NORCROSS - Lillian Webb's last political race is shaping up like her first one. But the perennial Norcross mayor is hoping it ends that way, too.
After 34 years in elected office, Webb finds herself in a runoff for the mayor's post she has held for two decades.
But Webb said she's had the experience before - both in her first ever run for City Council and in her first race for the county chairmanship. She won both contests.
"It was like starting all over again," she said of a runoff campaign. "You just work from strength."
On Dec. 4, Webb faces Bucky Johnson, the retired music educator who wants to imbue new blood into the city.
Runoff races will also be held that day between Maxine Garner and Greg Whitlock for Duluth City Council, incumbent Gene Greeson and Susan Robinson for Dacula City Council and Alfonza Brown and Bill Healan for Barrow County Commission.
With the holidays and the chilly weather, candidates said getting people to the polls will be difficult.
"That's the challenge. Everybody's busy this time of year," Johnson said.
Webb and Johnson said there are few issues on which the two disagree, but Webb wants to see the completion of some of her favorite projects, while Johnson believes the city is ready for a new leader.
He said his election would help continue the progress the city made in changing to a city manager form of government.
"I think people want to look to the future and embrace this new form of government,"
Johnson said. "I believe I have real strong leadership. I believe I can bring people together for a consensus."
After spending nearly half of her life in the public eye, Webb said she wants to prepare the city for the future, making necessary improvements to the local water system, electrical system, roads, greenspace and more. She wants to see the completion of a long-awaited new fire station, which will also include a fire museum.
"Every day I find I'm an ambassador to something," she said.
"It could be some of the new people have closer associations with him, and there could be some who want to stay with who they know," she said, adding that experience is necessary. "It's an on-the-job learning process, and there is no quick fix."
Lillian H. Webb
Lillian H. Webb
Occupation: Civic participant in local government and events
Education: Some college at Georgia State College for Women
Elected or appointed political experience: Thirty four years in county and city government; eight years as Gwinnett County Commission Chairperson; 26 years as mayor and Norcross City Council member
Family: Children, Frank Webb, 59, John Webb, 56, Anne Satterlee, 49; four grandchildren
Occupation: Retired music educator; runs the Southern Star Music Festival in conjunction with Six Flags Over Georgia
Education : Masters degree in music education from University of Georgia
Elected or appointed political experience: None
Family: Wife, Janet; children, Manny, 27, Wes, 23
Although there is no incumbent in Duluth's council runoff, the issues are similar.
Maxine Garner, a former councilwoman who served 16 years before losing an election two years ago, is hoping for a return to office.
But she is facing Greg Whitlock, a political newcomer who believes the city needs new ideas.
Garner said she's proud of her past accomplishments, including work on city ordinances, but she wants to work on redevelopment in older areas and positive growth in some of the last undeveloped spots of the city.
"Now is the time to set the bar high and seek what we want, not what the developers propose" she said.
As the two go about campaigning, residents of Duluth are blasting a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. Both candidates are against the development.
"We already have a Wal-Mart. We don't need another, and certainly not at the entrance to the city in a largely residential area," Garner said.
Whitlock is also against the proposed Wal-Mart location, although he believes Garner's past votes set the stage for this controversy.
"This could have been solved a long time ago, if the right initiatives had been set," he said.
Whitlock wants to get control of crime, "jump start the stalled downtown development" and make sure officials are held accountable for taxpayer spending.
"More than any other city in Gwinnett, I think Duluth needs to have that (new leadership) right now," he said. "What you're doing is voting for Duluth's future."
Occupation: Medicare coder for Gwinnett Medical Center
Education: Registered X-ray technician
Political Experience : 16 years on the Duluth City Council; 2 years appointed
to the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning and Zoning Board
Family: Two adult children, Sean and Melissa; 4 grandchildren
Occupation: Commercial insurance agent
Education: Bachelor's degree in risk management from Georgia State University
Political Experience: Serves on the Duluth Downtown Development Authority, the Duluth Investment and Finance Committee and the Community Core Preservation Board
Family: Wife, Barbara; children, Andrew, 20, Olivia, 21 months
Contact: 770-622-6500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Like Whitlock and Johnson, Susan Robinson believes her city needs some fresh leadership.
Robinson, a police detective, has taken on her neighbor, incumbent Gene Greeson, in the Dacula City Council race.
"I felt like there needed to be new voices," she said. "Dacula is kind of the last city to get growth. ... It's important while things are getting rezoned that the city be on top of what they want."
Attempts to reach Greeson, who has been a councilman for a decade, were not successful.
In interview prior to the general election in November, he said he hoped to bring commercial growth to the city.
Occupation: City Electric Supply Company, Lawrenceville
Education: Attended Dacula High School, received GED
Political experience: Member of the City Council from 1997-present, member of the Planning and Zoning Board from 1980-1997
Family: Wife, Sandra; children Michelle, 38, and Chad, 31; one granddaughter
Occupation: Police investigator for the Gwinnett County Police Department, assigned to the District Attorney's office
Education: Bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Toledo, Ohio
Political experience: none
Family: Divorced; children Brian, 27, and Laura, 23
The Nov. 6 election whittled a six-person race down to Alfonza Brown and Bill Healan.
Brown said he wanted to seek solutions on the local water supply, growth, transportation and education. He said he wanted to strike a balance on growth affairs and taxes.
"I'm running to take care of the people of Barrow County," he said. "I have concerns because I'm a Barrow County citizen."
Healan, a former chairman of the county's Democratic Party, said he wants information and records to become more accessible to residents, and he wants to make sure people's voices are heard.
"I want the citizens to know what's going on out there," he said. "I think the government we have is very heavy-handed."
The District 3 seat became open when Roger Wehunt resigned to mount an unsuccessful campaign to become Winder's mayor.
BARROW District 3 Commissioner
William Doyle Healan
Name: Alfonza Brown
Occupation: Real estate
Education: Bachelor's degree in business
Political Experience: None
Family: Wife, Sandra; son, Alfonza Jr., 32
William Doyle Healan
Education: Juris doctorate
Political experience: None
Family: Wife, Patti; children, Billy, 35, Cindy, 32, Michael, 27, and Erin, 22; and three granddaughters
Contact : 770-867-7554