Tail wagging the dog
In the past weeks I have heard two stories that are eerily similar, but slightly different concerning the upcoming special elections in Flowery Branch. Both smack of conspiracy theories, but the similarity of the two stories from two different and unrelated sources makes me think that where there is smoke, there is fire.
Let’s start with a little history. One year ago, the City Manager of Flowery Branch was on the verge of being ousted. After surviving the near coup, it appears that the City Manager has taken interest in the candidates and election of the council that would have a vote on his career and salary.
As you know, the two people who stood against the city manager are now gone; Kris Yardley resigned to make a bid for State House and Amanda Swafford was defeated in the November election. The maneuvering appeared to start with Yardley’s resignation. While the election won’t be held until this March, the remaining council members set a qualifying date before the November election to (what seems) prevent the losers (Swafford in this case) from being able to run. With Lutz and a couple of others apparently standing up for their friends by speaking out to the council, the remaining council members dug in.
With the groundwork established, let’s now consider rumors of electioneering; two sources have informed me that Jason Covert has been encouraged drop out of the Post 2 race and enter the Post 4 race. That would guarantee that a non-Sterling on the Lake resident would be on the board because the remaining candidates, former councilwomen Pat Zalewski and Fred (no relation to Tara) Richards, are from the other side of I-985. It should also be noted that Post 2 would nearly be a four year term while Post 4 has a little less than 2 years left on the term.
Now, it would seem that this would be the wish of the former council person, Chris Fetterman, when he said in his letter of resignation that “as of right now all four elected officials are from Sterling on the Lake, and not to take away their ability to govern or the fact they do represent the whole city, but equal representation from all areas of the city is needed. With two seats now open, and one set of candidates qualified, I hope other people will run for the seat I am resigning from other areas within the city.” However, there seems to be an underlying motive to move Jason from post 4 to post 2.
The main difference in the two stories appears to be the driver of the conversation to have Jason Covert swap positions. One of my sources said that the Mayor is the one who talked to Jason Covert, the other source said it was the City Manager. While it may have been either or both, I think we can be assured that the conversation took place.
What I see here is a more devious issue at play. My Sterling on the Lake friend and member of the Armadillo Hat Club informed me that the Mayor, Council Member Richards, and newly elected councilmember Gibbs all had campaign signs for former Councilmember Mary Jones in their front yard. I have also been made aware that former Councilmember Zalewski is good friends with Mary Jones (he actually said that Zalewski was Jone’s sock puppet). While Mary Jones lost to Fetterman in the race, my SOTL friend informed me that Jason Covert doesn’t have the name recognition or network of Fetterman and may be a lot weaker against Jones. Zalewski, on the other hand, could gain support from Richards, Miller and Gibbs to easily defeat Fred Richards; especially if Sterling begins to believe that Mr. Richards has a position on streetlight charges.
It appears that with Councilmember Richards’ impending assignment to Afghanistan the Mayor may be in a place where he can continue to run the council as the tiebreaking vote; but if they are able to manipulate Jason Covert into changing posts, the City Manager may be in a position where his career is absolutely protected for some time to come.
Hugh Hall County Akston