"I didn't know many of the individuals in the council races," said Dan Meehan, a 30-year resident of the area that became  Peachtree Corners.

"I really didn't know them," said another voter, Nancy Cherson. "They weren't that different from each other."

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