Next Step In Roswell Elections

By Tripp Liles, editor

We get to keep the yard signs for a few more weeks…yea!

During the Nov. 7 election just over 20% of the voting population made it to the polls in Roswell. That might sound pathetic but in these municipal elections, with no national contests, it is hard to get folks out to vote. In three of the contested races there is a runoff to be held on Dec. 5 and the one getting the most attention is the mayoral race between Lori Henry and Lee Jenkins.

No matter who wins it’ll be historic in that for the first time, ever, Roswell will have a political figurehead that’s not male and Caucasian. To that end Roswell has only had two mayors since 1967, so change is indeed coming.

To be clear the mayoral position of Roswell does not have a whole lot of political power. The most notable position you’ll see them in will be smiling, holding big scissors at some ribbon cutting ceremony. In all seriousness, as far as the political side goes, the mayor appoints council members to committees and does vote in the case of a six-person city council voting evenly. But in Roswell the real power lies in the city council. And in what will be essentially a new council it’s hard to predict how those votes will go in the coming months.

On the council side there are two members, Marcelo Zapata and Mike Palermo, who remain but in January they will have four new members joining them. Two won their races outright, with Marie Willsey winning post 4 and Matthew Tyser taking post 5. In the race for post 6 Karen Parrish will face Matt Judy in the runoff. Judy narrowly missed the 50% threshold by gaining 49.38% of the vote. In the race for post 3 Sean Groer faces Mike Nyden in what promises to be a close contest with Groer capturing 25.53 % to Nyden’s 29.29%.

A common thread in all of these races is the issue of development. The narrative of how to grow in U.S. suburbs is as old as…well the suburbs. It has always been an issue and…you may want to be seated for this…always will be. To those who follow Roswell politics the Unified Development Code is a buzzword akin to Obamacare. You’ll see it referenced throughout campaign websites and it is essentially the city’s overall development code.

This publication wrote extensively about it in 2013 as it was being passed through council and many citywide meetings. A book could be written about the ins and outs of it, I will not bore you, but I bring it up because it is frequently mentioned. The UDC’s premise is/was simple. It worked to establish a consistent format that can be easily understood by not only administrators and developers, but also by the general public. The UDC addresses all aspects of zoning in the City, including residential, civic, industrial and other districts. It is not the root of any evil.

Simply put development is going to happen. We live in a capitalist society and people who own land are going to want to maximize value. You are not going to stop it. But it can be managed. Essentially a community can have either good development or bad but you’re going to get something. This election decides what you’re going to get. If you want to read more on the subject here is a link to an article in our Nov. issue.

The runoff election is on Dec. 5 and I strongly encourage you to participate. Having the future of a city decided by less and a quarter of its citizens is not a healthy position.

If you want more info on these candidates here are links to each of their websites that spell out their individual positions.


Lori Henry

Lee Jenkins

Council Post 3

Sean Groer

Mike Nyden

Council Post 6

Matt Judy

Karen Parrish