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December 11, 2013JOHNS CREEK, Ga. Political newcomer Cori Davenport has defeated Councilwoman Karen Richardson in the Dec. 3 runoff for Post 3, outpolling the incumbent by a two-to-one margin.
The runoff was forced when no one among the three candidates Davenport, Richardson and Nancy Reinecke received a majority of the votes. Davenport was the leader going in, having around 46 percent of the vote in the general election to 32 percent for Richardson.
With a much lower turnout (3,033 total votes), Davenport won overwhelmingly.
The election was seen as a referendum between Mayor Mike Bodker and five members of the City Council who commissioned a controversial "investigation" of the mayor that cost around $100,000 (the city has still not released the final costs).
Richardson joins Councilman Randall Johnson and former Councilwoman Bev Miller, who resigned to run against Bodker, who were all soundly defeated.
"I am humbled and grateful that so many people took the time and effort to vote in this important election. A runoff that kept pace with the results of the first election proved that voters wanted to change the balance of the [City] Council," said Davenport.
"I am also grateful that citizens who otherwise would not have gotten involved in politics also have a chance to truly make a difference. And I am living proof of that ideal."
Davenport joins newcomer Dr. Lenny Zaprowski on the City Council. Miller's seat remains unfilled since she qualified late in the election process and there was not time to add her seat to the ballot. In the interim, the council will continue to serve with six members.
Asked what she saw as the most pressing needs for the council in the coming New Year, Davenport said establishing a common ground for all council members to condense and agree on issues to move ahead together.
She identified those issues as:
initial plans for a city center,
infrastructure needs and funding mechanism review,
completing signal coordination efforts with surrounding counties to improve traffic flow,
supporting city first responders and improving ambulance response time,
partnering with economic development agencies such as Johns Creek Advantage to attract and maintain jobs and viable businesses within our city.
Asked what would mark her first year in office, Davenport said she would follow the same course as her campaign to keep to a positive message.
"I will focus on not tearing down my opponents or further dividing the city," Davenport said. "So I will keep to that promise and establish ongoing town hall meetings to gain a better understanding of the people's agenda and the issues they feel are most pressing to accomplish."
She said she will begin by focusing on the Brumbelow and Nesbit Ferry roads intersection as promised.
After the runoff, Bodker congratulated and welcomed Davenport and Zaprowski on their election to the City Council.
"It takes a very deep commitment to find within oneself the willingness to serve and to take on the challenge of a campaign," Bodker said. "I congratulate them both on their victories, and look forward to all they will bring to our city."
Bodker also congratulated Reinecke on her active campaign.
"[Reinecke] will not take a seat on council. However, her campaign raised important issues that I am sure will be part of the dialogue moving forward," he said.
Bodker was also generous in thanking the outgoing members of council [albeit before they moved to continue to their investigation of the mayor]. Much of the hotly contested city elections revolved around Johnson, Miller and Richardson's efforts to remove the mayor through a controversial and costly investigation.
"Finally, I want to thank our outgoing councilmembers," Bodker said. "Although the past several months told only the story of strained relations, it should not in any way overshadow seven years of dedicated work to our city.
Randall Johnson, Karen Richardson and Bev Miller "gave untold volunteer hours to create Johns Creek and were then elected to serve on our first council," he said.
"They have much to be proud of, and I am personally very proud of all that we accomplished together."
The mayor said the election is over and now it is time to move forward and for the City Council to "forge a new path" for the city.
"We while continue to hold true to the principles upon which Johns Creek was founded fiscal responsibility, transparency and responsiveness the citizens of Johns Creek have turned the page, and I know that together we will write this next chapter and look forward to all that it will bring," he said.
Post 3 Runoff Results:
Candidate Votes cast
Cori Davenport 2,017 66.5 percent
Karen Richardson (I) 1,016 33.5 percent
Executive Editor, Appen Media.