published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Clay Kissner defeats Judd Burkhart in Fort Oglethorpe election

Vote results

Kissner 403 to Burkhart's 152

Summerville liquor by drink: passed with 52 votes in favor and six opposed.

Pickens County Sunday package sales: 692 in favor and 328 opposed.

Voters had mixed reactions Tuesday to Sunday alcohol sales in a smattering of Northwest Georgia special elections.

That is, if you count the result in Fort Oglethorpe.

In a race to fill the seat of deceased Councilman Eddie Stinnett, voters there overwhelmingly chose political newcomer Clay Kissner, who's been lukewarm about putting Sunday sales on the November ballot, over political veteran Judd Burkhart, who vowed to give the city's voters the option to weigh in on the controversial measure.

Kissner, who knocked on 350 residents' doors during the campaign, thinks pounding the pavement had more impact than his Sunday sales stance.

"I don't think that had anything to do with the election," Kissner said after results came in. "I'm going to get as much [feedback] as I can from the citizens and make a decision."

Stinnett's seat expires in nine months, and Kissner said he plans to run for a four-year term in November.

"It's been a wonderful experience," he said of his first campaign. "I got to meet a lot of wonderful people."

Burkhart, who served twice as a councilman and twice as mayor, said he won't run again.

"This is it," Burkhart said before the results came in. "If he [wins], he should fill out a four-year term."

The unofficial vote tally of 555 in Fort Oglethorpe is just shy of 12 percent of the city's 4,675 registered voters.

Liquor in a landslide

Voters in Summerville, Ga., overwhelming supported sales of distilled spirits by the glass.

City Council members had voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot in hopes of generating new revenue through fees, taxes and by attracting new restaurants.

"It was a landslide," City Clerk Jill Durham said. "They were overwhelmingly in favor of it."

City voters approved Sunday sales of beer and wine by the glass about three years ago.

Summerville's turnout was "just a drop in the bucket," Durham said, with a little more than 2 percent of the city's 2,427 registered voters casting ballots.

Pickens County voters approved Sunday package sales of beer and wine by about a 2-to-1 margin.

A little more than 5 percent of the county's 19,200 registered voters participated in the special election.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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