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Council candidates sign up for PTC races

In a last-second qualifying shocker, the wife of Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix has qualified to run for the Post 3 city council seat currently held by Kim Learnard, who is seeking re-election. Meanwhile, the five mayoral candidates have all qualified and there is a race for all three open council posts.

Mayor Haddix's wife, now council candidate Cathy Haddix made waves in March 2011 when it was revealed that she had some not-so-nice words for then-Economic Development Coordinator Joey Grisham at the grand opening of a new specialty grocery store. Mrs. Haddix later admitted that she told Grisham in part: “I hope your tenure is short here.” She defended the language, saying Grisham, then in charge of recruiting businesses to the city, favored big box retail stores but not the city's village concept. Mrs. Haddix has managed to keep a fairly low public profile.

Learnard and Mayor Haddix have clashed routinely over matters particularly in the fiscal realm, as Learnard has continually pushed the mayor to lay out specific plans to cut the city's budget. Haddix has declined to do so, arguing the city needs a "strategic plan" and that he has been thwarted in seeking such by his fellow council members.

Through Friday at noon, five people had filed qualification papers to seek the mayor’s post: current council member Vanessa Fleisch, 52, a Realtor; and recently-resigned Post 2 councilman George Dienhart, 46, an information technology consultant; former mayor Harold Logsdon, 68, retired; local businessman Ryan Jolly, 34, of Jolly Technologies; and incumbent mayor Don Haddix, 62, retired.

The qualifying period ended at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.

The battle with Logsdon and Haddix will be set on the backdrop of the libel suit Logsdon filed against Haddix, who wrote in an email to a city staffer two years ago that Logsdon was "part drunk" at council meetings. The case was ultimately settled in Logsdon's favor.

The short two-year term of the Post 2 council seat has drawn some unexpected interest. Recreation Commission Chairman Shayne Robinson, 55, a homemaker, has filed for that seat, along with Vietnam veteran and retiree Mike King, 54, and political newcomer Austin Chanslor, 25, an advanced field technician for Mastec Advanced Technologies.

The Post 2 seat has a shortened term of just more than two years because it was abandoned by Dienhart, who had to resign from office to seek the mayor’s post. Whoever wins the seat will be able to take office immediately.

Peachtree City also has the Post 3 and Post 4 seats up for grabs. Incumbent Kim Learnard, 53, a workforce trainer, has qualified to seek re-election to her Post 3 seat with no challenger as of early Friday afternoon.

Former Peachtree City Police Captain Terry Ernst, 62, retired, has qualified for the Post 4 seat, and will be opposed by web developer Stephnie Franz, 39. The Post 4 seat is being vacated by Fleisch, who is declining to run for her council seat so she can run for mayor.

The five-way mayor’s race almost guarantees a runoff election, as a majority vote is required to claim the seat. If none of the five candidates gets a majority, the top two vote-getters will go head to head in the runoff to determine the winner.

The only sure thing is that holdover Councilman Eric Imker will have at least two new faces to work with starting in 2014, and he might have up to four new compatriots depending on how things shake out at the ballot box.

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