Auburn mayor wins national women's leadership award

Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger was recognized as a top woman in local government in the nation.

Blechinger was awarded the 2011 Annual Leadership Award, presented by Women in Municipal Government, a constituency group of the National League of Cities, at a luncheon Friday.

The award recognizes a female local official for unique and outstanding leadership in local government, a press release said. The winner is recognized for individual achievement in initiating creative and successful programs in local government which help residents, particularly if the leadership serves as a specific mentoring model for future female leaders.

Elected in 2008 to lead Auburn, Blechinger was honored for her work on the creation of The Great Rail Trail, Shackelford Park, the Children's Playground and the new Auburn Ball Fields. She has also formed the Auburn O.W.L.S., a citywide senior citizen group, facilitated a co-op store by partnering building owners with small businesses and partnered with Lanier Technical College to offer free GED classes in Auburn facilities.

The current chairwoman of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, Blechinger serves as a board member of the Barrow and Gwinnett County Chambers of Commerce and is president of the Barrow County Mayors' Association and the Gwinnett Municipal Association.

Joining Blechinger as a finalist for the award was Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, and civic leaders in California, Indiana and New Mexico.

Dems claim victory, but candidate says not so fast

Georgia Democrats took credit for helping to win a Snellville mayoral race.

But Kelly Kautz, who bested Barbara Bender for the seat Tuesday, says she is a political independent.

In an email to supporters, Mike Berlon, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, used Kautz's election as an example that the party is making in-roads in GOP strongholds.

But Kautz said she has voted in more Republican primaries, adding that her detractors tried to make hay out of one vote in a Democratic primary, but she has always maintained that she is an independent. City elections are non-partisan races and do not require candidates to state a political affiliation.

The Democrats endorsed her in the race, but she said that was because Berlon, an attorney, was once her boss.

"Him and I go way back. We're friends," she said. But she added, "I'm an independent."

By the way, Kautz said the Gwinnett district attorney's office has opened an investigation into the computer forgery claims she made about email exchanges posted on a local blog. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the matter.Ballar to run for Probate JudgeAnother attorney has begun a campaign to become a Gwinnett judge.

Buford attorney Chris Ballar announced Thursday he is running to become Probate Court Judge in next year's election, joining Emily Brantley and Tracey Mason Blasi who announced campaigns for separate judgeships a week ago.

"I believe I would bring unique skills and experiences to the office," said Ballar, who specializes in planning and laws relating to the elderly. "I've run a private firm and know what it means to budget and manage. And I have strong, first-hand experience helping my clients find solutions both in an out of court."

For more than a decade, Ballar has counseled and advised clients on topics including wills, powers of attorney, guardianship, asset protection Medicaid and estate recovery, which are common topics in Probate Court, a press release said.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

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