By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — Less than 10 percent of Forest Park voters turned out for Tuesday’s special election for mayor and Ward 1, according to unofficial figures.
There are about 8,000 registered voters and fewer than 800 cast ballots.
According to totals that will be certified Friday, 773 votes were cast for mayor and 185 cast for Ward 1. Tommy Smith got 100 to Kimberly James’ 85 for the ward seat. Smith will be sworn in just prior to the April 1 regular meeting so he can be seated with the rest of Council at 7 p.m.
In the four-person mayor’s race, attorney David Lockhart was the front-runner with 336 votes followed by former Ward 1 Representative Sparkle Adams with 258. Third-place John Finch netted 94 votes and Dabouze Antoine came in fourth with 85. To take the mayor’s seat outright, the winner needed 50 percent of the votes plus one.
Lockhart took the lion’s share of the 53 absentee ballots opened Tuesday night, getting 17, followed by Finch with 16, Adams with 12 and Antoine with 11. Elections Superintendent Darrell Moorer said one absentee ballot came in without an inner envelope and he would wait until the results were certified Friday to determine if it can be included in the count.
Poll manager Joan Burton said 317 voters cast early ballots. Moorer said 111 absentee ballots were sent out but only 53 were returned.
Former Mayor Corine Deyton retired in October with little more than a year left in her term. Deyton had been battling health issues for several months. Adams resigned her Ward 1 seat Feb. 1 to make the run for mayor.
Adams first ran for Council in 2001, losing by a few votes. Adams has also been on the board overseeing the transfer of property ownership of Fort Gillem from the U.S. Army to City of Forest Park before being elected to Council in 2005.
Adams has also been a driving force behind Teen Council. Adams said she is also committed to Keep Forest Park Beautiful and helping city employees provide the best customer service possible when serving residents. She said she is proud of the city’s commitment to providing the best benefits for employees.
Lockhart made an unsuccessful political run in Forest Park several years ago. He and his wife of 15 years have four children. Lockhart said he is a native of Forest Park and still “lives, works and worships” here.
The April 16 runoff election is open to all registered voters in Forest Park, not just the ones who voted Tuesday, said City Manager John Parker.
To hold those seats for the full, four-year term that begins Jan. 1, Smith and the winner of the runoff will have to run again in the regular November election. The Ward 2 seat will also be open in November.
Ward 2 has been vacant since the council ousted member Karen-Brandee Williams for ethics violations in July 2011. Williams has fought the action almost two years. Clayton County Superior Court Chief Judge Deborah Benefield ruled against Williams in January but Williams has appealed the decision, said Parker.
The city has been unable to fill the seat while the case worked its way through the courts but the term ends Dec. 31, making the issue a moot point by election time.
Linda Lord is mayor pro tem, an appointed position that rotates based on senIority. Maudie McCord and Latresa Akins represent the city as Council members. It has been the only all-female municipality board in Clayton County since Don Judson died just before the November 2011 election.