UPDATED:Winner called in close Kennesaw City Council special election

Madelyn Orochena with husband and daughterPhoto courtesy of Madelyn Orochena

By Rebecca Gaunt

UPDATE: A memory card was not uploaded to Cobb County’s election results and the results will be recertified at a special called meeting of the Cobb election board. But Lynette Burnette is the winner in the recalculated results.

Madelyn Orochena, one of seven candidates in the special election for Kennesaw City Council Post 1, will take the spot vacated by the resignation of James “Doc” Eaton.

Orochena announced her win Tuesday on her Facebook page a week after the election. With her 1,629 votes and second-place finisher Lynette Burnette receiving 1,612 votes, it was too close to call before outstanding provisional and absentee votes were counted. The deadline for absentee ballots was Nov. 14.

Orochena will be sworn in during Monday’s regular council meeting.

“I’m feeling so excited and grateful! All the hard work of campaigning paid off. Now, time to get ready for Monday!” Orochena wrote in a message to the Courier.

Orochena finished with 1,632 votes and Burnette with 1,616.

Jason Acree received 1,233 votes, Anthony Gutierriz 1,232, David Blinkhorn 1,220, Daniel Bowie 1,087, and Jon Fred Bothers 981.

The nonpartisan council race did not require a majority. The winner only had to receive the most votes.

Orochena grew up in Kennesaw. She graduated from Kennesaw Mountain High School and has a dance degree from Kennesaw State University. She also served on the Kennesaw Arts & Culture Commission for three years, two of those as the chairperson.

Her platform emphasized supporting the arts, improving walkability, pedestrian safety, and affordability. She also expressed her concern about negative perceptions of the city as a result of Wildman’s Civil War shop continuing its Main Street operation.

Burnette, who was briefly in the lead on election night, surprised some residents who weren’t sure who she was. She did not have a candidate website or take part in candidate forums. Since she did not provide contact information on her qualifying paperwork, neither the Courier nor the Marietta Daily Journal were able to reach her to participate in election Q&As.

Eaton resigned in protest last June over the city issuing Wildman’s a new business license. Dent Myers, who owned and had operated the controversial store since 1971, died in January. His employee, Marjorie Lyon, reopened it and now operates the business.

>> Read more of our coverage of the controversy around the Kennesaw City Council election by following this link

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.