Roswell’s intense election cycle ends with one runoff

Roswell councilmembers agreed to settle an open records lawsuit brought by Appen Media Group. AJC FILE PHOTO

Roswell councilmembers agreed to settle an open records lawsuit brought by Appen Media Group. AJC FILE PHOTO

Roswell has voted back in a pair of council members, but still has another race to go.

Incumbent councilmen Mike Palermo and Marcelo Zapata won their races, according to early Fulton elections results. Christine Hall and Lisa Holland will face each other in a Dec. 3 runoff, leaving behind Keith Goeke and Kay Howell.

In a very off-year election with no mayoral race on the ballot, it appears more than 11,000 residents in Roswell came out to have their voices heard.

More people voted in those races than any other in Fulton County, according to initial data from elections staff.

Roswell’s cycle was focused squarely on development.

BACKGROUND | Roswell election over development issues showcases 'mud-slinging'

Some in Roswell feel dense residential housing like apartments congests roads and adds children into classrooms who might move away quickly. Others feel smart development is the only way to bring everyone into the growing area.

The contest got hot and personal, as seen in multiple incidents:

• Geoff Smith, the candidate who lost to Palermo on Tuesday, four years ago as a private citizen claimed that Palermo was too young and against growth, and that Zapata, fluent in four languages, "barely speaks English" and had just moved to town." Now that the newsletter has resurfaced, Smith said he regretted part of his statement but refused to answer specific questions about the situation.

• City manager Gary Palmer has threatened to bar Palermo from city offices and investigate him for allegations of demeaning employees.

READ | Election results: Metro Atlanta voters usher in new leaders

• Former Mayor Jere Wood in October filed an ethics complaint against Palermo and Zapata claiming they didn't properly set up his campaign committee; Wood supports Palermo's rival, Smith. Palermo called the complaint "baseless" and "disappointing" on Facebook.

• The runoff will determine who fills the open seat created when Councilman Sean Groer, tired of the nasty politics, resigned in August and left town.

The level of distrust in city politics is so great, city employees in May 2018 set up a page on Roswell's website to dispel false claims that run rampant on social media. It's called "Roswell Rumors Page" and can be found under the city website's "government" tab or at

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