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Forest Park stalemate ends with defeat of incumbent

By Ed Brock and Greg Gelpi

The stalemate on the Forest Park City Council may be broken as voters have ousted one of three council members who has frequently opposed the mayor and two other members.

Incumbent Councilwoman for Ward 3 Corine Deyton lost to challenger David Halcome Sr. 82 to 47. Ward 4 Councilman Donald Judson, who along with Deyton and Councilwoman Debbie Youmans formed the coalition opposing Mayor Chuck Hall, beat out challenger John Buckholts by four votes, 108 to 104.

Councilman for Ward 5 Wes Lord, who generally sides with the mayor and Councilman Henry Estes, defeated 37-year-old David Lockhart.

Deyton, Judson and Youmans have tried several times to fire city attorney Jack Hancock and Deyton has also called for the termination of City Manager Bill Werner. All three, along with Estes, voted not to renew Werner's contract that expires on Nov. 15 but Estes said later that his vote was a mistake.

Deyton and Judson did not return phone calls seeking comment.

"I'm ready to try to move the city forward," Halcome said.

Halcome is 59 years old, has lived in Forest Park for 39 years and is the head of youth sports for Clayton County's Park and Recreations Department. He is married with two sons and says he wants to see the city move forward.

Lord, 66, said he will serve conscientiously.

"It's very humbling to know the voters went back and endorsed me," Lord said.

Hall said he is also pleased by the results of the race.

"I told (Halcome) I don't want a yes man, but I want someone who will look at the issues and do what's in the best interest of the city," Hall said.

Of the 6,709 voters in the city registered by the time of this election, 484 voted including absentee ballots. The election was not open to the entire city.

Other cities around the county also held elections Tuesday.

LAKE CITY

Incumbent Mayor Willie Oswalt beat challenger Jim Defee with 237 votes to Defee's 127.

Also, incumbent City Council members Bobby Williams (202 votes) and Dwight Ginn (186 votes) defeated challengers Kenneth Betz Jr. (163) and Raymond Johnson (145).

Oswalt has been mayor for more than two decades and said previously that his experience made him the best choice.

MORROW

Incumbent Mayor Jim Millirons earned 208 votes to soundly defeat write-in candidate Sharon Summers who received 10 votes.

"I appreciate the voters' confidence in me and I will fulfill the task they gave me," Millirons said.

Councilmen Tom LaPorte and Charles Sorrow were on the ballot but had no challengers. A total of 237 of the 1,974 registered voters in the city turned out for the election.

RIVERDALE

Riverdale's mayor since 1990 and a newcomer will be in a runoff election Nov. 25.

Challenger Phaedra Graham received 411 votes to Mayor Mary Lee's 260 votes in the field of four candidates.

With 972 votes cast, a candidate would have had to receive half plus one or 487 to have won outright.

Graham, 38, campaigned on a platform of change, but will have to wait until the runoff to know if Riverdale voters will change its mayor.

Lee, 69, campaigned on her accomplishments. Under her leadership, the government grew from 30 to 138 employees.

Other mayoral candidates, Kelley Jackson and Sherri Jefferson received 195 and 106 votes respectively.

For the Ward 4 city council seat, Kenny Ruffin unseated the incumbent Robby Strain 623 votes to 290 votes.

Running unopposed for Ward 2's city council spot, Michelle "Mickie" Bruce had 677 votes.

LOVEJOY

Councilman Bobby Cartwright fended off challenger Richard Simmons to keep his position on the Lovejoy City Council.

In a close election for Post 4, Cartwright received 41 votes to his opponent's 32.

Cartwright was appointed to the city council about six months ago and vowed to see that streets and sidewalks in Lovejoy are repaired and that special purpose local option sales tax revenue is properly used.

None of the other candidates were opposed, as Mayor Joe Murphy and council members Arlie Aukerman, Peggy Johnson and Barbara Spruill won another term in office.

"I am tickled by the results," Cartwright said. "It seemed like a tight race and I wish more people had voted."