PORTERDALE, Ga. — Real estate company owner Kay Piper is returning to the Porterdale City Council after more than 12 years.
Piper, who served on the council from 2005 to 2008, was the only candidate to qualify for a special election scheduled for today, March 16, to fill the Post 1 seat left open by the resignation of Niki Wescott.
She was set to be sworn in at the council’s Thursday work session and will fill the remaining two years of Wescott's term.
The city was allowed under state law to forego the expense of holding an election for an unopposed candidate and declare Piper the winner.
Piper said some city residents asked her to seek the council seat when it came open after Wescott moved to Florida recently.
Her years of experience as a corporate accountant will help the council deal with its financial challenges, Piper said.
She said she believes council members in 2020 would not have been surprised by city officials saying it owed $1 million to local utility companies if monthly financial reports were given.
“I’ll be working with the mayor and council to regain the trust and confidence of the residents of Porterdale,” Piper said.
Economic development needs to be a priority to help keep the city’s retail sector thriving, including the historic downtown following the closing of some businesses in the area, she said.
She said the city has “all the key elements” to make it a recreation and retail destination, including its historic mill village homes, walking trails and Riverside Park.
A broker and owner of The Magnolia Realty Group, Piper is a Porterdale native whose roots are deep in the city’s history as a mill town.
Her great-grandfather worked at the mill from its early days of operation, while her grandfather and father worked in management for Bibb Manufacturing Co. that operated the Porterdale mill before it closed in the 1970s.
She was educated in Newton County schools and attended Shorter College before going on to work in the corporate world as an accountant.
Piper and her husband moved back to Porterdale in 1989 and she developed a 10-year revitalization plan called “Let’s Sweep It Clean."
The plan was based on research showing how former mill towns could be revitalized with the restoration of the center of the community — in this case the Porterdale Mill which closed in the 1970s.
The Porterdale Mill Lofts were built in 2006 and the historic Porterdale Gym now serves as an open-air event center after fire destroyed it in 2005.
As a real estate broker, Piper also aided in the sale of 40 homes built by Bibb for its workers in the early 20th century and revitalized by new owners.
She resigned from the council's Post 5 seat in November 2008, citing her health and unhappiness with the council's direction at the time. Current Councilman Lowell Chambers replaced her.
Piper is the second new member to join Porterdale City Council this year.
The council on Jan. 11 appointed former city zoning commission chairman Michael Patterson to serve the remainder of the term of Post 3 councilman Tim Savage after Savage’s resignation to care for his seriously ill wife.