Cobb County

Al Thurman Elected First Cobb African-American Mayor

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By Tasnim Samma /Posted Dec. 3, 2015


Al Thurman, a former Powder Springs City Council member, will become the first African-American mayor of any city in Cobb County.

He won a run-off election Tuesday -- a sign, experts say, that demographics in the city are changing.

Al Thurman defeated Powder Springs physician and councilman Chris Wizner, by 179 votes, or more than 14 percent. ...

Powder Springs 

According to the 2010 census, nearly 50 percent of the city of Powder Springs population is African-American and nine percent identifies as Hispanic or Latino.  

“In Cobb County, a number of state legislators are now African-American and they’ve supplanted white Democrats who used to hold those seats, so I look at the Powder Springs mayoral election as the continuation of a trend where the county is becoming increasingly diversified," explained Kerwin Swint, a professor at Kennesaw State University who lives near Powder Springs in Cobb County.

Swint said the southern halves of both Cobb and Gwinnett counties in the last five to 10 years are seeing greater minority representation in state and local government. 

The current mayor, Pat Vaughn, is retiring this year after serving the city for more than a decade. 


Low voter turnout in Cobb's Tuesday election follows trend and Campaign disclosure reports reveal funding gaps for Cobb municipal candidates

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The Marietta Daily Journal
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by Ricky Leroux
November 05, 2015 12:00 AM
MARIETTA — Voter turnout in Austell, Kennesaw, Powder Springs and Smyrna for Tuesday’s elections was low — about 18 percent of registered voters cast ballots — but Cobb’s Board of Elections director said this is a typical for a municipal election.
“Anything in that 17 to 22 (percent) range is about what we usually see,” said Janine Eveler, Cobb elections director. “For some reason, people just don’t come out for the local elections like they do for the national ones. … It’s funny because they have so much more influence on your life at the local level. But it’s not as exciting? I don’t know.”
In 2012, when there was a presidential race on the ballot, about 74 percent of registered voters in those same four cities went to the polls.
Kerwin Swint, professor of political science at Kennesaw State University, was not surprised by the turnout numbers.
“That’s why they call them off-year elections,” Swint said. “Interest is way down. The local candidates don’t have nearly the advertising budgets to do radio spots, TV spots. It’s not on people’s radar near as much as when you have the excitement and all the media coverage of a presidential or even gubernatorial campaign.” ...



November 03, 2015 12:15 AM

MARIETTA — A look at the campaign disclosure reports for candidates taking part in today’s city elections reveal some discrepancies in the fundraising among candidates.

However, money isn’t everything in local elections, according to Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University.

“At this level, money’s not as important as it would be for, say, a statewide or congressional race,” Swint said.

Money can give candidates an edge when it comes to purchasing yard signs and mailers or having candidate meet-and-greets, Swint said, but fundraising advantages don’t always result in winning.

“If you’re able to raise more money, then you’re better able to afford all those things that are going to get you voter contact,” Swint said. “You can have radio spots or mailed brochures. You are better able to position yourself, but the caveat there is it’s not always the person that wins. In local elections, sometimes a candidate that is less funded but they have a better turnout mechanism or they have something else working in their favor can win.”

Bigger factors in local races are name recognition, reputation among voters and getting out the vote, Swint said. ...

‘La boheme’: KSU voice teacher to perform in Puccini’s classic

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The Marietta Daily Journal
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by Therra C. Gwyn
October 01, 2015 12:00 AM | 626 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kennesaw State University voice teacher Leah Partridge will perform as Musetta in the Atlanta Opera’s production of ‘La boheme’ at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. The opera opens Saturday.
Kennesaw State University voice teacher Leah Partridge will perform as Musetta in the Atlanta Opera’s production of ‘La boheme’ at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. The opera opens Saturday. 
Partridge appears in the Atlanta Opera’s 2009 production of ‘The Elixer of Love.’
Partridge appears in the Atlanta Opera’s 2009 production of ‘The Elixer of Love.’
Setting: Paris’ Latin Quarter. A group including philosophers, musicians and young lovers gather in the pre-Christmas cold. They discuss art, dodge the landlord and act out a mating dance fraught with frustrations and elegantly infused with the hope of youth.

It’s “La boheme,” Giocomo Puccini’s durable masterpiece about young bohemians living in France in the 1840s. Times may change, but the fire of youth does not, as this grand production by The Atlanta Opera illustrates.

Kennesaw State University voice teacher, soprano Leah Partridge, calls the classic opera “beautiful.” 

She would know, from the inside and firsthand.

Partridge is cast as Musetta, one of the pivotal young lovers in Puccini’s tale of passion and loss. She plays opposite baritone Trevor Scheunemann as her temperamental boyfriend Marcello.

Italian soprano Maria Luigia Borsi is lead character Mimì. Tenor and fellow Italian Gianluca Terranova plays her paramour, Rodolfo.

Of her European castmates Partridge said, “There are many great American singers, but they (Borsi and Terranova) are amazing. People who know voices are going to be surprised at the beauty of theirs.”

It was a long, red dirt Georgia road for Partridge from a childhood in small town Lincolnton where she grew up listening to gospel and country music and where Puccini seemed like something from another planet.

“I didn’t grow up with opera,” she said. “I didn’t understand it. I didn’t even know you could be such a thing as an opera singer.”

Still, she studied voice and, after getting an undergrad degree from Mercer, she was off to graduate studies at Indiana University in Bloomington.

“A big opera factory,” she said, a fond reference to the college known as a top music school for the art form.

Another member of Partridge’s family has found his way onstage for this production: her dog, Bingo. The Jack Russell Terrier has his own Facebook page and appears in Act II, which also features a children’s chorus.

“He’s great onstage,” she said of the energetic pet she calls “the world’s first opera barker.” 

Bingo has been rehearsing his entrance like every other member of the cast. Partridge routinely posts photos of him online running around with a toy bone before settling down to the business of “La boheme.”

No microphones are used during the show for the singers.

“We train our voices like athletes, in order to be heard over the orchestra,” Partridge said.

About this production of “La boheme,” the soprano said, “It’s just so beautiful. If you’ve never been to an opera this is a great ‘first one.’”

The Atlanta Opera presents “La boheme” at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, opening Saturday and running for four performances through Oct. 11.

For more information and ticket purchasing, visit

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MDJ Time Capsule: The Week of May 14

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The Marietta Daily Journal
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by Damon Poirier
May 15, 2015 04:45 PM | 784 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
May 8, 1995 A1 Front

This week’s Time Capsule looks at the Lusitania, Leo Frank, Lockheed, Delk Road, KSU, Newt Gingrich and Jesse Jackson.

100 years ago …

In the Friday, May 14, 1915 edition of The Marietta Journal and Courier there was a story that reported “one of the greatest horrors of the great European War occurred last Friday when a German submarine boat torpedoed the great English trans-Atlantic Liner Lusitania.” ... 


50 years ago …


Dr. Horace W. Sturgis, associate registrar at Georgia Tech since 1948, was reported in the Friday, May 14, 1965 paper as having been named the president of Kennesaw Mountain Junior College, which is now known as Kennesaw State University. Dr. Sturgis was to start his official duties on July 1, 1965. ...

Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator for the Marietta Daily Journal.

If you are interested in learning more about the stories that were presented in this week’s column, you can search the newspaper’s digitized microfilm archives online. NewsBank, which hosts the archives for the Marietta Daily Journal, charges a fee for retrieved articles and has various price packages available. If you have any trouble with your username, password or payment options, please contact NewsBank at

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Cobb transportation officials address BRT, bikes, Braves at town hall meeting

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Marietta Daily Journal
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KENNESAW — On the heels of the groundbreaking ceremony for SunTrust Park, the 41,500-seat stadium for the Atlanta Braves, leaders of transportation agencies in Cobb met Thursday to assure residents they are working to improve the county’s roads.

About 100 people attended the town hall meeting at Kennesaw State University’s Continuing Education Center.

Residents attended with varied agendas. Some wanted improvements made to the county’s community transit bus system, others advocated for more biking trails and another resident wanted county Chairman Tim Lee’s proposed bus-rapid transit system.

Charley Levinson, who works at BCT Printing in Norcross and ran for Marietta mayor in the last election season, said he uses mass transit every day to get to work, and he wants the county to implement a bus rapid transit system. 

“I hope it’s in the works soon,” Levinson said. “It’s either the BRT or nothing, and nothing is the absolute worst thing for this county.”

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Debates could impact undecided voters

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Fox 5 News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2012 4:58 PM EDT Updated: Oct 22, 2012 5:47 PM EDT

Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré to speak at Kennesaw State University on Oct. 29

Honore Headshot.jpg

Honoré, who led recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, will speak about leadership and preparedness.

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 22, 2012) — U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré brought calm and order to the chaos that followed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. Now retired, Honoré speaks candidly about what it takes to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.


Superior Court challenger cries foul

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Marietta Daily Journal
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by Jon Gillooly
June 21, 2012 01:42 AM   

MARIETTA — Attorney Nathan Wade, who is attempting to unseat Cobb Superior Court Judge Reuben Green in the July 31 election, believes it is wrong that Green is listed as the incumbent on the ballot.

Green was appointed to the bench, not elected, Wade pointed out during a candidate forum held by the Cobb Republican Women’s Club on Tuesday.

Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Green to the Cobb Superior Court in 2010.

“This seat was held by long-time Judge Kenneth Nix,” Wade said. “Upon his retirement, there was an appointment that was made … without there being any interviews or without there being the opportunity for any qualified candidates to I guess submit a resume and interview for the position. I would have loved to have stacked my resume against the individual who got the appointment.”

Wade went on to say that he will be listed near the end on the ballot.

“I will not have the ‘incumbent’ next to my name,” Wade said. “‘Incumbent,’ I believe, should be reserved for those individuals who have been elected. I don’t think there really is an incumbent in this race. Neither of us have been elected. So please, ignore the incumbent mark.”

Green did not respond to Wade’s comments when he was given the floor.

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University who specializes in elections, said the ‘incumbent’ note is powerful.

“When voters see the ‘i’ next to the judge’s name, that’s usually who they vote for because they don’t know any better,” Swint said. “The average voter doesn’t know what kinds of decisions the judge has made or really much about their reputation unless they happen to be in the court or a lawyer, that kind of thing, so it’s an uphill battle to any challenger.”

Transit tax opposition getting louder in Cobb County

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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By Janel Davis

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If you go to almost any public meeting in Cobb County — no matter the topic — conversation is most likely to turn to the proposed regional transportation referendum.  

And the voices you’ll hear are often opponents strongly sharing their misgivings. With the county’s commission chairman’s race about to officially launch, the conversation is expected to get even more intense as campaign rivals attack incumbent Tim Lee’s support of the transportation plan that early on included a controversial rail line in Cobb.

In July, voters from 10 counties will go to the polls to decide whether to approve a 10-year, 1 percent sales tax to pay for $6.14 billion in regional transportation projects compiled by a group of elected officials from each of the counties, known as the regional roundtable. Though Cobb isn’t the largest county in the region, it has plenty of voters and plenty of sales tax dollars.

And it could have plenty of influence. Vocal Cobb opponents are working with groups in other counties and combining resources and sweat equity for a metrowide surge. Two recent polls differ on how the referendum will fare in the suburban counties.

“Cobb is one of the spokes in the wheel. They are right in the clutch of transportation issues and traffic,” said Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University. “Cobb is a big target of voters, and turnout here will be very important here and in Gwinnett.” 

And one of Cobb’s core characteristics, he said, is its long-standing record of organized opposition. 

Lobbyists gave meals, tickets to local lawmakers

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Marietta Daily Journal
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by Jon Gillooly
February 01, 2012

MARIETTA — No one is listed receiving any yachts, but lobbyists do buy meals and smaller gifts for Cobb lawmakers.

Whether it’s state Rep. John Carson (R-east Cobb) receiving a $200 Georgia Chamber of Commerce dinner paid for by a lobbyist with the University System of Georgia or a lobbyist with the Home Depot buying state Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb) a $100 ticket to the Georgia Chamber Eggs and Issues breakfast, lobbyists must report the money they spend on lawmakers to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. ...

Dr. Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said lunches and small gifts are acceptable to most people.

“It’s the larger items that generate the questions over ethics,” Swint said. “Georgia currently has no limit at all on what lobbyists may spend on public officials, which to many people creates an environment open to the influence of money and gifts. It also puts Georgia behind many neighboring southern states, including Tennessee and Alabama, that do have limits on how much lobbyists can spend.”

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