Critic of mayor enters race for Kennesaw seat
by Jon Gillooly
August 29, 2013 12:50 AM | 6179 views | 7 7 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Debra Williams
Debra Williams
Briggett Washington
Briggett Washington
KENNESAW — The woman behind an ethics complaint against Mayor Mark Mathews is running against one of the mayor’s allies on the Kennesaw City Council.

Kennesaw Planning Commission member Debra Williams has qualified to run against Councilman Matthew Riedemann.

Also, Briggett Washington, CEO of the nonprofit, Marietta-based Cobb Alzheimer’s Foundation, announced she will be in the race against incumbent Councilman Bruce Jenkins.

Williams, who has worked on the mayor’s past campaigns, prompted an ethics complaint against Mathews in June with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh, who filed the complaint, alleges misuse of campaign funds just after the election in November 2011 after Mathews participated in a raffle at a banquet of the Kennesaw chapter of Ducks Unlimited.

Mathews won a Rossi 20-gauge shotgun in that raffle valued at between $350 and $400.

Mathews also is said to have spent $420 in leftover campaign funds to buy restaurant gift cards for city department heads just before Christmas 2011. The mayor said the gift cards were given simply as a measure of thanks for a job well done.

Williams also provided the MDJ with text messages between herself and the mayor, in which Mathews mocked the late Councilman Bill Thrash for wanting his wife, Suzanne Thrash, to serve out the end of his term this year.

Mathews wanted Riedemann to fill the seat instead and ended up getting his wish.

The City Council has fractured over these and other controversies with Eaton-Welsh and Jenkins on one side and the mayor and council members Tim Killingsworth, Jeff Duckett and Riedemann on the other.

Mathews, who was re-elected in Nov. 2011, is not up for election this year.

Jenkins gets two challenges

Jenkins has attracted two challengers: former Kennesaw Mayor Leonard Church and Washington.

Mathews ousted Church in November 2007. Elections officials later realized that some residents of

the Ridenour senior-living complex had not been properly classified in the elections system as eligible to vote in the city. A new election took place, and Mathews beat Church again in January 2008. Church came back to challenge Mathews in November 2011 and lost a third time.

One City Hall insider said Mathews has recruited Washington, a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Cobb program, to run against Jenkins.

Washington disputes that allegation.

“I was not recruited by Mayor Mathews. That is not true,” Washington said on Wednesday. “I am running because I love the city of Kennesaw.”

Washington, 42, who has a 13-year-old son at Awtrey Middle School, where she is president of the PTSA, and a daughter at Georgia State University, said she would not be taking sides in the City Council divide.

“I am running to represent the community so there is no side except for the benefit of the community,” she said. “I stand alone. I make my own decisions on what I believe is right for the community and what the community believes that they want and I’m their voice.”

Asked what she thought of Mathews, Washington said, “I think that the mayor is a very nice man, a very nice man. I am one that was raised on the values of ‘believe half of what you see and none of what you hear’ and, from my observance and me being in the company of the council, I have not seen any issues that cannot be resolved.”

Duckett, meantime, has attracted opposition from James “Jim” Sebastian, chair of the Kennesaw Citizens Advisory Committee and owner of SAFE LLC, a consulting company specializing in product warrantees.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Debra Williams
September 10, 2013
I believe in order to lead one must have served under great mentors. I've been fortunate throughout my personal and professional life to have those far greater than I could ever be to pull me under their wing and teach me the meaning and skills of being a leader. I also believe if we do not share the talents and gifts we have been privileged to receive then we have performed a great injustice to our fellow man, not only in a Political position but our business and personal lives as well. Putting ones self in a position to be highly judged by others is at best the most difficult position to choose to be in which is why a person choosing to do so must know who they really are, what they truly stand for, and in no way, shape, or form choose to place themselves in a manner that would raise question to their character, embarrass their family, or loose the confidence of the citizens. I believe and live that to my core. It's not about us individually - it's about us collectively.
Concerned in Kenn
August 31, 2013
Why would we want a Riedemann on the counsel? He so good at running a budget he allowed his home in LP to go into foreclosure just last year - hurting his neighbors and neighborhood. Is that the kind of skill that serves Kennesaw well?
Bill Harris, Kennesa
August 30, 2013

Laws and Sausages????

Otto Von Dismark said: "If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made."

The lead sentence on the June 26th MDJ article provided a good example when they wrote: "Despite the dying wish of the late Kennesaw City Councilman Bill Thrash, Mayor Mark Mathews cast the deciding vote to have a Kennesaw Development Authority member (ie: Riedemann) serve out the remainder of Thrash’s term, not Thrash’s widow."

Now both Riedemann and Councilman Duckett, who voted for Riedemann and against having Mrs Thrash get the job, are up for election in November to the Kennesaw City Council.

Voters can find all the details about this Kennesaw dirty politics trick by taking a look at the full MDJ article and the 10 pages of the transcript of the meeting at:

Do Riedemann or Duckett deserve to continue on the Council?

starting off lying
August 29, 2013
Shame on Ms. Washington. Many people at City Hall confirm she was recruited by Mr. Mathews to run.

Check out the pic on her facebook page, hamming it up with Ducket, Redeman and Mathews. That shows which side of the fence she will fall on.

We don't need another Mark Muppet on council.
Bill Harris
August 29, 2013
My back of the envelope calculations and ruminiations indicate that the likely outcome of this race will be all 3 'anti-Mayor' candidates win their posts:

Post 3 - B. Jenkins

Post 4 - D. Williams

Post 5 - J. Sebastian

Currently Mayor Mathews has a 3/2 lead in Council support. After Nov 5th I expect it will drop to 1/4 with only Killingsworth left in the Mayors camp. Two years down the road we will have a new mayor.

What is making this happen is multi fold, sure we have the poor ethics of the incumbents (Mayor and Council) in dropping the 'old' ambulance service for the Metro firm that also employees Mayor Mathews, but we also have the very unsavory treatment of the wife of a deceased Councilman who was very badly treated when she wanted to finish out her husbands final six months.

I could give more details here but rather than editorialize more on the subject you should really read the press reports and Council minutes to see just how shabbily this was done. To see how this played out go to:


Bill Harris, Kennesaw
Thank You
August 29, 2013
Thank you Ms Williams, it takes courage to stand up when no one else will.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides