There will be three contested city council races in Winder this fall, while Mayor David Maynard appears to be heading for a third term.
Both incumbent city councilmen Al Brown (Ward 2) and Travis Singley (Ward 4) filed to run for re-election during the candidate qualifying period Aug. 19-23, and both will face a challenger in the Nov. 5 election. Brown will face opposition from Kobi Kilgore, while Singley will be challenged by Holt Persinger.
Kilgore, a Jackson County social worker, and Brown, who has been on the council since 2013 and is seeking a second full term, announced their intentions earlier in August.
Holly Sheats and Robert Lanham qualified to run for the at-large council seat currently held by Michael Healan. Healan won’t seek a second term in office because he is relocating to South Carolina.
Maynard, who was first elected in 2011 after defeating incumbent Chip Thompson, won re-election in 2015 and will run unopposed again this year.
Persinger grew up in Duluth and has lived in Barrow County since 1998 and inside the city limits since 2016. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture and is a licensed landscape architect.
“As Winder continues to grow, I welcome the opportunity to help guide that growth with my knowledge and background working in land use,” Persinger wrote in an email. “I would like to see the city address the existing stormwater management issues.”
It will be the first time Singley, who is seeking a third term, has had an opponent.
“I’m looking forward to it and hopefully serving another four years and seeing some projects be completed,” Singley said. “We’ve improved and built parks and sidewalks. Things I’d like to see us do better would be road maintenance, taking care of our rights of way and continuing to improve our stormwater infrastructure.”
Singley, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, also touted progress made in the police and fire departments since he has been on the council, including the implementation of educational programs, and said police chief Jim Fullington and fire chief Matt Whiting are “two of the best in the state at what they do.”
The race for the at-large seat features a pair of candidates who currently serve on the city’s planning board in Sheats, who announced her candidacy earlier in August, and Lanham, who filed to run on the final day of qualifying.
Lanham, the current chairman of the planning board, has served on the panel for eight years and was previously on the Barrow County Planning Commission for 10 years. He also chairs the Barrow County Board of Library Trustees.
Originally from Missouri, Lanham has lived in several states and has been in Barrow County for 15 years, living in Gwinnett County for 10 years prior to that. He is retired from a career with the Internal Revenue Service’s Small Business Division.
“I just thought that this would be an opportunity to raise my level of involvement and service,” Lanham said of his run for the council seat. “I’ve had a strong interest in both city and county government for a long time. …I’m not running against anybody; I’m running for the job. I don’t know if I can make a difference, but I think I can offer some ideas.”
Lanham said he would like to see the city move more quickly on a rewrite of its zoning ordinance and called for more transparency in a couple of areas. He specifically noted that the agenda for the council’s weekly committee meetings, where the bulk of the discussion on issues that come before the council takes place aren’t published publicly.
There will be no election in Auburn, Bethlehem or Carl in November, but there will be one change in Bethlehem.
In Auburn, incumbent Mayor Linda Blechinger and council members Peggy Langley and Jay Riemenschneider qualified for re-election without opposition, as did Mayor Sandy McNab and councilman Scott Morgan (Post 4) in Bethlehem. Doug Koestel, a member of the town’s tree board, qualified to run for the Post 2 seat held by Wayne Ridgeway, who won’t seek re-election.
In Carl, incumbent council members Billy Nix and Rebecca Knight were the only ones to qualify.