Bob for Cobb!
by Sarah Westwood
July 23, 2014 04:00 AM | 4951 views | 11 11 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bob Weatherford celebrates with supporters Tuesday night as he claimed a rousing victory over Bill Byrne for the Cobb Board of Commissioners District 1 seat. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Bob Weatherford celebrates with supporters Tuesday night as he claimed a rousing victory over Bill Byrne for the Cobb Board of Commissioners District 1 seat.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — After a bruising runoff, Bob Weatherford defeated former county chairman Bill Byrne on Tuesday in his quest to claim the Republican nomination for an open seat on the Cobb Board of Commissioners.

With all precincts reporting, Weatherford received a total of 9,523 votes, or 62 percent, while Byrne received 5,960 votes, or 38 percent.

In total, 15,483 voters cast their ballots in the race.

Janine Eveler, director of the Cobb Board of Elections, said there are 102,730 active voters registered in District 1.

Weatherford will now face Democrat Derrick Crump in November’s general election, although pundits predict the race has been decided due to the Republican stronghold in northwest Cobb.

Byrne and Weatherford have jousted for the District 1 seat occupied by retiring Commissioner Helen Goreham, since edging out three other candidates in the May 20 primary.

Weatherford, a former Acworth alderman, said “a lot of hard work” contributed most to his runoff victory.

“We made over 8,000 phone calls, sent over 2,000 letters and we must have participated in over 100 events,” Weatherford said.

He said “getting the story out” was one of his campaign’s greatest efforts.

“I worked hard and I’ve done everything I can,” Weatherford said.

Byrne said Weatherford didn’t run the race on his own merits.

“This was not an issue-based campaign,” Byrne said. “My opponent — not only in the primary but in the runoff — never focused on the issues. It was literally always about Bill Byrne’s past, and nothing about his future.”

Weatherford hammered Byrne’s record, saying for example that he should have found a way to avoid an “anti-gay” resolution the county passed in 1993.

Angela Barner, an Acworth real estate broker, took third in the primary, followed by Scott Tucker, a retired fire marshal and assistant fire chief who lives in Kennesaw and Glenn Melson, who owns an insurance firm.

The contentious runoff that followed put Weatherford’s ties to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s leadership and Byrne’s record in office in the public spotlight.

Weatherford stuck by his association with such influential leaders as Cobb chamber CEO David Connell and chamber Chairman Ben Mathis, saying he was “proud” to have their backing throughout the campaign. He was also backed by all six Cobb mayors and Goreham.

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews and Councilman Tim Killingsworth were among a group of Weatherford’s supporters who gathered on the second floor of the Earl Smith Strand Theatre on Marietta Square to watch the returns Tuesday evening.

“I’m proud to have their support and I’m proud to support them,” Weatherford said of the chamber. “I think it’s a great thing. They didn’t buy anything from me, they just supported me. I will do what’s best for all the citizens of Cobb County.”

Weatherford declared victory over Byrne shortly after 9:30 p.m.

Surrounded by friends and family, Byrne watched early returns roll in from the top floor of Shillings restaurant.

“Being realistic, those are hard numbers to turn around,” Byrne said.

“In the political arena, there’s only one winner. We thank them,” he said of his supporters. “Tomorrow morning, regardless of the outcome, they’ll still be good close friends and supporters, and tomorrow, we start over.”

While Byrne said his campaign was able to keep pace with Weatherford’s campaign contributions, he noted Weatherford’s supporters piled on additional funds to send out a series of negative mailers or “slick sheets.”

“I would say close to 75 percent of Weatherford’s campaign funds came from either chamber members or related chamber business people. We matched it,” Byrne said. “Where we were outspent was the money spent on the slick sheets, and that was in the thousands of dollars.”

The mailers focused on two alleged missteps from Byrne’s decade-long tenure as chairman.

“I think that kind of campaigning at a local level turns more people off than on,” Byrne said of the slick sheets.

Weatherford spent 12 years on the Acworth Board of Aldermen before announcing his resignation in February and entering the district commissioner primary field.

He spent eight years in the Acworth Police Department prior to his election to the city’s governing body.

Public safety topped the list of issues he emphasized during throughout the campaign.

Crump said he didn’t perceive either candidate as more difficult to face than the other.

“I think they are both two candidates who are concerned with Cobb County, as they should be, as I am as well,” Crump said. “Each of them has history here in Cobb.”

Comments
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West Cobb Resident
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July 24, 2014
I listened to both sides of this campaign. It strikes me as funny that those who support Weatherford called Byrne divisive, unethical, a crony, foul mouthed but to me that describes the Weatherford campaign perfectly. Byrne made mistakes while in office but he stands behind those and learned from them. I would have hoped people would have also looked at all of the good things Byrne did for the County while he was in office. The good far outweighs the bad. I wish Weatherford the best of luck in office. I hope he proves me wrong and supports the majority of Cobb not just the minority of those that put him there. Time will tell. Until then I'm buckled in ready for taxes to up, services to go down, and West Cobb to become as congested as East Cobb.
Hang it up
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July 24, 2014
Mr Byrne,

You said, "Tomorrow, we start over." That sounds a whole lot like someone who just wants to hold political power in whatever way, shape or form you can get your hands on it and are already looking ahead to your next campaign. Please listen to the voters and just move on to something beyond politics. The people have spoken three times now.

BYM75
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July 23, 2014
Wow, such judgmental jerks. I can't see why anyone would want to represent the people in Cobb if this is any indication of how the citizens are. Good luck with Weatherford, you're going to need it!:)
Just Sayin'....
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July 23, 2014
The amount of negative campaigning done by the Weatherford campaign was really remarkable. I cannot remember when I have had more anti-anyone mail in the weeks preceding an election of a local official. I lay this at the feet of John Loud who managed Weatherford's efforts, and of course the deep pockets that puled out all the stops at the last minute.

Yes, Byrne has a history...as do most people who get active and involved. I am not necessarily a fan of Bill Byrne, but I did vote for him, because I never once heard Weatherford give an honest to gosh opinion, or stand, on anything.

I wish Mr. Weatherford luck, as I think he may need it in the years ahead.
Move On
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July 23, 2014
Byrne, do you finally get the message? Cobb does not want you, three strikes and you are out!! Lost Governors race, Chairmans race and now you are soundly defeated in the commissioners race. You should be embarrassed but with your ego I bet not.
Acworth Voter
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July 23, 2014
To paraphrase Faulkner...

In Cobb we never forget the past. Heck, it's not even past!
East Cobber
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July 23, 2014
I hope that is the last we hear of Bill Byrne...hopefully he will move back to Polk County and give Cobb a break from his vitriol.
Ben Twomey
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July 23, 2014
One Chamber of Commerce/Tim Lee clone replaces another Chamber of Commerce/Tim Lee clone.

ho hum!

The people of Cobb County lose.
Like the Chamber
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July 23, 2014
I think this shows that the public likes the Chamber of Commerce and does not like those who think they know better. All this trying to tie Tim Lee to the Chamber actually makes Mr. Lee more popular.
Ben Twomey
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July 23, 2014
Wrong, all it shows is that people are don;t care enought to get educated on the issues and listen too much to campaign lies.
burning question
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July 23, 2014
Will Acworth see Byrne on the ballot before the graveyard gets him?

Byrne, hint: The Republican primary in Cobb County GA is ALWAYS about the past!
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