At a crossroads
Challenger Johnson forces runoff against Norcross mayor Webb

NORCROSS - And then there were two.

Two of three candidates for Norcross mayor will again face each other in a Dec. 4 runoff election, according to city officials.

Incumbent Mayor Lillian H. Webb defeated both her challengers Tuesday with 310 votes, according to unofficial totals released by the city. But the margin isn't wide enough that Webb could retain her seat during Tuesday's municipal election.

Political newcomer Bucky Johnson chalked up 268 unofficial votes, which placed him ahead of the third hopeful Michael Lovelady, who took 155 votes, and close enough to Webb to require a run off.

Voters in Norcross will be asked Dec. 4 to choose between Webb and Johnson at Norcross City Hall.

After 34 total years in Gwinnett politics, Webb vowed the next mayoral term will be her last if elected. She said news of the run off was not surprising.

"I was expecting it," said Webb. "I feel fine. An election isn't going to put me in the ground one way or the other."

Johnson, on the other hand, was elated.

"I'm thrilled in my first time running for anything to get that kind of response," said Johnson, a retired music educator. "The key to this next election is getting people back to the polls for a single candidate vote. I think we'll have a good turnout."

Calls to Lovelady's cell phone for comment were not returned Tuesday before deadline.

In the contested races for Norcross City Council, former councilman Craig Newton beat one-term incumbent Terry Bowie 415-310.

"I'm feeling real good right now," said Newton, who has served as Norcross mayor pro tem in addition to prior council experience. "I think the citizens are looking for a change. The city is at a crossroads right now. It's going to need the kind of leadership that I think I can provide."

Bowie said his two years as a councilman were a "civic duty" to the city he calls home.

"The voters have spoken and I'm happy with it," said Bowie. "You never know what's going to happen in the future."

In the other contested City Council race, one-term incumbent Charlie Riehm beat challenger John Webb 481-234. Neither candidate was available for comment Tuesday night.

In other news, voters were in favor (479-237) of a referendum that will authorize Norcross officials to use redevelopment powers under the "Redevelopment Powers Law" to improve economic and social conditions in depressed areas of the city.

In a separate referendum, voters decided to keep each mayor and council seat a two-year term, said Warren Hutmacher, Norcross city administrator.