In a contentious election year almost anything can be expected when voters turn out to the polls. In this case, 4,716 total votes were cast in the municipal elections; 9,657 cast in the countywide election.
In Peachtree City, voters were deciding on three council posts and the mayoral position. By 9:45 p.m., with 14 precincts reporting, results show candidates, Vanessa Fleisch (1849) at 39.1 percent and Harold Logsdon (1,291) at 27.37 percent, the highest vote gatherers in the five way election. The two will face off in a December 3rd run-off.
Former city councilman George Dienhart hauled in 20.21 percent of the vote with 957 votes; political newcomer Ryan Jolly ranked in at 7.65 percent - 361 votes- and incumbent mayor Don Haddix slipped into last place with 238 votes - or 5.05 percent of the count.
“Congratulations to Vanessa and Harold. The election is not over and it is down to the runoff in December,” said Haddix. “Congratulations to the council posts winners. Thanks to all who have voted for me. Having served for six years on council has been an honor.”
Council Post 3 incumbent Kim Learnard at 3,824 votes looks to be holding on to her seat with 85.74 percent of the ballots cast; challenger Cathy Haddix, wife of incumbent mayor Don Haddix, received 588 votes or 13.18 percent.
“It has been an honor to serve Peachtree City citizens for the last four years and I can’t wait for the next four! Peachtree City, our best years are straight ahead. Thank you for the privilege,” said Learnard.
“I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support of my campaign. Congratulations to all the candidates who won.”
The race was closer for city council post 4 the seat Fleisch left open when she opted to run for the mayoral post as opposed to reelection. Former Peachtree City police officer Terry Ernst garnered some 2,73 votes (65.12 percent) while Stephanie Franz boasted 1,467 votes (34.57 percent). Both are political newbies.
“Congratulations to Mr. Terry Ernst. I am sure he will continue to serve the citizens as he has over the last 20 years. This has been an interesting and informative learning experience for which I am very grateful. Thank you to all of you who supported me and voted for me,” said Franz.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Peachtree City for allowing me the honor to serve on the City Council. I promise to serve with honor and integrity to preserve our way of life in Peachtree City. A very special thank you to those individuals (too numerous to name) who helped me through this election process.”
The Post two council seat left open when Dienhart opted to step down before his term was complete saw three-way competition in a special election. The winner of this seat will be immediately installed to the position, not waiting until January to take office. Mike King struck a commanding lead with 2,915 votes, some 70.43 percent of the vote; Austin Chanslor received 8.24 percent of the vote, with 341 ballots; and Shayne Robinson, current chair of the Peachtree City Recreation Commission, received 20.90 percent or 865 votes.
“Even though I was not elected this year, I will be trying again in two years when Post 2 comes up for re-election again. This was a good learning experience for me, I have high hopes for our city and I hope that the new council members and mayor do their best to do what's right for every citizen of Peachtree City," said Chanslor.
Robinson commented “Thank you so much for your support, encouragement, and laughter in my journey to election day. Win or lose, I have had the best time meeting new people, getting fresh ideas and interacting with the other candidates. A special shout out to Rotary, Kiwanis, Fayette Chamber of Commerce and the Fayette Womens’ Republic Party for going the extra mile to give all of us a great platform to enhance our message to voters.
I will always stay actively involved in our community, ensuring that we stay the best place in the world to call home. “
In the Tyrone election, Pota Coston lost to incumbent councilman Ken Matthews by the slimmest of margins, 653 votes to 659. Councilmember Gloria Furr slid in unopposed.
Both Brooks and Fayetteville negated elections when no challengers stepped up to run against incumbents or, in the case of Fayetteville, seats left vacant by outgoing councilmembers. In Woolsey, though there was no competition for the positions of mayor or councilman (longtime incumbents Gary Laggis and Jack Gilson, respectively) there was a run referendum question to authorize Sunday sales of alcohol. In the last election cycle, the question drew a perfect 20-20 tie; this year, with votes cast totalling 28, the referendum lost by a narrow margin of 12 votes to 16.
What had to be one of the most controversial referendums in recent years was the question of whether voters wanted to impose “a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in the special district of Fayette County for a period of time not to exceed two years and for the raising of an estimated amount of $41,245,988 for the purpose of financing the following capital outlay projects for the purpose of financing the following capital outlay projects for the use and benefit of Fayette County and qualified municipalities within Fayette County:
(a) Capital outlay projects consisting of road, street, and bridge purposes, which purposes may include sidewalks, bicycle paths, and multi-use paths;
(b) Capital outlay projects pertaining to library renovation/expansion;
(c) Capital outlay projects consisting of recreational facilities;
(d) Water capital outlay projects, sewer capital outlay projects and stormwater capital outlay projects; and
(e) Capital outlay projects consisting of public safety facilities.”
Apparently, the answer was no, since the question was defeated 5,522 votes-57.18 percent- to 4,135 votes - 42.82 percent.
County commissioners were relying heavily on the Core Infrastructure SPLOST, with a two year sunset clause, to pass to find funding to repair and maintain the county’s aging stormwater infrastructure.
Fayette County has reached the point where the early stormwater structures installed throughout the unincorporated county are decades old and now need replacement. There were no funds set aside reliably over time to cover the costs of replacing deteriorating infrastructure.
The concept of the SPLOST developed during a series of town hall meetings held when residents in the unincorporated county received bills from a Stormwater Utility they didn’t know the county had.
Commissioners noted that, even at a conservative estimate, the county was looking at some $15 million or more in repairs to the county’s antiquated infrastructure as a result of crumbling pipes, severely stressed dams and blocked drainage ditches that flooded roads and homes. Three of the county’s major dams are so bad that they are failing state and federal guidelines and the county is mandated to repair them.
Public hearings were held after the idea of the SPLOST was proposed and the commission took questions from the public, answering them in both local newspapers, as well as listing the answers -and the proposed project list- on the county website. Additionally, each municipality agreed to participate in the SPLOST, dedicating their portions of the funds to local projects, like roads, or library improvements or stormwater matters. A countywide stormwater fee was negated because both Peachtree City and Fayetteville have their own stormwater utilities and, constitutionally, the county was unable to impose another tax for stormwater projects.
“Whether it passes or not,” said county commission chairman Steve Brown said on Tuesday afternoon “these projects have to get done. We’re not talking about building more projects. We’re talking about fixing what’s in the ground now. Whether we do it by a SPLOST or not, those things have to be fixed. If it doesn’t pass, then we’re going to have to figure out another way to do it, but it must be done.”
The other county referendum, which concerned Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink passed, 5,731 votes to 2,969.
All elections results are not finalized until validated by the Secretary of State’s office.