Qualifying complete for upcoming Kennesaw election

Brick Kennesaw government building with four tall wooden columns

By Rebecca Gaunt

Seven candidates qualified for Kennesaw’s November mayoral and city council election.

Mayor Derek Easterling, who was first elected in 2015, is running for reelection unopposed. 

Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling
Mayor Derek Easterling Photo c/o city of Kennesaw

Four candidates are vying for the Post 1 seat currently occupied by Lynette Burnette. Burnette won a seven-way special election last November after James “Doc” Eaton resigned.


Burnette, a corporate flight attendant, is running for reelection and will be up against two familiar faces and one newcomer.

Lynette Burnette c/o city of Kennesaw
Lynette Burnette Photo c/o city of Kennesaw
Jon Bothers (blue jacket, no tie)
Jon Bothers — photo provided by the candidate
Madelyn Orochena c/o Orochena in pink blouse
Madelyn Orochena — Photo provided by the candidate

Both Jon Bothers, a real estate broker, and Madelyn Orochena, a stay-at-home mom, also ran in the special election for Post 1. Orochena was certified as the winner before learning that a memory card with 789 additional ballots had not been uploaded properly by an election worker on election night. A recount concluded Burnette had won by a margin of 29 votes.

Bothers told the Courier, “As a dedicated resident of this vibrant community, I believe that our city deserves leadership that embodies the values and principles that make us strong…our city’s potential is limitless, but it requires leaders who are committed to the highest standards of conduct, who champion accountability, who protect against the forces of gentrification, and who prioritize the interests of Kennesaw and its citizens above all else.”

Bothers also ran for the council in 2021.

In Orochena’s candidacy announcement she wrote, “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’m dedicated to serving the people of Kennesaw with the humility to listen, the courage to speak up, and the willingness to work hard.”

Kyle Magro, a general manager, is the fourth contender for Post 1.

City council member Tracey Viars is running for reelection to Post 2. Anthony Gutierrez, a communications coordinator who ran in last year’s special election, is challenging her.

Tracey Viars standing by a brick wall
Tracey Viars — Photo provided by Viars
Anthony Gutierrez c/o Gutierrez (red tie)
Anthony Gutierrez — Photo provided by the candidate

Viars said, “I love this city and I’m proud of the work we’ve done thus far! I’m ready to bring my years of experience, fortified by my passion for the city and dedication to a results-driven track record, back for another term as we work together to keep Kennesaw on track.”

Viars was first elected in a 2018 special election.

Gutierrez told the Courier in an email, “We need voices in our city council who think further ahead than just the next meeting, elected officials who understand and are undergoing the same struggles as their constituents. Ones that aren’t afraid to discuss the difficult things, like the gentrification of our city and how it’ll lead to many of us being priced out of the homes we’ve built our lives in.”

The election will take place Nov. 7. Mayor and city council positions are nonpartisan and serve at-large.

All candidates were contacted for comment.

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.