By Curt Yeomans
John Lampl is going back to the Morrow City Council after a 12-year absence from the governing body.
Lampl, 45, who was a city councilman from 1991 to 1998, won the special election to replace former City Councilman Charles Sorrow with 426 (or 69.6 percent) of the 612 votes cast in the election. Former city Property Manager Jeanell Bridges captured 158 votes (or 25.81 percent of the total votes cast), while retiree James "Jim" Duckworth received 28 votes (or 4.57 percent).
"We have a declared winner, and that is John Lampl," Evyonne Browning, Morrow's city clerk and elections registrar announced, as she read the results in the City Council chambers at Morrow City Hall at 11 p.m., after four hours of ballot counting on Tuesday.
City Manager Jeff Eady said Lampl will be sworn into office at the March 23 City Council meeting, assuming the election results are certified by then. "It's a special election, so he takes office right away," Eady said.
Lampl said he felt "very good" about his election to replace Sorrow, who resigned from office in January because of health concerns. After Lampl's last term on the City Council ended in 1998, he served as Morrow's city manager for 11 and a half years, until last July.
At that time, he said, he became the executive director of the Morrow Downtown Development Authority, a position he held until he qualified last month to run for the City Council seat.
In between calls to his wife, Sinhnhat, and calls to supporters, the city councilman-elect said he will focus on addressing several issues he heard about from Morrow residents during the campaign, including the impact of foreclosures on property values; the availability of jobs in the city; recreation opportunities for children and senior citizens and drainage problems in the city.
"I took very good notes during the campaign," Lampl said. "Overall, the citizens were pleased with the way things are in the city, but they had some concerns we need to work on."
Lampl also said he would like to see the city become more inclusive of the various ethnic groups that live in Morrow. He said he had all of his campaign literature printed in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, to reach more members of the city's population.
"We have a very diverse population, and English is a second language for some of them," he said.
The 612 people who voted in the special election -- out of 2,712 registered voters -- amounted to a 22.56 percent voter turnout. Browning said it was one of the best turnouts the city has seen in years -- if not ever -- for a city election.
"When we opened the door at a quarter of 7 [a.m.], there were already people lined up to come in," Browning said. "This far surpasses anything the city has had in terms of voter turnout. I think we've advertised, and the candidates have canvassed more than once, and I think the weather is a factor as well. It's a real pretty day."
Delford Fink, 73, a Morrow resident for 40 years, said he voted because he saw it as his civic duty. He said he makes it out to participate in as many elections as possible. "I usually make most of them," Fink said. "I didn't know this was a special vote until a couple of weeks ago. I just think it's my duty to vote."
Georgia Tech student, Lindsay Hargis, 19, a resident of Morrow for 14 years, said she came to the polls on Tuesday because she wants to be "an active voter." She also cited growing up in a home where politics was important, and a love for the city, as reasons for participating in the special election.
"My parents are very political and I'm very political as well," Hargis said. "We're more concerned about keeping our city nice. We always have been a community-oriented city ... It's always been a close-knit city. It's always been a place where the elected officials are easily accessible."
Staff writer Joel Hall contributed to this article.