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Clayton municipalities elect their leaders

Joy Day upsets Maddox in Jonesboro

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Lovejoy resident, Levon Pumphrey, casts his vote in the Municipal Court at the Joe Murphy Public Safety Building in Lovejoy.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz Lovejoy resident, Levon Pumphrey, casts his vote in the Municipal Court at the Joe Murphy Public Safety Building in Lovejoy.

Former Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day took back the mayoral office she lost four years ago, on Tuesday, with a commanding victory over incumbent Mayor Luther Maddox and political newcomer, John Templeman.

Day earned 193 votes, followed by Maddox, who received 95 votes, and Templeman, who got 72 votes . Day was previously mayor, from 1995, until she was defeated by Maddox in 2007.

“I’m excited about the results,” she said. “I’m hoping we can do some great things in the City of Jonesboro, and I feel humbled that the voters elected me as mayor.”

Day said she feels a responsibility to do a good job as mayor, in part because of the margin of her victory. She outlined a list of projects she wants to tackle immediately upon taking office, including working on getting state certified local government status for the city, and having a financial analysis conducted on the city, in time to have the results released publicly in February.

In the city council race, voters re-elected incumbent City Council members Wallace Norrington and Bobby Wiggins, as well as newcomer, Randy Segner.

Wiggins led the field of council candidates with 134 votes, followed by Norrington with 133 votes and Segner with 130 votes. Former City Council member Billy Powell came in fourth place with 104 votes, followed by Jack Bruce (98 votes); former City Council member Rick Yonce (85 votes); Wayne Day (80 votes, not related to Joy Day); Suzanne Igler (77 votes), and incumbent City Council member Roger Grider (75 votes). The top three vote-getters were to take the three, at-large seats.

Wiggins and Norrington said they were “glad” to be re-elected, and “appreciated” the voters voting for them. Wiggins said he wants to immediately focus on healing divisions in the city, and then work to attract new businesses. Norrington said the city’s 2012 budget is the big issue that has to be addressed immediately.

Morrow mayoral race “too-close-to-call”

The City of Morrow remains without a clear idea of who its next mayor will be. “It’s too-close-to-call,” said City Manager Jeff Eady.

Morrow City Clerk Evyonne Browning said she could not release the results of the city’s mayoral election, on the advice of City Attorney Laurel Henderson, until provisional ballots are counted, because candidates Joseph “J.B.” Burke and Jeffrey Allen DeTar were extremely close in vote totals.

Eady said even he cannot find out how many votes were cast for each candidate, or the number of provisional ballots that have to be counted, because of Henderson’s advice to Browning. He did say, however, that he has been told by city election officials that the vote totals were close enough that “if all of the provisional ballots are counted, it would change the outcome of the election.”

Eady said the people who cast provisional ballots will have three business days to provide the city with proof that they were eligible to vote in the election. He said that because the city will be closed Friday in observance of Veteran’s Day, the third business day will be Monday, Nov. 14. The city manager added that does not necessarily mean the results will definitely not be finalized until Monday, though.

He said the results could be released sooner, depending on when all of the provisional ballots are resolved.

Forest Park’s Lord re-elected, Akins wins Ward 4

Forest Park Ward 5 incumbent Linda Lord was returned to office Tuesday night while residents of Ward 4 ushered in a new face on the City Council.

Lord, 67, beat opponent Warren Gerton, 328-245, with the bulk of Gerton’s votes cast through absentee ballots. Only 57 of Gerton supporters voted at the polls Tuesday, with 188 votes coming in ahead of election day.

Conversely, Lord garnered three absentee votes, but 325 cast Tuesday. This is Lord’s first re-election bid. “I am so overwhelmed and tickled,” she said, after learning of the results. “I am so proud of the citizens of Forest Park.”

Only five votes separated Ward 4 winner Latresa S. Akins (129 votes) from challenger Lillian Holloway (124 votes). At 28, Akins, a married mother of two, will be the youngest member of Forest Park City Council. This is her first elected office, and she has not attended any City Council meetings. She said she suffered because of the lousy economy and is trying to rebound. “I’ve been in Forest Park all my life,” she said. “I just got a new job in the middle of my campaign, so I understand fully the ups and downs of life. I know what it’s like to not have a job.”

Akins wants to see the city address public transportation and more jobs.

Ward 4 incumbent Don Judson, 80, died suddenly early Friday morning. He served 12 years in office and was already on Tuesday’s ballot for re-election. Under the law, voters who cast early ballots for Judson were not able to re-cast for one of his challengers. Any votes cast Tuesday for Judson were not counted.

City Manager John Parker said the Council could vote to allow Akins to immediately begin serving, or wait until all candidates are sworn in, in January.

Ward 3 incumbent Maudie McCord, 68, ran unopposed in her first re-election bid.

Lovejoy’s Green squeaks by in close election

It was a tight race for the Lovejoy Council Post 1 seat, but Tommy Green, III, came out the victor by three votes. Registered voters gave Green 157 votes, compared to the 154 votes given to opponent LaToshia Gray, said Lovejoy Poll Manager Billy Williams. “I feel awesome,” added Green. “I feel so blessed to have been able to succeed again in this race.”

Green said this will be his second term as a councilman, and he thanked God for his win. He said he is looking beyond the race and focusing on building the city and making its government the most ethical in Clayton County. “I really want to work and restore accountability ... and faith in the government,” he added.

College Park’s Longino, Wyatt win in landslides

There were only two College Park incumbents with opposition on Tuesday, and they won easily. Mayor Jack Longino and Ward 3 Councilman Tracey Wyatt retained their seats. City Clerk Lakeitha Reeves said there were 769 votes for Longino and 312 for his opponent, Roderick Gay. She said Wyatt won with 174 votes, compared to Wesley Meadows’ 34 votes. Incumbent Ward 1 City Councilman Ambrose W. Clay ran unopposed for re-election.

“I would say I am honored the community has elected me as mayor five times in a row,” Longino said. “I am going to enjoy moving College Park in a forward direction, as we have in the past 20 years.”

Longino, who said he was “humbled” by his victory, added there are few politicians that have been able to serve their city for two decades, as he has. Before he became mayor in 1996, he was a Ward 1 city councilman. The mayor said one of his top priorities is to properly manage the city’s budget. “I would like to see us be more diligent, and I believe we will continue to be,” he said, adding that another goal is to continue to attract development, and overcome a shrinking tax digest.

Ward 3 Councilman Wyatt said he felt great about the results and congratulated his opponent on a well-run campaign. “I felt pretty good,” he said, “the margin of victory speaks for itself.”

Wyatt, who won by 140 votes, said he wants to continue to work on economic development, and fight crime. He said the Georgia International Convention Center and the portion of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that lies within the city’s limits are stepping stones for making College Park a “go-to” city.

Lake City incumbents easily win re-election

Lake City voters rejected calls for change in the city’s government on Tuesday, and opted for stability by returning two longtime city councilmen to their offices for another four years. Incumbent City Councilmen Bobby Williams and Dwight Ginn were re-elected in convincing fashion, over challengers Raymond O. Johnson and Aric Walker.

Ginn, who has been on the city council for eight years, led the field of council candidates with 129 votes, while Williams, who said he will be entering his fifth term in office, earned 121 votes. Johnson received 66 votes and Walker got 64 votes. The two, at-large city council seats on this year’s ballot were to go to the top two vote-getters. “I’m glad to receive the voters’ support, and I’m looking forward to serving the people of Lake City for another four years,” said Williams. He added that the first issue that will need to be dealt with over the next four years is getting a clubhouse built at the city’s recently opened Willie R. Oswalt Nature Preserve Park.

“It feels good to be re-elected,” said Ginn, who wants to tackle attracting new businesses to the Jonesboro Road corridor first. “I enjoy it [serving on the city council] in this city.” Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, who was also up for re-election this year, ran unopposed and, therefore, automatically earned another term in office.

Unopposed Riverdale candidates cruise to victory

There were no surprises in Tuesday’s municipal election in Riverdale, since all of the candidates were running without opposition. Incumbent Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon is looking forward to finishing some projects already started and strengthening her bond with the citizens.

“I want to take Riverdale to even higher heights, by bringing in more jobs and more businesses,” she said. She added that her top priorities are to complete the city’s regional park, bring in hotels, and senior living facilities. “We want [Riverdale] to be a place where people want to live,” she said, adding that she will maintain an open-door policy with residents. “I truly love my citizens.”

Kenny Ruffin, will enter his third term as the city councilman in Ward 4. He said his goals are to continue to increase economic development, and initiate sports programs for the city’s youths, while increasing citizen awareness and involvement.

An’Cel Davis, a political newcomer, was assured of election to the city council’s Ward 2 seat, because his opponent, Incumbent Councilman Wayne Hall, died unexpectedly last month. Davis will get an early start since council members voted Monday night for him to finish the remainder of Hall’s term.

“This will give me a chance to hit the ground running,” he said, “and get the on-the-job training before my official swearing in January.” He added that his goals for the city are establishing a strong partnership with the Clayton County School System and providing more recreational activities and programs for youths.

–– Staff writers Kathy Jefcoats, Jeylin White and M.J. Subiria Arauz contributed to this article.