Welch defeats McNabb in Smyrna Runoff Election
Susan Dease Wilkinson and Ron Fennel also were victorious in Wards 5 and 7 respectively.
Update 10:05 p.m.:
Three of the Jonquil City’s four new council members were determined on the overcast and drizzly Tuesday that produced light voter turnout.
The result are unofficial as the Cobb County Board of Elections still has to certify the results.
Welch defeated McNabb, 219-169
Wilkinson defeated Saliba, 143-110.
Fennel defeated Osborne, 436-362.
The seventh councilmember is Melleny Pritchett, who defeated John Miller by three votes in November to retain her Ward 1 council seat.
In November, McNabb captured 48.6 percent of the vote (409 votes) and Welch received 32 percent (272 votes) in the four-candidate race. Last month, 869 out of 3,280 Ward 4 registered voters cast a ballot (26.5 percent). On Tuesday just 388 people from Ward 4 voted.
"I'm humbled and a little surprised,'' said Welch, who garnered more than 56 percent of the vote and who gathered with family and supporters at Zucca Bar & Pizzeria to watch the results come in. "I figured it would be a close race. I look forward to serving the citizens of Smyrna."
In the three-candidate race for Ward 5 last month, Saliba received 40.4 percent (205 votes) to Wilkinson’s 38.6 percent (196 votes) as 19 percent of those registered in Ward 5 voted. On Tuesday, only 253 out of 2,810 registered voted from Ward 5. But like Welch, Wilkinson was able to best her opponent despite after finishing second in the general election.
"I'm excited, and tired,'' said Wilkinson, who like Welch got more than 56 percent of the votes. "I think talking with so many people door-to-door made a difference.
Like Wilkinson, Fennel watched the results come in from the comfort of his own home surrounded by friends and supporters. In the Ward 7 race last month featuring four candidates, Fennel received 39.3 percent (697 votes) to Osborne’s 21.4 percent (380 votes). A total of 1,862 out of 7,323 (25.4 percent) registered voters in Ward 7 voted last month and only 798 did so on Tuesday.
"We felt confident there was solid support for us,'' Fennel said. "I feel honored and humbled that almost 55 percent of the voters that turned out asked me to represent them. Now the hard work really begins."
Smyrna voters were also in favor in November by a 76-24 percent margin, to allow Sunday alcohol sales beginning Jan. 1, 2012.
Today is the runoff election for three seats on Smyrna's City Council.
The two top vote-getters in the Nov. 8 election are on Tuesday's ballot.
In November, McNabb captured 48.6 percent of the vote and Welch received 32 percent in the four-candidate race that also featured Judith Causey Jones and Alex Bretch.
Bretch has since endorsed Welch, but there was some confusion as to whom Jones was endorsing. A story in Monday's Marietta Daily Journal gave the impression that she was supporting Welch. But McNabb read a statement from Jones at Monday's city council meeting that stated otherwise. (Jones could not attend the meeting due to personal reasons)
"I am deeply disappointed to read in today's paper a quote from Ward 4 candidate Welch that I am endorsing him in the runoff election tomorrow,'' wrote Jones. "Nothing could be further from the truth. I have spoken with both candidates in the runoff and I have chosen to support Mr. McNabb. When I spoke with Mr Welch, his focus was on himself, his family and his qualifications. I did not find that Mr. Welch had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish if he were elected. By contrast, when I spoke to Mr. McNabb how focus was on our community with ideas for improving health care in Smyrna, especially for children with special needs. I resolve those who voted for me on Nov. 6, and thank them for supporting me in that race, to vote for Mr. McNabb in the runoff race tomorrow.''
McNabb concluded by saying, "I would just add to that that I too would ask people to return to the polls tomorrow, if you haven't already. Voting is important. This is particularly a time that we look at the vision of the future. We need to pay attention to the things we need to focus on.''
During the citizen's comment portion of the meeting, Welch offered his explanation of the situation.
"First thing, let me clear some confusion regarding Judith Causey Jones. Judy and I met mid-November at a meeting at a Mexican restaurant on Atlanta Road. When I left I had a clear understanding that Judy was supporting me in this race. I knew that until (Sunday) night at 7:30. My statement to the newspaper had been made. I had stated that to the council in mid-November and that's really all I can say. I have done what I could. I just don't want the people of the city of Smyrna to think I was trying to mislead them in any way. Ms. Jones declared to me (Sunday) night on the phone that she would take the fault if there was any, but (Sunday) night at 7:30 was the first time I'd heard anything about that. I'm assuming she and Mr. McNabb met and she changed her mind, which she has full right to do and I have no problem with that.
"Finally, I visited a lot of the people in Ward 4 and made phone calls to a lot more. I've spoken with them and they have expressed their issues, which were accessibility to current councilman and accessibility to the council in general. I told them I would make myself available to each and every one out there. They've also expressed some concerns with the development transitions in Smyrna. And I too am concerned about it. I want good solid growth to come to Smyrna and I think my experience in working with other communities in this field would help the city of Smyrna to do that. And today I ask you to get out and vote tomorrow. It's going to be a nasty, rainy day. Turnouts going to be low. Please come out and vote for me."
In the three-candidate race for Ward 5 last month, Saliba received 40.4 percent of the vote to Wilkinson’s 38.6 percent.
"I just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed meeting and getting to know all the folks in Ward 5,'' said Wilkinson on Monday evening. "I want to encourage everyone to go out and vote tomorrow. I want to say that it would be an honor to serve the citizens of Ward 5 in Smyrna and just vote for me, Susan Wilkinson."
Saliba also addressed Jonquil City voters on Monday night.
"For the last 16 years, friends and neighbors in Ward 5, you've trusted me to protect your children as a felony prosecutor,'' he said. "I want to thank all of you who have welcomed me into your homes and into your yards. I've had a great time getting to know folks and hearing their issues and hearing their comments. I ask all of you to go out and vote tomorrow. And if you didn't vote Nov. 8, if you didn't remember, that's fine, you can still vote tomorrow. Rain or shine, now matter what the weather is, we need everybody to go out there and vote. And I ask everyone give me the privilege and most importantly the responsibility to represent Ward 5 and be your voice in the city council.
In Ward 7, former state representative Ron Fennel received 39.3 percent in November while Campbell High teacher Osborne got 21.4 percent.
One of the two Ward 7 candidates who did not make the runoff, Vic Yankouski, has pledged his support for Osborne.
“I believe that (Osborne) will represent the citizens well because he is a long-term resident of Smyrna and has seen the growth and change in the city,’’ said Yankouski. “Some of the changes have been for the better; some appear to have lacked the planning and foresight necessary for success. I believe that Mr. Osborne is honest and sincere in his desire to work on issues important to Smyrna residents; he will listen to citizens and give them a voice on the city council.’’