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Thursday, December 5, 2013

ARC elects Kerry Armstrong, Gwinnett County developer, as new chairman after more than 10 votes

Following more than 10 rounds of voting, Gwinnett County real estate executive Kerry Armstrong yesterday was elected chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, the planning behemoth that helps craft metro Atlanta's long-term transportation, water, and land use policies.

Starting Jan. 1, Armstrong will replace current Chairman Tad Leithead, who chose not to run for his third term. Armstrong has been a member of the ARC board since 2008 and, once his term begins, will be the commission's second consecutive citizen chairman.

"I think this election shows that the citizen member experiment was a success and that citizen members are uniquely qualified to represent the entire region," said Leithead, a former real estate developer and consultant who serves as chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District. "Kerry has tremendous experience in both the business and civic life of metro Atlanta. He is truly committed to collaboration and to the region, both of which will serve ARC well."

Armstrong's election came after an unexpected debate over procedure and questions over whether Leithead would even be allowed to cast a ballot. Following a lengthy debate over Roberts Rules of Order - Maria Saporta has a succinct rundown here - a prolonged election process began between the candidates: Douglas County Chairman Tom Worthan, Rockdale County Chairman Richard Oden, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, and Armstrong.

ARC bylaws state that in order for a candidate to win, he or she needs to garner at least 20 votes. Until that agreement is reached, the voting - in today's case, electronic voting by secret ballot - continues. After Worthan withdrew in the early rounds of voting, the votes were split between Oden, Johnson, and Armstrong. While the remaining candidates caucused in the stairwell, board members joked about ordering pizza because "it was going to be a while."

However, after acknowledging his dedication and the "110 percent" he always put into his work, Oden withdrew. Though he trailed Armstrong by only one vote, Johnson ultimately withdrew his candidacy, leaving Armstrong to be elected chairman.

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