Challenger Marty Smith, a Carrollton developer and political newcomer, scored a landslide victory over Chappell, winning in all 30 precincts and capturing nearly 68 percent of the vote.
“Obviously, it was very disappointing to me,” Chappell said Wednesday. “I cannot explain it and won’t even try. There were a lot of factors and I don’t know which was which. But it is what it is and we’ll go on.”
He said he has no other political aspirations at this time.
“The chairman’s job is the highest you can go and be actively working for the people,” he said.
Chappell said he “won’t present any problems” to Smith’s transition to the office.
“I feel very strongly that the future of Carroll County is more important than political considerations,” he said.
Smith acknowledged the anti-incumbency mood. But he also praised the contributions of Walt Hollingsworth, who was the third candidate on the July 31 Republican primary ballot.
“Walt and I ran a close campaign in our platforms,” Smith said Wednesday. “A lot of folks who voted for him voted for me this time because our platforms were so similar.”
Smith said he was happy that his campaign was able to get voters back out to the polls.
He said he has no definite plans now on what changes will be made in county government, but said, “everything will be evaluated.”
Carrollton Mayor Wayne Garner noted that it was a bad day for incumbents across the state and feels Carroll County had a similar outcome.
“I hated to see Chappell lose,” Garner said. “He’s done a good job. We’ve worked well together. I’ve known Marty Smith and his family for years. He’s a good man and I think he will do a good job. The city is looking forward to working with him in any way we can.”
“It seems to be a clear and strong message of anti-incumbency,” said Robert Sanders, a University of West Georgia political science professor. “A huge turnout for a local election means there’s a lot of activist voters and they want something changed. It clearly showed strong distrust with government.”
“I think anytime an incumbent gets defeated, especially by a two-to-one margin, it sends a message that people are not happy with the status quo,” said Jim Watters, chairman of the Carroll County Tea Party and a Carrollton City Council member. “Bill ran a campaign based on what he has done and Marty ran a campaign based on what he will do. The results show that voters want new ideas and fresh leadership.”
Watters said everybody he has talked with were impressed by the voter turnout Tuesday. He said that’s a good indication they want their voices heard.
“Marty had a large base of support, distributed all over the county, that worked hard to get folks back to the polls on Tuesday,” Watters said. “Walt Hollingsworth’s support certainly helped the matter.”
Terry Agne, chairman of the Carroll County Republican Party, feels the vote reflected a discontent with Chappell from many different groups and individuals.
“There were several different factions that were upset with the way he’s run the county,” Agne said. “They liked what he did about balancing the budget and building parks, but they just disliked the way he was running the office.”
Agne said he doesn’t feel it was a single group, but several different groups and individuals who all turned out to vote against Chappell.
“It’s my experience, here in Carroll County, when voters don’t like something, they will get out and vote for change,” he said. “Apparently, they wanted real change this time.”
Agne said he was impressed that Smith got more votes in the runoff than he did in the July 31 primary. He noted that the primary vote was split nearly equally between Chappell, Smith and Hollingsworth.
“Hollingsworth played a major role in endorsing Marty and continuing to campaign for him,” he said.
He said he hopes Chappell and Smith work together for a smooth transitional period.
District 5 County Commissioner Kevin Jackson, who has often been on opposing sides of issues with Chappell, said Wednesday that the vote shows that people aren’t satisfied with the way local government is being run and the chairman’s role in it.
“It was an overwhelming majority,” Jackson said. “Definitely, the people spoke out in a very loud voice that they wanted to see change. They want to see a better working board, less bickering and more work from the chairman and board members. Smith heard that and he’s made promises to pull the board together. From the time I’ve been around him, I think he has the people skills to do that.”
“The county spoke clearly yesterday and I believe it was a win, not just for Marty Smith, but for Carroll County as well,” said District 3 County Commissioner Ashley Hendrix, who lost her re-election bid in the July 31 primary. “While we have accomplished many things, the question is, ‘what could we have accomplished with the board as a whole?’ The citizens want this from their elected officials.”
District 2 County Commissioner Vicki Anderson also feels voters see the board as an incoherent group, with one person (the chairman) making major decisions.
“With everybody working together, things are going to be fine,” Anderson said. “The people came out yesterday and said they want to be represented by the people they elected.”
Hollingsworth downplayed his contributions.
“I think Marty got out there and outworked him (Chappell),” Hollingsworth said. “I didn’t do anything other than what I said I’d do. I’m not going to take credit for his victory. I think everybody wanted a change, across the board. Bill’s voters didn’t come back out. People who were with me switched over to Marty. I did make some calls for him, but he would have done the same for me, if it’d been the other way around. If you look at the ratios in the primary, Chappell was beaten there.”