While the candidate race for the two contested Dunwoody City Council slots went overwhelmingly to the incumbents, the surprise of the night was the resounding defeat of a $60 million bond referendum that would have funded the construction of parks and trails in the city.
While Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch and Council-at-Large Member John Heneghan were both running unopposed, the contended council races were won by incumbents Stacey Harris and Joe Seconder.
Unofficial results saw Harris defeat Chris Ozor with 77% of the vote, while Seconder bested Marianella Lopez with 70% of the vote.
The hotly debated bond referendum went down by an unofficial vote of 43-57 percent, with 1,672 people voting in favor and 2,110 opposed.
The bond would have funded the buildout of Wildcat and Homecoming Parks, new softball fields, improvements to Brook Run and other area parks, and four multi-use trails.
The pro-bond group said they were disappointed in the outcome, laying the blame on the opposition’s disinformation campaign.
For months, the pro-bond supporters have railed against a group called “Vote No” for its campaign that they claimed laid out a skewed view of the way the bond money was to be spent and claimed that the city would be given a $60 million blank check to spend without consequences or oversight.
Michael Rock of “A Better Dunwoody,” the group supporting the bond, said the defeat of the measure meant a lost opportunity for the city to attract people and businesses to the community.
“It’s been made clear that the citizens aren’t interested in investing in the infrastructure that makes other cities desirable places to live, work and play,” he said. “Dunwoody will continue to be further behind the other cities in our area that have chosen to make this investment.”
Councilman Tom Lambert, a vocal proponent of the bond, said the voting process “has been guided by our residents from day one and today was no exception.”
“We accept the will of the voters but remain committed to moving Dunwoody forward in a positive way,” Lambert said.
Deutsch echoed his sentiments.
“The bond election led to a robust discussion of community priorities and put an important decision in the hands of voters,” she said. “This is exactly how a democracy should work. I look forward to future community conversations.”
Bob Hickey of the opposition group said they are not celebrating the results of the vote.
“We are very distressed that the bond vote became so divisive with our fellow friends, neighbors and kids,” Hickey said. “We undertook this pushback from our mayor and city council solely because we believe there is a better solution than putting us in debt for unwanted and unneeded bike lanes and trails on already crowded and congested streets.”
As for what will happen with the undeveloped land that was slated to be Wildcat and Homecoming Parks, Lambert said “that’s the $60 million question.”