All precincts reporting (including absentee ballots)
Mayoral seat (listed in alphabetical order)
(Only Conyers and Olde Town precincts)
Kathy Harvey: 198 (25.16 percent)
Randy Mills (I): 516 (65.57 percent)
Michael Zanetti: 70 (8.89 percent)
Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax
Yes: 2,352 (57.15 percent)
No: 1,579 (42.85 percent)
Rockdale County Precincts & Poll Locations:
Absentee: Visit or call the Board of Elections Office for information on absentee voting.
Barksdale: Barksdale Elementary School
Bethel: Presbyterian Church of the Resurrection
Conyers: Conyers First United Methodist Church
Fieldstone: Life Church
Flat Shoals: Flat Shoals Elementary School
Honey Creek: Honey Creek Elementary School
Hightower: Hightower Trail Elementary School
The Lakes: Rockdale County Public Works Building
Lorraine: Union United Methodist Church
Magnet: Cross Pointe Christian Church
Milstead: Conyers Middle School
Olde Town: Pine Street Elementary School
Rockdale: Rockdale Baptist Church
Salem: Salem High School
Sheffield: J.H. House Elementary School
Smyrna: Heritage High School
St. Pius: St. Pius X Catholic Church
Stanton: Edwards Middle School
Rockdale County residents said “yes” to renewing the five-year penny sales tax for education capital projects by a solid 14 point lead and City of Conyers residents voted back incumbent Mayor Randy Mills for a fifth term with about 66 percent of the vote.
The Conyers mayor race was a three-way contest between Mills, Kathy Harvey, who came in second with the next largest slice - 198 votes or 25 percent, and newcomer Michael Zanetti, who won 70 votes or 9 percent.
The county-wide turnout was 5,539 voters, or about 11.75 percent. In the city, there was a turnout of about 527 voters, or about 8.23 percent.
In 2009, only city races were on the ballot and there was a turnout of 665 voters, or about 10.79 percent. During that election, Mills won 91 percent of the vote while Harvey won 9 percent of the vote.
There were smiles and handshakes as the final precinct results came in Tuesday night at the Board of Elections office. None of the mayoral candidates were at the Elections Office, but both city councilmen Cleveland Stroud and Chris Bowen, who ran unopposed, were present, as well as supporters of the ESPLOST.
Mills, who waited with his family at home as the results came in, said this election was a humbling experience. “I honestly did not know how this was going to go,” he said.
“I’d have been happy to win by one vote. I know the other two had a very good campaign.”
“I’m incredibly excited,” he said, about being reelected to a fifth term.
He was also excited that his college-age daughter was able to participate in the election this year by casting a ballot. “My daughter has never been able to vote for me,” because she was too young to vote previously, he said. “She drove up and voted today. That was a neat experience.”
When asked if he would be adjusting his approach after this election, he said, “As long as I’ve been on the council, we really try to do the right thing and not look at the politics and the noise that goes on. Whatever the situation is, the council works as one unit.”
Zanetti and about 35 supporters, including Judge Charles Mays, gathered at clubhouse for election night at Viewpointe Condominiums on Pine Log Road, where Zanetti lives.
As the outcome became clear, Zanetti thanked his supporters, "It was a fun ride. I learned a whole lot," he said.
He told The News that he wouldn’t rule out running again for mayor. "We'll give it some time, get some sleep, see what direction we want to go in,” he said. “We'll figure out what went wrong and see what happens next time."
Harvey was not able to be reached by press time.
Incumbent District 1 City Councilman Cleveland Stroud ran unopposed and received 100 votes. Incumbent District 2 Post 1 City Councilman Chris Bowen also ran unopposed and received 288 votes.
Supporters of the $83.6 million penny sales tax for education capital projects, known as ESPLOST, exchanged hugs and handshakes soon after Rockdale County Board of Election chairman William Todd announced that “yes” votes took the majority. Those supporters included various members of the school board and members of Parents for the Future.
In describing their reaction, both school board chairman Jim McBrayer and Parents for the Future co-chairperson Darlene Hotchkiss said they were fortunate that the community supports education.
The community “has come through again,” said McBrayer. “We appreciate everyone’s support.”
Hotchkiss told the News, “we’re very happy for that (the passing vote), but mostly happy for what this will accomplish for the students of Rockdale County.”
Tonight’s voter approval marks a beginning, according to Hotchkiss.
“It’s the beginning of all of these items they have on the ESPLOST and that turns back over to the board and they determine which is to be first and which isn’t,” Hotchkiss said. “As the money comes in, it’s a pay-as-you-go, which is the absolute best for any taxpayer in Rockdale County.”
Hotchkiss and Tony Wilson served as co-chairpersons for Parents for the Future. The group held several public community forums to explain ESPLOST projects and urge county residents to vote yes.
The referendum’s passing can only be partly attributed to the group’s push in the public forums, Hotchkiss explained.
“Of course, there’s some portion that has to do with the energy that was put in, but I think it’s because this community believes in the superintendent and believes in the board that they have right now,” she said.
Rockdale resident Brian Jenkins, a vocal critic of the ESPLOST, said he was concerned about the transparency of the school board, whether they would broadcast their meetings and discussions, and whether a percentage of the ESPLOST funded projects would go towards local contractors and local jobs.
"We have to develop a level of discipline in seeking tax dollars and using tax dollars more wisely and more efficiently," he said. "I commend the voters who entrusted in the school system that they would do the right thing with the additional funds."
But, he added, "It’s more than just the building, the structure. Let’s focus on what’s inside the structure. We keep throwing money at problems." That doesn't mean the problems go away, he said.
All precincts reporting.
Mills wins reelection with 66 percent of vote, unofficially, for fifth term in office. Harvey came in second with 26 percent of vote, and Zanetti won 9 percent of the vote.
ESPLOST passes with 57 percent approval, by a margin of 789 votes.
Check back later for the full story.
14 of 19 precincts reporting; Barksdale, Sheffield, Smyrna, The Lakes remain.
The mood among the residents watching the count lightens.
About 30 people at the Elections Office awaiting results, including RCPS Superintendent Rich Autry, School Board members Jim McBrayer and Brad Smith, ESPLOST advocates Tony Wilson and Darlene Hotchkiss, City Councilman Chris Bowen, City Elections Supervisor Pat Smith and spokesperson Jennifer Edwards, RCPS STARS program director Susan Paul Smith, City Councilman Cleveland Stroud, Progressive Club President Aldren Sadler, Sr., City Attorney Mike Waldrup, RCPS department director Phil Budensiek, active community volunteers Carlan Ivey and Connie Alsobrook and Sam Smiley, former city mayor Charles Walker, and more.
Polls have officially closed and election workers are busy tallying votes at the Rockale County Board of Elections office.
By about 7:30 p.m., William Todd announced all the absentee votes, both by mail and in-person.
Early voting closed Friday with a a total turnout for both in-person and mail early voting was 3.4 percent, or 1,604 voters out of 45,521 registered and active voters.
In the 2009 elections, which only had city elections and only involved two precincts - Conyers and Olde Town, there was a turnout of about 3 percent for early voting.
This year, all Rockdale voters have the ESPLOST on their ballot. City residents have a mayoral race and up to two unopposed city council races on their ballots.
City residents will have the mayor's race on their ballots. The mayoral candidates are Kathy Lorraine Harvey, incumbent Mayor Randy Mills and Michael Thomas Zanetti.
Olivia Ware will be listed on the ballot but has been disqualified from the election due to questions of her residency not being in the city of Conyers for at least one year.
City residents in the Conyers precinct will have the District 1 City Council race on their ballots.
City residents in the Olde Town precinct will have both the District 1 and the District 2 Post 1 City Council race.
Both city council incumbents are running unopposed. Cleveland Stroud is running unopposed for District 1 and has served in that seat since 1994. Chris Bowen is running unopposed for the District 2 Post 1 seat and has served in the seat since 1991.