Chris Burnett and Joe Houseman will vie for the Sandy Springs City Council District 3 seat in a June 21 runoff after three other candidates were eliminated in Tuesday’s special election.

“It is an honor to be one of the top two,” said Burnett, a community banker, on Election Night. “I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation about…how to make Sandy Springs an even better place.”

“We’ve put a lot of hard work into this,” said Houseman, an airline pilot, at City Hall, where he watched the vote count. He said the runoff will be “an exciting time for the city of Sandy Springs and our friends and neighbors.”

Chris Burnett

Of 1,907 total votes, Burnett won about 41 percent (774) and Houseman won about 28 percent (524), according to unofficial results. They were followed by Brian Eufinger (253 votes), Larry Young (189) and Suzi Voyles (167). Those unofficial election numbers were added up and read aloud by City Clerk Michael Casey at City Hall.

The candidates were running for the District 3 seat left vacant when Graham McDonald resigned to campaign for the state House of Representatives.

Burnett has presented his financial expertise as an asset to the council, while Houseman has positioned himself as the voice of old-school suburban Sandy Springs.

Voyles and Eufinger said that they are endorsing Houseman, while Young said he will remain neutral.

Joe Houseman

“I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good time meeting so many neighbors, talking to people door to door,” she said. “And I’ll work hard for Joe Houseman.”

Houseman, Eufinger, Young and their spouses all went to dinner together during part of the lengthy vote count at City Hall.

“I think it’s great we had five candidates,” as it shows the high level of civic engagement, said Eufinger. “[The election loss] doesn’t change my agenda…to fight for transparency, for following the law.”

Young called the race a “very interesting experience, and we entered it with the intent to give it our best shot,” even if it didn’t end as he had hoped.

The 1,900 votes makes for a turnout of roughly 16 percent, well above the city’s special election average of 10 percent, said city spokesperson Sharon Kraun. “It’s a really good turnout,” she said.

Sandy Springs City Clerk Michael Casey counts ballots as poll manager Alicia Volk looks on. (Photo Phil Mosier)

Due to timing issues, the special election had to be run by the city itself at a completely separate, single polling place. The Georgia Secretary of State’s office on May 20 announced it is investigating the election. The exact nature of the complaint is unclear, but a case report provided by the Secretary of State’s office classifying the case as “Elections-Polling Place Change-No Notice.”

Kraun said the Secretary of State’s office has not explained any problems with the election and that the city has not received any formal complaints from voters. Gary Smith, an election consultant hired by the city, pointed to the strong voter turnout and called the Secretary of State’s investigation “the silliest thing.”

Sandy Springs poll manager Alicia Volk and volunteer April Persons deliver ballots to Sandy Springs City Hall. (Photo Phil Mosier)

The June 21 runoff election also will be run by the city. All voting will be held at the Round Program Building in Hammond Park, including advance voting the week before Election Day.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.