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Martin wins Lawrenceville City Council seat

LAWRENCEVILLE -- One up-for-grabs Lawrenceville City Council seat will be determined by a Dec. 1 runoff, while another was taken by its incumbent, according to unofficial results in Tuesday's municipal election.

Political newcomer Katie Smith bested two opponents with 46 percent of 861 total votes in the Council Post 3 race. Smith earned 399 votes, followed by challenger John Merrill (261), whom she'll face in the runoff. Doug Nash finished third with 201 votes.

"I am ecstatic and thrilled with the turnout," said Smith. "I'm thrilled we're in the lead, a strong lead."

Smith, manager of a Children's Healthcare of Atlanta outreach program, said the proposition of a runoff hardly surprised her, given the odd number of candidates.

"To me, we start right back where we left off," she said. "It just means we have another month's extension, continuing on the same strong path."

Merrill said his campaign tactics for the next month will be to close the vote gap between himself and Smith. To do so, he said he'll continue his message of upping the quality of life in Gwinnett's county seat, strengthening "law and order" and keeping taxes low.

"We've got to step it up a little bit and find as many votes as we can," said Merrill, a retired business manager. "We're just going to keep running a positive campaign, talking about the issues that matter to the people here in Lawrenceville."

Both candidates are vying to fill a seat vacated by Bob Clark, who has decided against running again. All seats are two-year terms.

Peter "P.K." Martin, the sole incumbent in council races, won 481-390 over Lawrenceville realtor Rodney Camren. Martin could not be reached for comment.

Campaigning, Martin stressed the need for better code enforcement and quality job growth. Martin said he'll champion redevelopment with an eye on establishing a corridor connecting Georgia Gwinnett College to Lawrenceville's downtown.

"We can accomplish all of these goals with conservative, balanced budgets and reductions in tax rates -- just as we have for the last four years," Martin has said.