Lori Henry wins election for mayor of Roswell

For the first time in its history, the City of Roswell will have a woman mayor.

Lori Henry was elected to the seat in Tuesday night’s runoff election, defeating Lee Jenkins. Henry grabbed 55 percent of the vote, but the two candidates were separated by just 1,161 votes.

The city will also welcome two new members to its council in Sean Groer and Matt Judy. In total, 11,941 people voted in the mayoral runoff.

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Henry, 62, will move just a few seats down in the council chambers when she takes office. The graduate of Ohio State University was serving out an unexpired term for the Post 4 seat, following the resignation of Kent Igleheart. Henry also previously served on the council from 2001 to 2009.

This was Henry’s second time running for mayor of Roswell. She launched an unsuccessful campaign for the office in 2009, but was defeated by Jere Wood.

Henry will now succeed Wood, who did not seek re-election after a judge ruled he had violated term limits. When that ruling came down, Henry announced her candidacy just days later. Wood, who had been the city’s mayor since 1997, has said that he wouldn’t have run for another term even if the judge ruled in his favor.

The AJC has reported that Wood, 68, will challenge Betty Price for her seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. Wood told the AJC that he supported Jenkins in the race.

Jenkins is a businessman and the founder and pastor of Eagles Nest Church. The 56-year-old is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he played football and was eventually drafted by the New York Giants.

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Henry and Jenkins were the two candidates to emerge from a crowded field that went to a vote on Nov. 7. There were initially five candidates in the race, but Sandra Sidhom dropped out after Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard ruled that she was ineligible because she had not lived in Roswell for at least a year prior to the election. Councilman Donald J. Horton and resident Michael Litten, who’s lawsuit led to the judge’s ruling on Wood, also ran.

After not advancing to the runoff, Horton threw his support behind Jenkins. Councilmembers Marcelo Zapata and Mike Palermo endorsed Henry.

In the council races that went to the runoff, Groer topped Mike Nyden by 858 votes to win the Post 3 seat, which Horton gave up to run for mayor. In the Post 6 race to succeed Nancy Diamond, who did not seek re-election, Judy edged out Karen Parrish by 2,208 votes.

In the November election, Matthew Tyser and Marie Willsey won council seats outright. Tyser will take the Post 5 seat to succeed Jerry Orlans, who did not seek re-election, and Willsey will succeed Henry as the Post 4 councilmember.

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Henry is Roswell’s third mayor since 1967, following two men who served long terms. She is a mother, a wife, the owner of a small business and has lived in Roswell for more than 35 years.

“Roswell needs my leadership right now,” Henry told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “We have just been doing things a certain way for so many years, and I think we need to look at things in a new light. I think I can hit the ground running.”

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