Andy Bauman, Cynthia Briscoe Brown and Jason Esteves won the three local races in Tuesday’s nonpartisan city runoff elections in Buckhead and Sandy Springs.
With all six precincts reporting according to the Fulton County Elections website, Bauman won the District 6 Sandy Springs City Council post. Bauman had 63.32 percent to defeat John Stoj, who had 36.68 percent. Incumbent Karen Meinzen McEnerny is not seeking re-election.
“I’m very excited about the results,” Bauman said. “I’m very gratified to have won. After a very long campaign, I’m very excited and honored that the citizens of the sixth district elected me. … It’s a great feeling but I look forward to the important work of our district in the next four years.”
“I think all along, running a positive, focused and issues-oriented campaign was the difference in both the general election and the runoff. I also think a legitimate record of accomplishments made a difference. People came out and voted based on my record. I also saw myself as an independent voice of reason that can represent many people on the city council and that’s how I was able to receive the majority of the votes.”
Stoj said he was disappointed with the result but pleased with the campaign.
“We put a lot of work into the race, and l had a lot of support from really great people,” he said. “Runoffs are really challenging but the town will end up with a good councilman.
“I would say it was a fascinating and enlightening process and it really makes you want to get more involved with the community as you see how you can make a difference.”
Both candidates said they had hoped to see more residents hit the polls.
“The voter turnout, given the fact that it was a runoff and the weather was pretty bad, it was better than expected,” Bauman said. “I do recognize that not everybody voted for me and not everybody voted. In this district there are 16,000 people, and I have a solemn obligation to do my best to represent everyone, not just those who voted for me.”
Said Stoj, “You always want to see more turnout but we did our best to get our people out there.”
The other two local elections were for at-large seats on the Atlanta Board of Education.
In the Seat 8 at-large race, with all 177 precincts reporting, Brown had 65.86 percent of the vote against incumbent Reuben McDaniel III, who had 34.14 percent.
“I’m thrilled, of course, very pleased and humbled by the number of people across the city who shared the vision for a better Atlanta Public Schools," Brown said. "This was a true grassroots campaign, and I think the key was building relationships across the city and really working together in community for the good of every child and our city as a whole. I am particularly pleased that the message beat money and politics.
“Three of my opponents raised significantly more money and I think that’s because my donors, my supporters are parents and teachers and cafeteria workers and bus drivers and people who care about our kids instead of about power.”
Brown thanked her "thousands" of supporters but said she had hoped voter turnout was higher.
“I appreciate everybody who did come out to vote," she said. "I wish more people had voted because I’m a huge believer in participating in our democratic process. But again, I’m gratified that so many people understood what we’re trying to do and wanted to see that happen.”
McDaniel's cell phone voicemail inbox was full, and he did not immediately return a page to that number.
In the Seat 9 at-large election, with all 177 precincts reporting, Esteves won with 71.46 percent against Lori James, who had 28.54 percent. Incumbent Emmett Johnson is not seeking re-election.
“It feels great, but it’s also pretty sobering because we have challenges we have to meet,” Esteves said of the victory. “The real hard works starts now. … I’m looking forward to tackling the challenges APS faces with my colleagues on the new school board.”
Of the turnout, he said, “It was pretty low, but I don’t think it was too far out of line with what’s the average for a runoff. Of course I would have loved to seen more people come out for this important school board election but the people who did come out, 16,000 voters, was nevertheless appreciated. As we move forward as a school board and continue to raise the school system’s profile, more people will be invested and turnout will be higher in future years.”
Fulton County Registration and Elections Director Richard Barron, who predicted turnout to be less than 10 percent countywide in the runoff, Thursday said only 22,411 Fulton residents cast ballots, or 7.13 percent. In the Nov. 5 general election, Fulton’s turnout was 17.36 percent.
“Considering the way Georgia calculates its turnout, which neglects to include inactive voters, that inflates the turnout numbers,” Barron said of the runoff. “This [turnout] is in line with municipal runoffs in other states. It’s a poor turnout but I guess it’s expected.”
When asked if Fulton experienced any problems at its polls, he said, “I’m unaware of anything that happened that would have been considered a major one. There may have been some minor things that happened, but they would have been solved [at each precinct] because they never made it up to me.”
As the polls closed Tuesday, judging by the number of voters at three voting precincts, turnout was mixed.
At Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead, Poll Manager John Packman said 146 residents had voted as of 7:35 p.m. The precinct has about 1,500 registered voters, and only one as voting at that time. Packman called the turnout “light.”
“8 percent is an estimate,” he said. “I wish [more] people were voting.”
At the Chastain Park gym in Buckhead, Poll Manager Sonia Perryman said 180 residents had voted as of 1:56 p.m., with six more casting provisional ballots. Only one person was voting at that time.
“It’s been pretty good so far,” said Perryman, who did not know how many registered voters her precinct had. “It looks like we have gotten the most people [voting] in the area. I’m hoping for the most.”
At High Point Elementary School in Sandy Springs, Poll Manager Nate Bednar said only 15 residents had voted as of 9:50 a.m. The precinct has about 4,000 registered voters, he said, but no one was voting when a reporter went to the polling place.
When asked how voter turnout was thus far, Bednar said, “very slow. We need more to vote. Come out and vote.
“Normally by this time we would have about 150 to 200 [voting].”