DeKalb County voters passed a school tax that could generate $645 million for the school systems of DeKalb County, Decatur and Atlanta on Nov. 8. Also passing in many cities was the right for stores to sell alcohol on Sunday.
In addition, voters in Avondale Estates and Lithonia selected mayors. There will be runoffs for mayor in both Doraville and Dunwoody. The vote will not be made official until later in the week.
The one percent SPLOST sales tax, which kicks in on July 1, 2012, passed with approximately 62 percent voting yes.
“We’re excited about the vote. This is a good day for the county. We knew we had taken steps to improve transparency and the huge margin is a testimonial to that. When you look at the accountability with new auditors, new legal procedures and a new oversight committee in place, those are the things that made the difference,” DeKalb School Board Chairman Tom Bowen said of the results.
In Avondale Estates, voters re-elected incumbent Mayor Edward Rieker who was running against mayor pro tempore David Milliron. Rieker received 51 percent of the vote to Milliron’s 48 percent.
In Lithonia, where four candidates were running for mayor, former councilmember Deborah Jackson is the new mayor defeating incumbent mayor Tonya Peterson Anderson. Jackson received 45 percent while Anderson received 25 percent of the votes. City councilwoman Doreen Carter and former councilmember Al Franklin received 13 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
Jackson said she is “very excited about the opportunity as well as the challenge.”
Her past experience as a consultant, city attorney, councilmember and resident of Lithonia will help her “bring some stability to the city,” Jackson said.
Jackson said her priorities will be to raise employee morale and “to bring resources to the city to make things happen.”
Four new members will be joining the Lithonia City Council: Darold Honore, Pat Miller, Tracy-Ann Williams and Shameka Reynolds.
With 46 percent of the vote, current Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman will have to face retired chemist Tom Hart in a run-off. Hart received 31 percent of the vote. Pittman has been Doraville’s mayor since winning a special election in July held to fill the remaining term of former mayor Ray Jenkins who died in February.
For Pittman the campaign for the run-off race will be her fourth in the past six months.
“I’m going to have a positive campaign and continue to move the city forward,” Pittman said. “We’ve done a lot of good things and I think the people will continue to recognize that.”
The other mayoral candidate, Lou Ella Jenkins, widow of the city’s former mayor, received 21 percent.
For the contested council seats, incumbent Pam Fleming retains her seat and two other seats will go to runoffs.
Of the three candidates vying to be Dunwoody’s second mayor, no one received a majority of the votes. Attorney Bob Dallas received 43 percent of the vote, and will have to face businessman Mike Davis, who received 39 percent in a run-off. Gordon Jackson, a former president of the Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association, received 18 percent.
“I’m certainly pleased that the majority of the voters approved what my conversation was and voted for me,” Dallas said. “It’s very heartening. I look forward to more conversations about the future of Dunwoody. I believe the best days are ahead of us.”
Dallas said his two decades of public service is “borne out of a deep desire to improve the county in which I live. The other candidates have no experience in non-profits and how to manage a government entity.”
Residents of each city within DeKalb County also voted whether to allow alcohol to be sold by retailers between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Sundays. The referendum passed in all of the county’s cities, the closest being in Lithonia where it passed with approximately 59 percent.
Voters in Doraville passed a binding referendum that will change its form of government. The close vote—50.47 percent voting yes and 49.53 voting no—will change the city’s government to one with a part-time mayor and a full-time city manager.
Doraville voters also passed a homestead exemption referendum, which provides a tax exemption for municipal purposes in the amount of $25,000 of the assessed value of the homestead of residents and repealed prior exemptions.
In Doraville voters also passed a redevelopment referendum that will allow the city to execute redevelopment powers under the “Redevelopment Powers Law,” which gives the city the authority to sell bonds to finance infrastructure and other redevelopment costs. A similar referendum was also passed by Dunwoody voters by approximately 54 percent to 45 percent.
Approximately 60 percent of Dunwoody voters said no to a referendum to allow the city to acquire new green space for parks through the issuance of $33 million of general obligation bonds as well as on a parks improvement bond.
In Decatur, where the mayor is selected by the city commission, Mayor Bill Floyd ran unopposed for his city commission seat. Incumbents Jim Baskett and Kecia Cunningham were also the lone candidates for their commission seats and incumbent Julie Rhame had no competition for her city board of education post.
The only contest election in Decatur was for the city board of education District 1 Post B seat won by Garrett Goebel with 64 percent of the vote over Peg Bumgardner with 36 percent.
Clarkston voters elected Jean Brown, Dianne Leonetti and Warren Hadlock to fill three city council seats. In Stone Mountain, incumbents Richard Mailman and Chakira Sallee, both ran unopposed while Cyril Mungal and Denise Glenn will be in a runoff for the Post 2 seat.