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New Flowery Branch council gets Sterling touch
Newcomers Yardley, Miller, Richards elected to five-member board
Newly elected Flowery Branch City Council members, from left, Kristopher Yardley, Tara Richards and Mike Miller, celebrate their victories Tuesday night. - photo by Tom Reed

Complete election results 

Flowery Branch City Council

Post 3
Stacy Carlson, 101, 24.2 percent
√ Kris Yardley, 415, 75.7 percent

Post 4
√ Mike Miller, 370, 90 percent
Otto Mutzberg II, 41, 10 percent

Post 5
Chris Bozeman, 94, 22.2 percent
Tara Richards: 330, 77.8 percent

What’s next: The new council members will begin their terms Jan. 1. They are set to be sworn in Jan. 6 at City Hall.

FLOWERY BRANCH – Flowery Branch’s biggest subdivision now comprises most of the new City Council.

With Tuesday night’s election, four of the five council members — including two of the newest ones — live in the massive Sterling on the Lake subdivision off Spout Springs Road.

But no matter, said Mike Miller, who defeated Otto Mutzberg II for the Post 4 seat by a margin of 370 to 41 votes.

All the candidates said during their campaigns that downtown development was a concern, he said.

He and Tara Richards, who defeated Chris Bozeman for the Post 5 seat by an also decisive margin of 330 to 94 votes, join councilmen Chris Fetterman and Craig Lutz as the council’s Sterling residents.

In a third race, Kris Yardley defeated Stacy Carlson for the Post 3 seat by a margin of 315 to 101 votes.

All will take office Jan. 1, replacing incumbents Allen Bryans Sr., Pat Zalewski and Mary Jones. They are set to be sworn in Jan. 6, City Clerk Melissa McCain said.

Richards, Miller and Yardley celebrated their victories at Grapes & Hops Bar & Bistro off Hog Mountain Road.

"I’m really excited about serving with this council," Richards said. "We have a very educated and professional group of people."

Miller agreed with her assessment, adding that he believes the new council will "hopefully represent all sides of the city."

Yardley said, "I know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us and I’m looking forward to getting in there on day one and getting things done that we talked about."

Key issues discussed among the candidates before the election included reviving downtown, responsible growth and one housekeeping matter that drew general agreement: more evening meetings. All the council’s meetings now are held in the mornings.

Carlson and Bozeman said that despite losing the election they plan to keep an eye on the city.

"Kris Yardley and I have the same views, and I know he’ll do right by the city," Carlson said. "We are neighbors first and foremost."

Bozeman said he believes voters selected whom they considered as the "best choice for the city and I stand behind them on that."

He added that he hopes the new council turns out "better than what we have had in the past."

Mutzberg, who has never returned phone calls and couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night, added a wrinkle to the council race.

Last month, before a planned candidates forum, city officials said they had received an e-mail from him saying he had planned to withdraw from the race but that his withdrawal wasn’t official until he filed an affidavit.

Mutzberg never did pull out and remained a candidate.

All the new council members are new to public office, even though Yardley has said he chairs a local political group.

Fetterman and Lutz are in the middle of their first four-year terms.

Mayor Diane Hirling, who was elected unopposed Tuesday night, has said she likes the new blood.

"I think it’s a great thing that we have a choice of the six candidates," she said.

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