Austell voters decided Tuesday to remove the “acting” part of acting Mayor Ollie Clemons title.
Voters chose him over his three challengers with 461 votes, good for 54% percent of the vote, according to unofficial numbers.
In second place was general contractor Chris Djonis, who earned 164 votes or 19.2%. In third was the self-employed Ikaika Anderson with 145 votes, or 17%, and rounding out the pack was consultant Cindy Thompson with 83 votes, good for 9.7 percent of the vote.
Clemons has served in city government since 2013, when he was first elected as a councilman. Then-Mayor Joe Jerkins appointed him to mayor pro tem the next year.
Clemons became acting mayor in July when Jerkins stepped down after 30 years in office due to health problems. Shortly after that, Clemons announced he would run for a full term.
“It was my expectation to run anyway because he had already said he would not seek reelection, so I already had that in the back of my mind, not knowing that he was going to retire when he did,” he said.
Now that he’s won, Clemons said he wants to focus on his priorities, including improving the city’s downtown.
“We’re really in a good position, we’ve got investors and commercial Realtors looking our way, and we’re really just in a good position. I would love to continue moving the city forward,” he said.
Clemons said his campaign’s biggest asset was his experience.
“None of the other candidates had served in the council at any time, none of them had even served in any appointed position,” he said. “None of them had done anything for the city, hardly ever came to the council meetings.”
Austell voters also selected two new council members.
Melanie Maria Elder will fill Clemons’ Post 1 at-large seat, which became vacant when he assumed the role of mayor. She defeated Realtor Sarah Shurden with 463 votes to Shurden’s 320, or approximately 59.1% to 40.9%, according to unofficial numbers.
Elder said she credits her win to forming connections with the voters.
“I believe I truly showed my passion to want to move the city forward, and the voters spoke,” she said.
Elder said her No. 1 priority will be to improve transparency in the city.
“Going forward, getting town hall meetings established so we can really hear the voice of our community and let everybody know their voice does count and they are heard,” she said. “It’s going to take all of us as a team, as a community, to get Austell where we want it to be.”
Plumber Devon Myrick will take over from Councilman Scott Thomas in the city’s Ward 2 after Thomas did not run for reelection. Myrick defeated senior budget analyst Shontae Brown with 107 votes or 57.5%.
Myrick said he credits his win to his faith in God.
“I definitely want to make sure I follow through with the words I spoke in taking care of children and senior citizens of Austell with hard work and dedication,” he said.
Two other council members were reelected with no challengers: Ward 4’s Sandra Leverette and Valerie Anderson in the Post 2 at-large seat.