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One incumbent in, another out in Flowery Branch
Voters elect Fetterman, chose newcomer over Swafford
Damon Gibbs, center, celebrates with family and friends at his Flowery Branch home Tuesday evening as results trickle in during Gibbs' Flowery Branch City Council win over Amanda Swafford. From the left they are wife Stefanie Gibbs, daughter Kylie, family friend Ansley Johnson, far right, and Carrianne Johnson. Gibbs defeated Amanda Swafford for the Flowery Branch City Council Post 1 election.

FLOWERY BRANCH — One of two Flowery Branch City Council members survived Tuesday night's election to serve a new term.

Councilman Chris Fetterman retained his Post 2 seat by defeating challenger Mary Jones, a former city councilwoman, by a 303-205 vote.

Damon Gibbs, director of facilities for Hall County schools, defeated incumbent Councilwoman Amanda Swafford by a 291-214 vote for the Post 1 seat.

Gibbs, a political newcomer, will take office Jan. 1. Fetterman will begin his second four-year term that day.

"I'm proud to be able to serve another four years," said Fetterman, celebrating his victory at Bottom of the Cup Golf Bar & Grill in Braselton. "It's a testament of what I've done over the last four years."

He said he plans to continue to be vigilant about taxpayer dollars.

"I want to make sure we don't spend them frivolously. We're not out of the problems going on in Hall County with tax assessments on homes."

Gibbs, gathering with supporters at his home, said voters have spoken with his election.

"They want the council to stop bickering and do the work of the citizens of Flowery Branch," he said. "I feel like I'm ready to do that."

Gibbs said he wants to bring a "balanced leadership approach to the council ... and help bridge some of the gaps that have been there."

The city has struggled with friction over issues, including recent indecision over whether to charge for streetlights and when to set candidate qualifying for the March 6 special election to fill a vacant council seat.

Turnover has been high in recent years as well.

Jones was part of three council members who left at the end of 2009, choosing not to seek re-election.

She said Tuesday night jumping back into the political game was a fun experience, something she didn't regret, despite losing.

"I had a great time doing it. I hope I made some new friends," she said. "... I have no ill feelings, none whatsoever."

Swafford has served since September 2010, taking over for Craig Lutz, who quit to run for - and eventually won - the South Hall seat on the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

"I'm happy with the voters the decision the voters have made," she said. "I'm looking at other opportunities that may present themselves (where) I can use the different skills I have, and hopefully turn that into something productive."

With Tuesday's elections, the council will have four members and a mayor, Mike Miller, until the March 6 election.

Qualifying has take place for the office and the candidates are Jason Covert, Fred Richards and Pat Zalewski.