Off to the Races in Peachtree City

It looks like the annual Dragon Boat race in Peachtree City, coming up next month, might not be the most colorful competition of the year after all. Starting Aug. 26, candidates will be filing papers to fill three of four seats on the City Council, plus the biggest prize of them all, the mayor’s chair.

George Dienhart resigned from his Post 2 council spot last week to run for mayor, where he’ll be competing with Post 4 incumbent Vanessa Fleisch and current mayor Don Haddix.

Kim Learnard, who now represents Post 3, is also up for re-election, leaving only Eric Imker of Post 1 as the guaranteed carryover from the current administration.

Other local candidates are also preparing to run, which is setting the stage for a lively election season – one that may have some interesting parallels to the Dragon Boat race.

First, both events are guaranteed to have colorful characters.

Former mayor Harold Logsdon has announced plans to seek his former seat, putting him toe-to-toe with Haddix, the man who replaced him in 2009. Given that the two only recently settled a libel lawsuit Logsdon filed against Haddix in 2011, the city’s postponed 2013 Independence Day fireworks that will now usher in Labor Day may end up just being an opening act for Election Day.

Fireworks have been pretty common between Haddix and the other council members during this term, so the concept of rowing in unison might not be evident when Haddix, Dienhart and Fleisch go up against each other.

Second, there’s the issue of flotation. All campaigns run on cash, and the more candidates there are, the tougher the competition for election funds. It remains to be seen who’ll earn enough support to stay afloat the longest.

Controlling leaks is also key. Public officials by definition have to immerse themselves in all sorts of business deals, personal alliances and some degree of quid pro quo. While we wouldn’t expect any leaks of Anthony Weiner proportions, you never know what sort of information will surface during the court of a heated campaign.

Like the Dragon Boats, elections serve their audiences best when they offer a robust lineup of worthy competitors. Having a diverse roster filled with tested veterans and promising rookies makes for a more interesting race.

There’s still time for Peachtree City residents of all ages and backgrounds to grab an oar and join the fray. Go for speed, go for endurance, but if you live in what Money magazine recently named on of the Top 50 Best Small Towns, think about helping it move forward.

It is perhaps the nature of both politics and boat racing that many, if not all, of the participants will emerge from the competition at least partially stained with mud. But if you’ve got a yen for public office, now might be the perfect time to jump in and get wet.

Jill Howard Church has lived in Fayette County since 1994. Reach her at