Board of Elections certifies Burnette as winner of Kennesaw council race

Nov. 23—MARIETTA — Lynette Burnette has been confirmed as the winner of the Kennesaw City Council Post 1 race, albeit by two votes fewer than previously counted.

Burnette will be sworn in at the City Council's meeting on Dec. 5, City Manager Jeff Drobney told the MDJ.

In a special-called meeting Wednesday, the Cobb Board of Elections certified the results of a recount in the contest, which saw Burnette narrowly defeat Madelyn Orochena.

It was the third time the board certified the race's results. The vote carried 3-0, with board members Jennifer Mosbacher and Jessica Brooks absent.

Orochena had initially been declared the winner after Election Day, with a slight lead over Burnette. But last week, Cobb Elections said they'd found an uncounted memory card containing 789 votes.

After that card's tally was added, the front-runners switched — Burnette led by 31 votes, with Orochena finishing in second place.

Because the margin of victory was less than 0.5%, Orochena was entitled to request a recount under state law, according to board attorney Daniel White.

Completed Tuesday afternoon, the recount saw Burnette receive 1,755 votes (18.27%) to Orochena's 1,726 votes (17.96%), a margin of 29 votes, according to Cobb Elections. That number differs from what was reported Nov. 16, when Cobb Elections recorded 1,756 votes for Burnette to 1,725 votes for Orochena.

Eveler said Wednesday the slight change in the tally was due to two uncounted absentee ballots which were not pulled from storage, and one early voting ballot that had previously not been scanned due to a paper jam.

Appearing at the board meeting, Orochena conceded the race and said she was proud of the campaign she ran.

"In every election, regardless of outcome, the sanctity of the vote must be protected," Orochena said. "After every vote was counted we failed to receive the most votes. Of course I am disappointed in this outcome, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving I have much to be grateful for as well.

"Congratulations to Ms. Lynette Burnette. I wish Kennesaw all the best and will continue to serve the community and work towards progress. My message to the community is to get involved, speak up for what you believe is right, challenge what you see is wrong, know your candidates, and vote."

The Kennesaw special election for Post 1 was triggered when former Councilman James "Doc" Eaton resigned his seat in June over the reopening of controversial Confederate-themed shop Wildman's, in downtown Kennesaw.

The five-member Kennesaw City Council is elected citywide, and the race to replace Eaton drew seven candidates. The city charter stipulates that the winning candidate only needs to receive the most votes, not a majority.

After the recount, behind Burnette and Orochena were Jason Acree (13.72%), Anthony Gutierrez (13.7%), David Blinkhorn (13.29%), Daniel Bowie (12.32%), and Jon Fred Brothers (10.74%).