Election Day Recap: New mayors, school board members across metro Atlanta plus DeKalb OKs sales taxes

Voters cast their ballots at Peachtree Christian Church in Midtown Atlanta on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2023. (Patrick Saunders/WABE)

This story was updated at 1:59 p.m.

Metro Atlanta voters headed to the polls on Tuesday in small numbers with nearly 100 contested races at stake in over 40 cities across the area.

Over half of the seats on the Atlanta School Board were on the ballot. Former interim Fulton County Schools Superintendent Ken Zeff handily beat incumbent Michelle Olympiadis in District 3. Olympiadis was denied a third term on the board.

And the At-Large District 7 seat appears headed to a Dec. 5 runoff between incumbent Tamara Jones and Alfred “Shivy” Brooks. Neither crossed the 50% threshold needed to win. If Brooks prevails, he will be the first active teacher to serve on the board.

In other Atlanta School Board races, Katie Howard faced no competition in District 1 and will cruise to a second term. And incumbents Erika Yvette Mitchell in District 5 and Jessica Johnson in the At-Large District 9 race appeared to secure reelection safely.

New and returning mayors to be sworn in across the metro

There were at least a dozen contested mayoral races across metro Atlanta on Tuesday.

Several cities will have new mayors after the current ones either were term-limited and ineligible or decided not to run again.

In the race for Brookhaven mayor, former City Councilman John Park and Lauren Kiefer are headed to a Dec. 5 runoff. Mayor John Ernst is term-limited.

In Auburn, retiree Rick Roquemore beat City Councilmember Peggy Langley. Roquemore will succeed Linda Blechinger, who decided not to run for reelection after nearly two decades in office.

Bill Kolbrener will be the new mayor in Mountain Park in north Fulton. He succeeds Jim Still, who is stepping down after 16 years.

In Lilburn, current Mayor Tim Dunn has been knocked out of office by former Mayor Johnny Crist.

The following metro Atlanta mayors were all re-elected: Ollie Clemons in Austell, Bianca Motley Broom in College Park, Joseph Geierman in Doraville, John Lampl in Morrow and Derek Norton in Smyrna.

And in a contentious race in Coastal Georgia, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson beat former Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter in a landslide. 

Results are still being tabulated for other mayoral races and will be updated here as they come in.

DeKalb voters give the OK to sales tax referendums

In DeKalb County, both sales tax referendums passed.

One continues property tax relief for six years for homeowners with a homestead exemption. DeKalb projects the Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST) will save homeowners about $1 billion.

The other sales tax referendum on the ballot in DeKalb County was a 1% special purpose local option sales and use tax (SPLOST). DeKalb projects it will generate about $850 million over six years. It will be split with $496 million going to the county for unincorporated parts of DeKalb, while cities in DeKalb will get about $354 million.

The passage of SPLOST also earmarks $15 million to expand capacity at the county’s Regional Crisis Center, which provides treatment and stabilization services for uninsured people with mental health or addiction issues. 

In other ballot measures in DeKalb on Tuesday, Dunwoody voters rejected a bond referendum for parks, greenspace and trails with nearly 57% voting against it. 

Turnout was low across the metro Atlanta area on Tuesday. Seventeen percent of Cobb County voters turned out, 14% of DeKalb voters did and just 10% of Fulton voters made it to the polls.

Rahul Bali, Jess Mador and Juma Sei contributed to this report.