By Rebecca Gaunt
Madelyn Orochena hasn’t given up on her hopes for Kennesaw City Council, despite the unexpected twist that occurred in the previous election.
Orochena was preparing to be sworn in last November after winning a seven-way special election when she got a shocking phone call from Janine Eveler, the now-retired director of Cobb County elections.
She learned there had been an error. An election worker failed to upload a memory card with 789 ballots on election night. The updated count tipped the close Post 1 race from being in Orochena’s favor by 16 votes to another candidate, Lynette Burnette, by 31.
Orochena requested a recount, which narrowed the margin to 29 votes. Orochena finished with 1,726 votes and Burnette with 1,755. Many of the candidates expressed surprise at the new results since Burnette’s campaign had largely gone under the radar. She was the only candidate who declined to speak to the local media, take part in organized debates, or maintain any kind of online presence or platform.
In an announcement sent to the Courier last week, Orochena wrote that she is “excited to officially announce my candidacy for Kennesaw City Council. I am proud to represent a growing number of young people who are eager to get involved in their communities and be a part of the decision making in their local government. Growing up in Kennesaw, I feel deep gratitude for the life I’ve had here: the community that has molded me, mentored me, supported me, kept me safe, and encouraged me. I am dedicated to serving the people of Kennesaw with the humility to listen, the courage to speak up, and the willingness to work hard. I look forward to representing the people of Kennesaw.”
The 2022 special election was triggered when James “Doc” Eaton resigned over a new owner being issued a license to reopen Wildman’s Civil War shop on Main Street. The store’s contents, including a Ku Klux Klan robe with a noose, and a facade flying Confederate flags and displaying a “White History Year” sign, have long been a source of controversy for the city.
Orochena has not yet announced which post she is seeking in 2023. She told the Courier she will announce that as soon as she officially qualifies.The qualification dates are Aug. 21, 22, and 23. The election is Nov. 7.
City Council holds staggered elections, and this year Mayor Derek Easterling faces reelection, as does Burnette for Post 1, since Eaton’s original term ends, and Post 2 Councilwoman Tracey Viars.
Council members Pat Ferris, Antonio Jones, and Trey Sinclair face reelection in 2025.
All council members serve at large, meaning everyone inside the city limits can vote for all members. It is a nonpartisan position.