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Mayor congratulates Horton
Ronnie Johnston says being mayor of Covington has been 'a great adventure'
1007BUS Nisshinbo Groundbreaking6.jpg
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston speaks on the impact of Nisshinbo Automotive Manufacturing, Inc. in Covington at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's expansion on Oct. 4, 2018. - photo by Darryl Welch
Editor’s Note

This story has been updated to reflect that the Covington City Council has called a meeting for Nov. 20 to discuss the city manager search.

COVINGTON, Ga. — The morning after voters rejected his bid for a third term, Mayor Ronnie Johnston said he had enjoyed his time leading Covington.

In unofficial and incomplete results from the Tuesday election, retired City Manager Steve Horton won with about 60.4% of the vote.

Horton had 1,145 votes to Johnston’s 676 (35.65%) and 73 votes (3.85%) for the Rev. Eric D. Threets.

There were two write-in votes.

 “I want to congratulate Mr. Horton and thank the city of Covington for the past eight years,” Johnston said. “I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a great adventure for me and my family.

“We’re excited for the continued forward growth of Covington.”

Johnston said he couldn’t identify a factor that tipped the race but noted the low turnout. Only about 23% of the 8,269 registered voters in the city voted.

“I think the only thing I can think of right now is there were only 1,600, 1,500 votes cast” — actually 1,896 were cast — “which is a pretty small fraction of the city of Covington, but it’s probably always that way,” he said, adding that he doesn’t plan to dwell on the wondering why he lost. 

“I think it’s important for our city to come back together,” he said. “That’s what these things are about, and let’s move forward.”

Johnston said he hasn’t considered how the change in leadership might affect the ongoing search for a city manager. The current city manager, Leigh Anne Knight, is retiring at the end of the year and the mayor and council recently interviewed six finalists — three of them current city employees — for the position.

The city later posted a public notice Wednesday afternoon of a called City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Council Chambers, 2116 Stallings St. NW, for an executive session, followed by an open session to discuss the selection of a city manager.

Johnston declined to discuss the results of the City Council voting.

Fleeta Baggett won an open seat in the Post 2, East Ward, race with 54% of the vote against Steve Plitt.

Retired fire Chief Don T. Floyd unseated Councilman Josh McKelvey with a little less than 53% of the vote in the Post 3, East Ward, race.

Councilman Kenneth L. Morgan was reelected to the Post 1, West Ward, seat without opposition.

 “No comment really,” Johnston said. “It is what it is.”