Decatur Election Results – Bond Passes Easily, Candidate Results

2015 Decatur ballot

Welp, after all the weeks of contentious conversations and prognosticating, many of the Decatur races and votes didn’t end up being all that close.

With 5 of 7 precincts in Decatur in, the CSD GO Bond looks like it will pass quite easily.  It currently has support from 78% of the electorate.

Tony Powers also has a sizable lead for the At-Large Commissioner seat, with 86% of the vote.

On the southside, Brian Smith has 85% of the vote for the open District 2 commission seat, while Tasha White has 66% of the vote for the open southside school board seat.

The closest race of the night is the northside Commission seat between incumbent Scott Drake and Eric Tumperi.  With two northside precincts yet to report, Drake holds a 55% lead to Tumperi’s 39%.  The unofficial results from one of the two yet-to-report precincts shows Drake with a lead, but we’ve heard the final northside precinct may show a lead for Tumperi, so we won’t call that one just yet.

UPDATE: The latest updated results show only a 128 vote lead for Scott Drake. Though it looks like all precincts have now reported.

UPDATE II: Drake holds the 128 advantage for the victory.

85 thoughts on “Decatur Election Results – Bond Passes Easily, Candidate Results”


      1. Oh, thank God. I don’t think I could stomach an extended election season–not with the Presidential election year coming up!

  1. If I’m using the correct numbers, it looks like voter turnout for a local election was high in Decatur–31%-38% depending on whether you use the denominator of 13,000 active voters or 16,000 registered voters. That’s way over the 20% that folks were predicting earlier today. (I predicted 27%.) The item that attracted the most voters was the GO Bond–5041 voters.

    1. Data is up on the Dekalb site now. 39% turnout overall assuming 12,928 registered voters. If you click on reports tab, you can download the data.

      Precinct % GO Yes % Turnout
      CLAIREMONT EAST 74% 43%
      CLAIREMONT WEST 80% 43%
      GLENNWOOD 77% 29%
      OAKHURST 79% 38%
      PONCE DE LEON 71% 32%
      RENFROE MIDDLE 78% 41%
      WINNONA PARK EL 85% 45%

    2. Congratulation to Decaturites on a respectable, if not overwhelming, turnout yesterday. For the last time, at least in the election cycle, let me again point out the difference a few votes can make in a local election:

      * In our own city,Scott Drake won by 81 votes, or 3 percent
      * In Doraville, one city council seat had a victory margin of 18 votes, while another was only 4 (four) votes.
      * The LaVista Hills vote lost by 136 votes out of 13,700, or less then one percent.

      Figures are from this morning’s AJC, which seem to include early voting figures.

      To those of you who voted, thank you. To those who didn’t, you vote can make a difference and in the meantime take a seat in the lobby of the complaint department.

      1. Good catches, Steve. Regarding the cityhood votes, I pretty much called those exactly wrong months ago, thinking that Tucker’s lack of police force would not inspire voters to add a layer of government and Lavista Hills would pass because they would have added a new police dept. I do note, though, that in terms of percentage of population, Tucker and Lavista Hills got about the same percentage of Yes votes, but turnout in the Lavista Hills boundaries was higher overall and had a stronger movement on the No side. A lot of people in Tucker didn’t even realize they weren’t already in a city, so that might partly explain the relatively weak opposition to incorporation there.

        1. Yeah, Tucker is modeled after Peachtree Corners, which is sometimes referred to as “city lite”. Personally, I don’t see the point in having a city with only limited services, but I don’t live there and wasn’t in on the issues.

  2. I never lied to you, I’ve always been cool
    I wanna be elected

    I gotta get the vote, and I told you about school
    I wanna be elected

    “Elected”

    -Alice Cooper

  3. Now that the matter’s been definitively resolved, can we please get back to the reckless development?

  4. On the heels of this needed school bond, I just hope the council is serious about giving additional tax relief to seniors. Yes, I supported the bond.

    1. If we’re going to give additional property-tax relief–and I can definitely see the reason for it, in order to help keep Deactur socioeconomically diverse–how about making it income-based rather than age-based? Lots of long-term residents are being pushed out of Decatur, but I’d rather target any additional tax breaks towards those who need it.

      1. That is actually smart and useful. Taxes are based on currently seriously inflated property values. Those values will go down but will have a harder time regaining the diversity we have lost.

        1. Don’t worry. I totally plan to move back when the Decatur housing market crashes, or at least returns to some semblance of normal.

          1. Tell me where you relocated please. Do you have the same walkability to eateries and activity areas & events? Easy access to public transportation and basic-need shopping? What percent do you estimate you are saving over formerly living within CoD?

            1. We haven’t relocated yet. But this has pretty much finalized our decision to sell rather than renovate our current home, assuming that we can sell for anywhere near what the comps are going for. We are currently looking in Avondale Estates and other neighborhoods adjacent to, or very near to, City of Decatur. We will still have all those things you mention. Depending on where we ultimately move to, we will save anywhere from 20% to 35% off our current tax bill. Probably even more in the future the way things are going. I’ve loved and defended Decatur for years but it’s kind of a no-brainer for us now.

              1. I declined to buy in COD several years ago precisely because of the City’s appetite for spending and taxes. The risk of a big tax hike, on top of the already high tax levels, was just too much. And now it’s pretty much come to fruition (and I doubt this one will be the last). Landed in AE and I agree with what you say — you retain many of the same benefits of living in COD, without a big portion of the expense. It’s one thing if you have kids in the schools, but if you don’t . . . And it appears you are not in one of the favored groups who may be exempted from the tax burden for diversity purposes.

                Anyway, good luck.

                1. Exactly, and thanks! If you see a moving van and a car full of dogs in your neighborhood sometime in the next few months, that’ll probably be us. Come say hi and I’ll grill you something on my Egg.

                  1. Deal, and if you bring that sucker to the pool* come May, you will make a lot of friends very quickly. 🙂

                    * If allowed, which it probably isn’t.

            2. We’re moving 150 yards outside of Oakhurst as soon as our renovation is complete. We’ll have the same walkability to Oakhurst, better to the dog park, better to Decatur, better to MARTA, and better to Kirkwood. Since we’re childless, it’s a no-brainer.

          2. Sorry to lose you J_T. Good luck walking home from Trackside – better add in some Uber bills!

            As for the economics of the move, I suppose if you capture the upside in Decatur, gamble that Avondale is going to do the same and then hop to the next spot — all while timing the market right — that is a winning strategy. A toast to it working out.

            Paid my Decatur taxes for 14 years with no kids in the system, I finally have one in now — am still revenue positive for the city, just like you. But as for me and my family, we love it here and will make other sacrifices to stay in town.

            Hope to see you getting empanadas one of these days…

      2. For the most part the property tax exemption categories are already income AND age related. Problem is the age related component does not align to when most people get on a fixed income and are no longer working. If one gets none or little cost-of-living increase yet the property taxes owed increase 20, 30 or more %, it’s very difficult to remain in your home.

        1. I too am one of those with no kids in the system that may need to move because of taxes. No where near retirement, so no help there. What is the age of tax breaks anyway? And how much?

          It would make me so sad to have to leave, but I simply may not be able to afford to stay. The city is on its way to becoming child-only households. I know several people whose kids are in college and the parents wound up moving.

          1. “What is the age of tax breaks anyway? And how much?”

            See http://www.decaturga.com/city-government/city-departments/administrative-services/taxes-and-fees/homestead-exemption-information

            If you manage to live in Decatur until you’re 80, and you and your spouse have a combined income of less than $40k a year, you can finally quit paying school taxes. (Yay! *cough* *cough* *sputter*….)

            To their credit, on Oct. 5 the City Commission agreed to recommend an exemption from city school taxes for residents age 65 or older, regardless of income. For this to go into effect, it will need to be approved by the state legislature.

            There are a few other age- and income-related exemptions detailed at the link above, none of which will do anything for you unless you’re destitute or disabled.

            I hope the age 65 exemption (which has been widely touted as a palliative by proponents of the $75 million school bond referendum), does in fact become a reality. As long as we have the current lucrative* combination of tax burden and steadily escalating property assessments, many Decatur residents will continue to “age out” of the city well before entering their Golden Years.

            * Lucrative for the city coffers and real estate professionals, that is.

            1. Re: my statement “There are a few other age- and income-related exemptions detailed at the link above, none of which will do anything for you unless you’re destitute or disabled.”

              — Correction: There is currently a $50k reduction in assessed property value applicable to school taxes for residents aged 70 and above. If your house is worth around $350k (like those of many Decaturites aged 70+), that’ll save you a little over $900 a year.

              About half of that will be eaten up by the bond referendum that just passed, unless this proposed 65+ school tax exemption is approved.

  5. Congratulations to the winners and to all the candidates for taking the time to get involved. I have enormous respect for people that decide to do something vs. shouting from the sidelines.

    1. Ditto. IMHO, the contested races were quite useful–they increased voter turnout, community discussion, and probably city/CSD responsiveness. At forums I attended, not only did the residents learn about the candidates, but the candidates, even the incumbents, were learning about the issues, even going to city and CSD management with questions they hadn’t thought about before. And close races often result in the second place candidate coming back later and either winning a seat or serving in some other important capacity. Garrett Goebel, who is now CSD School Board Chair now, lost his first race for a School Board seat.

      Given all the loud anti-GO Bond sentiment I heard over the last several months, I was surprised at the overwhelming support for it. On some level, most of us may feel that it’s not the children’s fault that we are in a pickle. They need a decent place to sit and learn while we adults figure out the pickle and how to get out of it.

  6. “Given all the loud anti-GO Bond sentiment I heard over the last several months, I was surprised at the overwhelming support for it.”

    I thought it would be a bit closer. But voters pretty much everywhere have proven time and again they will vote for money for schools.Given that the overwhelming majority of newer residents in Decatur chose to live there in large part because of the schools, I guess the outcome shouldn’t be much of a surprise. To the extent that there was vocal anti-bond sentiment being expressed, it may have actually driven the unusually high turnout, as those worried it might not pass showed up to make sure it did.

    1. That loud party is getting outpaced by changes in the electorate and they know it, but they are still powerful, make no mistake. Still, there’s a growing awareness that those concerned with the health of CSD (and aware the the health of City depends on the health of CSD) need to pay attention to the City and City Commission. And hopefully the divisiveness between CSD and City that was bred by the old regime will fade away.

  7. When the final financial reports come out, it will be interested to see the ‘cost per vote” for the various candidates. I have a pretty good idea whose cost the most and probably whose cost the least.

    1. Unbelievably, the support group for the bond is out asking for $1,500 from everyone. Apparently they bought all their yard signs with their good looks.

      It’s a bit rude, if you ask me (I know, no one asked me). I’m sure they weren’t meaning to be mean-spirited, but it sure feels as if they’re rubbing their victory in the face of those that may not be in the mood to give money the day after we voted in a tax hike. (Yes, I know how millage rates work and, yes, all of our tax bills will be going up). I applaud their civic engagement during this election. I really have to question their money-handling skills and their post-election judgement.

      But just so they know I’m a good sport, the page to donate to them, should you so desire, is goyesdecatur[dot]org/donate/ Good luck, guys.

      1. Just to clarify–and I may be the only person who read it this way–the pro-GO group has $1,500 in debt total. They’re not asking for individual $1,500 donations. I know there are some rich people in town but I didn’t think anyone could pay that much, kr that anyone would be brave enough to go door to door asking for so much.

      2. That request is indicative of why the whole bond thing stunk in the first place.
        “We’re going to borrow a bunch of money and you all have to pay it back.”
        Or is it a very elaborate and clever joke?

  8. Scott Drake has won his last two elections by a combined margin of 142 votes (14 in election 1, and 128 in election 2). That’s unbelievable. Decatur is a small town and all, but 142 votes, that’s just ridiculous. All credit due to Scott, his family, and his team for finding a way to win.

    But in thinking about the future, maybe a little more face-to-face with the folks in your district would help. I’m one of them, and while I’m fairly active in city life, I don’t think we’ve actually met before. Just food for thought. Congrats again on another term.

    1. JC, hope you’re still checking for replies! Near as I can tell, most folks who’ve expressed frustration with Scott Drake live where there isn’t an active neighborhood association. Not having one takes away the main way for commissioners to engage with residents outside of city held meetings. Scott Drake attends the DHNA and Downtown Neighbors meetings. (I believe ours are the only District 1 neighborhood associations that hold regular meetings.) He was also involved in the community meetings on the “Y” expansion, and he’s been meeting with the groups working on Scott Blvd traffic related issues– Scott Blvd’s dangerous speed, Westchester’s Safe Routes to School, and cut-through traffic in nearby neighborhoods.

      (It’d be terrific to see all north side of town neighborhoods have a neighborhood association. Then we could all establish ties and bond like the south side of town neighborhoods have done. :0)

    2. JC if you need to contact me my cell is 404-932-7652 and personal email is [email protected] if you to reach me to meet I’m more than happy to. As numerous people contact me daily about ideas and issues in Decatur.

  9. Yes, we pay higher taxes in the City of Decatur than some other places, but it’s a choice to live, work and play here. Not everyone is willing to make this sacrifice for our high living standards, equal opportunities and overall well being. Thinking a bit less about ourselves as individuals and investing more in our community, however, will ultimately benefit all of us. So pleased the GO Bond passed.

    1. Exactly! Decatur is not for everyone. It’s for people able to, um, I mean WILLING to make such sacrifices! Those poors who think only of themselves and their ability to eke out a living rather than investing in OUR community? Forget ’em! So pleased we are doing all we can to keep them out. Now, where’s my moat?

      1. Yes, JT, Decatur gives “equal opportunities” to the merely upper middle class, as well as to the rich and really rich, to live here and partake in our “high living standards” and “overall well being.”

          1. Begs the question why the left so opposed school choice. In this regard progressives are usually the most vocal defenders of the status quo — i.e., the teachers union industrial complex.

            1. This progressive is for requiring that the best teachers teach in the poorest schools and get paid more for it. Not gonna happen though. And I’m also for low income parents being able to send their kids to any school within their system if their neighborhood school fails to meet certain standards. School choice, right? Those are a couple things I’m for under the current “status quo”.

      1. You read it right. Apparently, everyone has the choice to live here or not. Silly things like fixed incomes and being taxed out of the home they have lived in for decades are irrelevant.

        VL’s statement is surprisingly narrow-minded, especially given their admonition that we should think “a bit less about ourselves as individuals and investing more in our community.”

        1. Well, I love Volvo’s and consider myself pretty darn liberal, so, I’m taking the words there at face value, not pre-judging based on the moniker. I’m guessing I’m not the only liberal who sees the folly in such sanctimonious statements. But I’m holding out the possibility that I’m wrong with that guess here in New Decatur.

      2. After re-reading VL’s comment, I’m now wondering whether s/he isn’t just having us all on with that comment. I mean, it’s almost a parody in its short-sightedness, so I’m thinking it’s sarcasm. If so, well played, VL. Well played.

        If not…well, I sincerely hope that blinkered outlook isn’t representative of the majority of Decaturites.

        1. With the name Volvo Liberal, I immediately assumed it was satire. My comments, of course, were totally legit. Everybody else, I have no idea what they were thinking.

          1. Yeah, it kinda reminds me of the things Mr. B pops in & says from time to time, many of which are (by his own tacit admission) designed to get folks riled up. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone whose views are actually diametrically opposed to VL’s statement made up that moniker & spouted nonsense that s/he believes is indicative of what liberals supposedly think, just to see what reaction it would get.

              1. I don’t see it. I think it was a legit statement. Now, he/she may claim it wasn’t now that there is blow back!

            1. “spouted nonsense that s/he believes is indicative of what liberals supposedly think,”

              Moniker aside, it could actually be read as a stereotypical conservative talking point: those who can’t live here aren’t willing to “sacrifice” enough (work hard enough); the mention of “equal opportunity” ( which doesn’t really exist if one doesn’t have well-off parents).

        2. I assumed it was satire too. But it is, in fact, how “public” education works (and not just in Decatur), dispelling the myth of “equal opportunities”.

    1. They don’t often come from someone calling him/herself a “Volvo Liberal”, though. If this person is truly embracing that stereotype and flaunting it, that’d be surprising. Then again, in the age of Trump, I guess that nothing should be surprising.

    2. I am confused — what exactly did VL say that is not directly out of the core progressive worldview that higher taxes mean greater prosperity, and that individualism stands in the way of the public good?

      1. Because the idea behind it, despite the claim to the contrary, is not that the taxes are benefiting the greater good, but only those who can afford to buy in Decatur (and for those people, the taxes are relatively inconsequential anyway). What is missing is what is, in fact, closer to the “core progressive worldview”: that high-earners should bear a much greater tax burden than low earners, and that good education should be available to all, not just those with well-off parents.

      2. “…the core progressive worldview that higher taxes mean greater prosperity, and that individualism stands in the way of the public good?”

        I’m physically incapable of giving this portion of your statement the eyeroll it deserves. But OK, I’ll bite, and address these points:

        Progressives don’t believe that higher taxes mean greater posterity across the board. We simply believe, as reasonable people do, that those who are in the top 1% holders of wealth/income should actually pay their fair share, instead of receiving corporate welfare. Ensuring that the wealthy are actually taxed at the same rate as the rest of us is what leads to the greater good for everyone in this society. Working-class people (including the middle class and working poor) are the legs upon which the wealthy stand, and yet, so many conservatives believe that these people don’t deserve a living wage. To them, it’s outrageous that they might have to pay 25 cents more per Big Mac in order for McDonald’s to pay its workers $15 an hour. It never fails to astonish me how many conservatives who aren’t in the top 1% persist in seeing themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires who are only too willing to show that they have no “wealth envy” (a ridiculous term in & of itself), instead of companions in arms to their fellow middle- and working-class citizens who get shafted by the tax loopholes designed to give the biggest breaks to the ones who least need it.

        Progressives (at least, I and the many I know) don’t believe that individualism, per se, stands in the way of the public good. We value creativity and freedom of expression, and the rights of individuals to believe and live however they choose, as long as doing so doesn’t bring harm to others. Like anything else in excess, however, unfettered individualism (which is most exemplified in the “I’ve got mine, so f–k you” jargon of the Libertarian rightists) isn’t good for anyone.

        Statements like yours, DEM, are precisely why the original post from “Volvo Liberal” is suspect.

        1. So much of the talk of “individualism” on the right is really about only one issue: property. Somehow, they’ve managed to co-op much of the libertarian movement, while still insisting, for example, that gays should not be afforded civil rights, that the government should force women to carry pregnancies to term, and that tax dollars should flow to Christian causes. I’m not putting Dem or Walrus in this group, but I know a few “libertarians” who care more about their tax rate than they do about personal freedoms, likely because they don’t have to worry about being harassed by the police or told they can’t have an abortion.

          1. Gotta completely disagree with you on this one. Head over to Reason.com and tell me that libertarians pay more attention to taxes than personal liberties. Libertarians have been fighting for gay rights since the 70’s, while the dems have “evolved” on the issue only recently.

            And while I’m pro-choice, can you not understand that some people believe ending a pregnancy is murder? Abortion is a different issue than any other. How can you get upset with sometime who is “pro-life” if they truly believe that abortion is murder?

            1. Perhaps because you believe that no one should be able to dictate what someone else does with their body?

              1. Ah, murder away because I shouldn’t be able to tell you not to murder! Again, pro-choice here, but one would have to be pretty dense to not understand where the other side is coming from.

                  1. Why is is outside the realm to believe that some folks can honestly believe that killing a fetus is murder? I don’t share that belief, but I can certainly understand those that do. On this issue, I think it’s time that both sides understands that neither side can be “wrong”.

            2. “How can you get upset with sometime who is “pro-life” if they truly believe that abortion is murder?”

              I’ll tell you how. If those opposed to legal abortion truly believed that, they should also be in favor of birth control being widely available and as cheap as possible. Instead, the opposite is generally true, which tells me the real issue is more about controlling women than protecting fetuses.

              1. While I won’t argue with you (even though I really don’t think MOST pro-choice folks just want to control women), that’s why I said people who “truly believe”….

        2. “We simply believe, as reasonable people do, that those who are in the top 1% holders of wealth/income should actually pay their fair share, instead of receiving corporate welfare.”

          Talk about eyeroll. This is a pure political talking point, with no meaningful content whatsoever.

      3. I think what rubbed some people (at least me) the wrong way was the suggestion that staying in Decatur and paying higher taxes was a choice available to everyone.

        I’d like to (attempt to) offer a partial defense of VL’s comment after making fun of it. It’s true that, for some people, higher taxes and increased property values are forcing them out of Decatur.

        But there are some people who, while it’s financially better for them to leave the city, they’re not in the same boat as the people being forced out. They’ll do better on taxes and probably get a nicer place in AE, Midway Woods, Kirkwood, or East Lake. Nothing wrong with that, I’d move too if I were in their place (although we breeders need them around). But they’re not being forced to move out due to financial necessity.

        I think some people are bothered when the two groups are conflated, when it’s suggested that “I would be financially better off not living in Decatur” is taken to be the same as “I can’t afford to live in Decatur at all.” Not sure if that makes any sense.

        On a related note, there is a group of people on here and other sites who
        (1) moved to Decatur in the last decade;
        (2) didn’t know the schools had a good reputation;
        (3) don’t appear to have comparisoned shopped in nearby neighborhoods, and didn’t notice that you could get a nicer place In Kirkwood or Avondale Estates for a lot cheaper;
        (4) didn’t and/or don’t plan on having kids; and
        (5) complain (understandably) about our onerous taxes.

        I feel sorry for these people, I really do, but not that sorry for them in the grand scheme of things. I think the fact that they did (1) and (3) means that they’re pretty well off and could have researched a teeny bit more.

        1. “It’s true that, for some people, higher taxes and increased property values are forcing them out of Decatur.”

          To be fair, isn’t it really the latter that’s driving the increases? Haven’t tax rates been slightly reduced? There would probably be room to reduce them further–if not for the fact that so many people with kids keep moving in.

  10. Yay! Liberals this, and conservatives that. I’ve changed my mind at least 5 times in the last hour trying to decide which one I should be.

    The next presidential election is looking like scads of fun.

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