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Amanda Swafford wins seat on Flowery Branch council

POSTED: September 21, 2010 9:16 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/

Amanda Swafford and Ken Russell talk at Grapes & Hops Bar & Bistro Tuesday evening shortly after Swafford's Flowery Branch City Council election win over Chris Strickland.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — Amanda Swafford won election Tuesday night to the Post 1 seat on the Flowery Branch City Council.

Swafford received 194 votes, or 66.2 percent, while her opponent, Chris Strickland, got 99 votes, or 33.8 percent. Fewer than 10 percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots at City Hall.

Swafford, 34, a litigation manager for a Gainesville law firm, has little time to rest on her laurels. She is set to be sworn in at Thursday’s council meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

She will fill out the unexpired term of Craig Lutz, who resigned in April after two years on the council to run for the South Hall post on the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

“I’m really, really humbled by the turnout,” Swafford said after the election. “I think it was great for a special election. In an unusual time of the year to vote, that was just stellar.

“I’m proud to see that we’ve got citizens who are engaged.”

Strickland said his campaigned worked hard, only to fall short.

“We were out there. Bottom line is she had more of her voters show up than I did,” he said.

Reacting differently to the turnout than his opponent, Strickland said, ”You’ve got 10 percent of the population making the decision for the other 90 percent, and (low voter turnout is) always a scary thought.

“I hope we’ll have a better turnout in our future elections.”

The South Hall city is planning an election Nov. 2 to fill the mayor seat vacated by Diane Hirling, who retired to Florida earlier this year, and a council seat being vacated by Interim Mayor Mike Miller.

Miller has said he plans to resign Monday, the first day of qualifying for those two seats, to run for mayor. Qualifying ends Sept. 29.

For Swafford, Tuesday’s win marks her return to public office. She previously was elected to the Sacramento County (Calif.) land use committee.

She said she is looking forward to bringing more residents into government “by getting some citizen committees going.”

Swafford, gathering with supporters at Grapes & Hops Bar & Bistro on Hog Mountain Road, said she is glad to put an exhaustive campaign behind her and “continue Flowery Branch on its path of progress.”

Strickland, 36, who previously lost in a Georgia House race against Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, said he “plans to take a break from politics.”

“I need to be a father, husband and school teacher,” he said, speaking from his home. “So, I’m done. We’ll reassess later in life — I’m a pretty young guy.”



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