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Smith elected to Gainesville school board
Lutz, Fetterman elected in Flowery Branch
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Few contested races on the ballots resulted in light turnout for Tuesday’s elections across Hall County in an off-cycle election year.

With most races uncontested, the highest turnout was in Flowery Branch, at around 21 percent. Turnout in Gainesville was below 4 percent for the City Council and school board races there.

Only five races were contested across Hall County, in addition to a ballot measure in Braselton concerning creation of a tax allocation district.

All election results are final, but will not be official until certified by the Hall County Elections and Voter Registration office, which is expected either Thursday or Friday.

Winners in most races will take office in January, but some will be sworn in before the end of the year.

Smith beats Oliver in Gainesville school board race

Public relations firm owner Sammy Smith defeated Eric Oliver on Tuesday night in his bid for the Ward 5 Gainesville City Board of Education seat.

In a contest of political newcomers, Smith won 124, or 56 percent, of the 220 votes cast in the race. Oliver had 96 votes, or 44 percent.

Smith will replace Frank Harben, who is stepping down after two four-year terms, on Jan. 1. The job pays $450 per month.

Smith, 54, owner of Rainmaker & Associates, said he was honored by those who voted for him and he praised Oliver and his wife, Jammie, for their "very, very fine campaign."

"I’m very grateful particularly to my family, my neighbors, my church family, my classmates, my friends," he said.

Oliver, 38, said that "being the parent of two (school-age) children, I still get to be involved in the school system ... being in the schools, reading in my kid’s class, being in the PTA, going to all the functions and still affecting the education of my kids and some of the other kids in the school system."

His daughter, Sloan, 9, and son, Sam, 6, are students at Centennial Arts Academy.

Oliver added that he wished "the best of luck" to Smith.

"I live six houses down the street from my new board member, so I know where to go in case I got a concern for the school system," said Oliver, who works in the customer service department at Turbo Logistics.

Smith said that before he takes office, "there’s much study to be done, not only in terms of mechanics, structure, the way the board ... can function smoothly, but the issues that are confronting the school board. I’ll be out, as I have been as a candidate, in the community listening to taxpayers."

There were two other seats up for grabs on the school board this year, but both ended up being uncontested.

Willie Mitchell, who has served as an appointed or elected member since 1990, will continue to represent Ward 3. And Maria Calkins will represent Ward 2, replacing outgoing board member and current Chairwoman Lee Highsmith.

According to election results, the city has 9,587 registered voters. There were 360 votes cast, or 3.76 percent.

By Jeff Gill

Lutz and Fetterman win in Flowery Branch

There will be two new faces on the Flowery Branch City Council. Craig Lutz won the race for Post 1 and Chris Fetterman landed Post 2.

Craig Lutz defeated incumbent Jim Herold in a 250 to 121 vote, while Chris Fetterman defeated Kellin Dobbs in a 222 to 157 vote.

Both new council members are Sterling on the Lake residents with two children.

"I got the number in — 250 votes — and I am so humbled that that many people want me to represent them on the city council," Lutz said.

With about 1,900 registered voters in Flowery Branch, nearly 21 percent of voters turned out to cast their ballots for one or both of the races, Mayor Diane Hirling said.

"I was really surprised," Hirling said. "They came in steady all day."

Fetterman said that he was a little apprehensive about participating in his first election, but was happy to win.

"I’m going to enjoy my family for a couple of weeks first, then I’ll start digging into a few things," Fetterman said.

Lutz said that he was also looking forward to spending time with his family after the election.

"Now that I’ve won, the first thing on my platform was to improve the communication between the citizens of Flowery Branch and their government and I certainly hope to be right in the middle of that, facilitating that communication process," Lutz said.

Fetterman said that he has a lot of background research to do before he and Lutz take office on Jan. 1.

"As a first-time councilman, I have got a lot of catching up to do on what’s currently going on with some of the current issues and I’m going to have to get involved with the mayor and get caught up to speed, of course," he said.

Both candidates said that they aim to develop Flowery Branch in moderation during their next four years on the city council.

"We definitely have a lot of growth coming into Flowery Branch, and we definitely have to find a way to make the growth happen responsibly," Fetterman said. "We have to worry about transportation issues because of Spout Springs Road with all the development there, and ensure that we grow Flowery Branch the right way so that we can attract the people who want to come to Flowery Branch and enjoy the city."

The two new council members will be the first Sterling on the Lake residents to serve on the city council, and will face issues involving the distribution of the recently voter approved tax allocation district, sewer system issues, development issues and the redevelopment of the historic downtown Flowery Branch.

"I believe that we need to focus on our infrastructure, making sure that our developers don’t outpace the infrastructure of the city," Lutz said. "The infrastructure needs to be there before the development."

By Jessica Jordan

Two incumbents re-elected in Clermont

Two incumbents and one political newcomer were elected to the Clermont City Council on Tuesday.

Incumbents John Brady and Seth Weaver, along with Albert Reeves, will take office in January.

Emily Harper, Clermont events coordinator, also ran for one of the three vacant council seats.

Clermont City Clerk Sandra Helton said that 12 percent of Clermont’s registered voters turned out for the election.

Brady received 46 votes, Weaver had 43, Reeves had 27 and Harper received 23 votes, according to Helton.

"I’m pleased with the way it turned out," said Weaver, 27, a four-year city council member who works in materials at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. "I appreciate the people that voted for me."

Reeves, 24, a self-employed Clermont native, said he was "surprised and happy" to hear that he had won a spot on the council.

He said he is most looking forward to "serving the city."

Harper could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Brady, 59, a native of Hall County, has lived in Clermont for about eight years. This is his second term on the council, and before that he served as the town’s mayor for three years.

"I’m very proud to be able to do that again," he said. "There’s a lot of work to be done and I’m just ready."

Brady has said several roads in the town need to be redone; the county library needs renovations and the construction of an outdoor amphitheater is also in the works.

Weaver wants to concentrate on managing the growth in Clermont in a way that will be positive for the town.

"I’m looking forward to another four years," he said.

By Ashley Cox

Kenerly defeats Keinard in Hoschton, Braselton voters approve TAD

Theresa Kenerly defeated incumbent James Keinard for the Post 6 Hoschton council seat, Tuesday’s only contested local election.

The three-year Hoschton resident won 140 to 41, according to City Clerk Cindy Edge.

"I’m just on top of the world," Kenerly said after receiving the results Tuesday evening.

Bringing new revenue into the city is Kenerly’s top priority upon being sworn in Dec. 3. Generating new business is the best way to do it, she said.

"I want us to use Hoschton money in Hoschton," Kenerly said.

Keinard said that during the four years he was on council, restrictions and zoning districts were created that put the city in a position to control future growth.

"I wanted to ensure that when growth did come to Hoschton, that it was controlled, that we wanted the type of growth that fit in with the city, that it complimented the city, and we just did not want a bunch of houses," Keinard said Tuesday evening.

Plans to run sewer into the industrial area on the southern side of Hoschton also will help the city grow in a positive direction, Keinard said, though the aging pipes already in the ground will be a hard expense for the future council. Keinard said he plans to stay in politics, if not in Hoschton.

Richard Shepherd, who ran unopposed, was elected to the Post 4 Hoschton council seat with 142 votes. Tom Walden was elected to Post 5 with 149 votes.

On Tuesday in Braselton, the few voters who turned out for the election gave a resounding "yes" to a Tax Allocation District that would help revitalize downtown. Town Manager Jennifer Scott reported that 144 voted "yes" and 37 voted "no" to give the town redevelopment powers to improve economic and social conditions downtown.

"We’re very glad that the voters share our vision for downtown Braselton," Mayor Pat Graham said Tuesday evening.

Essentially, redevelopment powers mean that the town can use a portion of sales taxes collected in the downtown district to make it a more inviting place for businesses and residents to come.

Braselton has a "town green" on the drawing board that would turn the area in front of Braselton Bros. Store into a gathering place, surrounded by shops and restaurants. The plan would depend on the state rerouting Ga. 124 from its current location.

Now that the town has convinced the voters, Braselton must convince the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education to give up a portion of the sales tax in the district for revitalization. Graham said the next step is to meet with Jackson County officials to explain the town’s plans for the area and ask for their participation.

Though not on the ballot because they ran unopposed, Tony Funari will take the District 3 post in 2008 while incumbent Richard Mayberry will keep the District 1 seat.

By Nikki Young