HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council held their Regular Session shortly before the 2017 election polls closed on the evening of Nov. 7. A first reading to rescind the Franchise Ordinance, confirmed by Blue Ridge Mountain EMC to result in an additional line item on the future bills of Hiawassee citizens and businesses, was added to the agenda by Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.
The motion to repeal the controversial mandate was seconded by Councilwoman Rayette Ross.
Councilman Kris Berrong opposed the motion and declined a request for comment.
The motion passed 2-to-1.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ann Mitchell said in hindsight that she wishes the Council would have had more time to consider it.
The ordinance was adopted during Special Called Meetings held Aug. 8 to 11, 2017, less than a week after former Pro-Tem Liz Ordiales stepped down to run for Mayor.
“I’m really sorry this has become a community football,” Mayor Pro-Tem Mitchell told the community-packed room, “but it is a source of revenue that almost everyone in the state takes advantage of.” Mitchell suggested a public meeting to discuss the issue further, stating a second reading date is undetermined.
The crowd migrated to the Board of Elections building, located adjacent to City Hall, after the Council meeting adjourned to await the highly anticipated election results..
Liz Ordiales won the Mayoral post with a 70 percent lead over her opponent, Barry Keith Dearing. Ordiales’s crowd of supporters were overjoyed with the results, offering hugs of congratulations to Hiawassee’s newly elected Mayor.
Incumbent Councilman Jay Chastain Jr. lost his seat to Patsy Owens who garnered 62 percent of the votes.
“It is obvious the voters of the city of Hiawassee wanted a change,” Chastain said. “I wish the newly elected Council members the best. I want to thank the citizens for their 12 years of support.”
Nancy Noblet was elected to Post 5, securing her seat with a 55 percent lead over Anne Wedgewood.
Amy Barrett, the sole unopposed candidate in the race, will replace Post 1 Councilwoman Rayette Ross who chose to not seek re-election.
Liz Ordiales responded to FYN’s request for comment on her victory:
“Thank you for your support throughout this campaign,” Ordiales wrote. “It is a privilege and an honor to be a representative of our great city. I will not let you down and will always put Hiawassee first! Let’s get to work!”
Hiawassee City Council will be sworn into office on January 1, 2018.