FLOWERY BRANCH — A runoff is set for April 3 between the top two vote-getters in Flowery Branch City Council's special election Tuesday night to fill the Post 3 seat.
Fred Richards claimed the most votes, with 122, followed by Jason Covert, who netted 119 votes. Pat Zalewski received 29 votes.
"We'll just have to try to get people back who voted this time and then some extra," said Richards, speaking from his home in the Madison Creek subdivision.
Covert, who lives in the Sterling on the Lake subdivision on the opposite end of town, said, "I'll just have to continue to meet voters and get to more events ... and do what I can to differentiate between me and Fred."
The April 3 winner will serve out the term started by Kris Yardley on Jan. 1, 2010, and set to end Dec. 31, 2013. Yardley resigned last year to make a run for the state House of Representatives.
Covert, who was out of town Tuesday night, said in a phone interview that he did "appreciate the voters for coming out, and I expect a nice runoff."
Richards said he was equally grateful for support he received and added that he was "thankful it has been a clean campaign on both sides."
Richards, 64, is retired from the real estate and property management business. Covert, 38, is a regional sales manager for Charter Communications.
Zalewski, a former councilwoman hoping to re-enter local politics, took Tuesday night's loss in stride.
"I really didn't campaign," she said, adding that she has been sick lately.
She said she is encouraged by the council that's now in place.
"They really pay attention, listen to each other and respect each other," Zalewski said. "They work as a cohesive team. I hope the runoff winner will continue in that vein."
The council "has been a mess for a long time," she added. "(Members) need to listen to one another and no one needs to come with their own agenda."
Over the years, the council has experienced both internal friction and turnover.
Since just last fall, Yardley and former Councilman Chris Fetterman resigned, leaving two vacancies. Former Councilwoman Mary Jones was the sole qualifier to replace Fetterman, who left his Post 2 seat for a job transfer to Florida.
Jones served with Zalewski on the council last decade. They, along with Allen Bryans Sr., left the council in 2009, choosing not to seek re-election to four-year terms.
Once the Post 3 seat is filled, the council seems to be set until November 2013, when the mayor's seat and Post 3, 4 and 5 seats are up for grabs.