PORTERDALE - Political newcomer Lowell Chambers won the Post 5 seat on the City Council by a wide margin in a special election Tuesday.
Chambers defeated challenger Andy Grimes in an election turnout that drew little interest from the town's more than 900 registered voters.
Chambers garnered 51 votes while Grimes received 8. Former Mayor Wayne Maddox received 8 write-in votes; however, he was not on the ballot as a valid write-in candidate.
"I was very pleased with the outcome of the election," Chambers said Wednesday. "And I owe huge gratitude to the supporters and advisors who helped me and sponsored me and encouraged me to run."
Chambers, who was scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday night, will serve out the unexpired term of former Councilwoman Kay Piper, who resigned in October due to health concerns and concerns about the direction the town was headed. Chambers indicated Wednesday that he plans to seek a full four-year term in office in the upcoming November election.
"My No. 1 priority will be to work with the city staff and the mayor and all the council members to try to form cooperative relationships and try to move forward with progress," Chambers said.
Chambers, 52, who has lived in Porterdale since 2000 and Newton County since 1994, said in an earlier interview that he decided to run for the Post 5 seat because he is concerned the town is in danger of losing ground it has gained over the past several years.
Chambers is an engineer who serves as watershed director of the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. He is a native of North Georgia and the son of a United Methodist minister. His educational background includes a master's degree in city planning from Georgia Tech, a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Georgia, a bachelor of music education degree from UGA, and an associate of fine arts degree from Young Harris College. He is a Georgia registered engineer.
Chambers has previously served as chief engineer with the Atlanta Department of Public Works and design section chief for the Bureau of Drinking Water. He was responsible for a $500 million evaluation and rehabilitation of the Atlanta Sewer system. He has also worked in the private sector in the design and construction of reservoirs, road projects and public and private utilities.
He also serves as a founding member of the Friends of Porterdale and has served as chairman of the town zoning board.
Chambers said he and his wife, Melanie Sheets, moved to Newton County when she began working with the Newton County School System where she is a teacher. They are the parents of two boys and are active members of First United Methodist Church of Covington.
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SideBar: Liquor by the drink gets OK
SOCIAL CIRCLE - Patrons of restaurants in Social Circle will soon be able to enjoy a mixed drink with their meal following passage of a liquor-by-the-drink referendum Tuesday.
The measure received 180 votes in favor and 104 opposed in balloting at City Hall. About 11 percent of the town's registered voters cast ballots in the referendum.
Mayor Jim Burgess said Tuesday night that liquor-by-the-drink sales are viewed as a key to drawing restaurants and other economic development to the town.
According to the referendum approved Tuesday, mixed drinks may be sold only at restaurants and must account for less than 50 percent of the restaurant's revenue.
City Attorney Joe Reitman said the Social Circle City Council must now pass an ordinance governing the sales of mixed drinks for the referendum to take effect. Reitman said he has already forwarded a proposed ordinance to City Hall for the council's perusal. He said the proposed ordinance is based on one already in effect in Madison and includes "pretty stringent controls."
Once the ordinance is approved by the council, it can take effect the next day, Reitman said.