We talked about the upcoming elections in the City of Gainesville, now it is time to look at our neighbors in the south end of the county: Flowery Branch. Flowery Branch has 4 seats open this November: Post 3, Fred Richards; Post 4, Joe Anglin; Post 5 Tara Richards; and the Mayor, Mike Miller. What we can pretty much count on, is that there will be challengers on the ballot for most, if not all of the seats.
Some of the volatility comes from growth. With the development of Sterling by the Lake, there appears to be a lot of new candidates and I am thinking there will be several waiting in the wings. Here are some of the potential challengers in alphabetical order:
- Ed Asbridge, President of the South Hall Republican Club. My source in Sterling says that there are people trying to encourage Mr. Asbridge to run for Mayor. My source also says that the people are wasting their time because Mr. Asbridge was the Chairman of the committee to elect Mike Miller. I have also heard that he is not interested. Either way, I would think that he would be a favorite for any seat against any opponent.
- Jason Covert, former candidate for seat 3. Mr. Covert lost in a special election runoff by 23 votes to Fred Richards about 10 months ago. If he is still interested, he could go back after Mr. Richards or he can choose to go after one of the others. If he goes after Councilmember Tara or Anglin, he wouldn’t have to deal with the “anti-Sterling” sentiment that he may have faced in the last election.
- Chris Fetterman, former councilmember for seat 2. Councilmember Fetterman resigned from his post just after being reelected because of a job transfer. Apparently, he moved back because my source says that he is looking to run after one of the seats.
- Ed Lezaj- former councilmember for seat… He served so long ago, I am having a hard time picking out his seat, but it looks like his name comes up almost every election and since I have seen his name in the minutes, I might as well throw him in.
- Bill Northquest, I had never heard of him, but my Sterling source says that he is plugged in and has experience. As a ‘Sterlingite”, I would imagine that Fred Richards could be in his cross hairs, or if there is an incumbent that chooses not to run again, he might step in.
- Amanda Swafford, former councilmember for seat 1. Mrs. Swafford never disengaged from the political scene in Flowery Branch. In fact, she now contributes to a news site. Since she ran in a special election to replace Lutz, she has already had a couple of campaigns in the past couple of years. We will have to see if she has the energy to do it again and who would she take on.
- Kris Yardley, former councilmember for seat 3 and current Hall County GOP chair. My source says that it is unlikely that former councilmember Yardley would run again; he has his hands full with the GOP and he would still like to run for State House in the future.
- Craig Lutz, former councilmember for seat 1 and current County Commissioner. Yes, he is out of order and I doubt that he will run. My Sterling source says that if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t have left the council; apparently Lutz hasn’t been very impressed with the direction since leaving. My source agrees that while he probably won’t run for City Council since he would have to leave the commission, he said Lutz has mentioned that he will be “all in” in helping others to unseat some of the current council.
- Mayor Mike Miller– he started as a councilmember and then ran for Mayor in a special election. From what I hear, he may be thinking State House since I hear that he teaches in Gwinnett County and that is where part of his district goes. Or perhaps he is considering a run against Lutz since he appears to be a charter member of the Lutz fan club. Either way, the word is that his ego will have him in the race for mayor.
- Post 3, Fred Richards– Councilmember Richards has been on for less than a year. He should be battle hardened and I doubt that he has done much to rock the boat and lose votes. A Sterlingite might think that since he is from out of the neighborhood that he may be easy pickin’s; however, see the Covert campaign.
- Post 4, Joe Anglin- Apparently, the councilmember ran uncontested in a special election. This means that if he runs for reelection, it will be his first campaign. That might seem like blood in the water for the battle hardened group of challengers, but I hear that council member Anglin is well liked and generally the most approachable. He also teaches in a Hall County school and probably has a lot of connections.
- Post 5, Tara Richards. Unlike Anglin, Richards did have a challenger. Of course, it looks like she was just as absent from the campaign trail as she has been in office while serving overseas. While Mrs. Richards will be able to tout her military service, the time that she has been on council appears to have been a little rocky and since she and the Mayor are co chairs of the Lutz fan club, I can imagine that the “all in” comment may have been about her.
While Gainesville will be a fun race to watch, if you like dirty politics, Flowery Branch may be where you eat your pop corn next fall. There are a lot of matchups that look interesting. Since the seats are not districted, it is hard to place odds on the winner. The odds can’t be stated at this time because these will come down to matchups. However, this may be an election where the incumbents are the underdogs.