Paulding voters countywide and in two cities chose to keep familiar faces in office and a longstanding sales tax in place in elections today, Nov. 5.
Voters countywide renewed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for educational purposes for five more years in unofficial results from the election. The tax has been in place since 1997.
Hiram voters elected a current city council member as its new mayor, and placed the current mayor in a council seat.
Dallas voters, meanwhile, re-elected their mayor to a seventh term and chose two incumbent city council members over their challengers.
However, only about 6% of registered voters cast ballots in the referendum on renewal of the 1% sales tax for education. And only about 9% of registered voters cast ballots in the Hiram and Dallas elections for mayor and city council seats.
They also cast their ballots on almost 200 new voting machines as part of a test of Georgia's new Dominion Voting Systems equipment.
The vote was 4,880 for renewal and 1,941 against renewal and keeps the current 1% sales tax in place for an additional five years through 2026.
The tax can produce up to $120 million — though $113 million is projected to be raised, Paulding school district officials said.
The money is set to fund new Paulding County School District construction and renovations to school buildings and pay off bond debt left over from past construction.
Voters also approved a $30 million bond issuance to begin construction immediately on a new middle school in northeast Paulding and additions and renovations to existing schools in other parts of the county.
Longtime incumbent James Kelly Jr. received 400 votes to turn back a challenge from Brian Hardin who received 293 votes for an at-large city council seat representing the entire city.
Incumbent Leah Kirby Alls received 383 votes to narrowly defeat Ryan Ayers, who received 313, for the city council’s Ward 3 seat.
Mayor Boyd Austin was unopposed for re-election to a seventh term.
Dallas businesswoman Narda Konchel had qualified to challenge Austin but the Georgia Supreme Court rejected her appeal to delay the election after the Paulding Superior Court and county Elections Board ruled that she be disqualified because she could not prove a required one-year residency in the city to hold the office.
Council incumbents Michael Cason of Ward 2 and Jim Henson of Ward 4 were unopposed for re-election.
City Councilman Frank Moran edged Daniel Blount Jr. by 16 votes for the mayor’s seat.
Moran received 135 votes and Blount 119 votes.
He will switch seats with Teresa Philyaw, who sought election to city council rather than re-election to a second term as mayor.
Philyaw was elected without opposition to Moran’s council Post 1 seat. Incumbent Kathy Bookout was re-elected to a third term in the council’s Post 2 seat.
Hiram voters also voted 166 to 95 to allow restaurants inside the city to begin serving alcohol at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.
The election featured the new Dominion Voting Systems machines the Secretary of State’s office is testing in Paulding and five other counties this year before using them statewide in Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary in March 2020.
The county already has received 480 new machines for future elections and will use 198 in Tuesday's election, said election supervisor Deidre Holden.
Voters in the sales tax referendum either cast their ballots at any of three advance voting sites Oct. 14 to Nov. 1, or at 17 assigned polling locations today, Nov. 5.
They replaced former voting locations used in the 2018 elections.