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Levent takes runoff
Incumbent ousted in District 3
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County will have a second new commissioner in January after Todd Levent defeated District 3 incumbent Jim Harrell in Tuesday's Republican runoff election.

Levent received 2,639 votes, or 67 percent of the total, while Harrell drew 1,310 votes or 33 percent.

No Democrat is running in the Nov. 2 general election, so Levent will fill the seat in January.

"I feel good. I feel like all the hard work paid off," said Levent, who added that he's looking forward to getting the county's finances "under

He's also planning to get residents more involved, by keeping open correspondence through e-mail and possibly producing a newsletter about upcoming issues. He felt that's why the voters supported him.

"They're looking for a voice. They want to be heard," Levent said.

Harrell declined to comment on the election.

The decision comes three weeks after the July 20 primary, which saw Pete Amos secure the Republican nomination for the District 1 commission seat. Amos will face Democrat Mary Chatfield in November.

District 1 incumbent Charles Laughinghouse chose not to seek re-election.

The summer elections were the first on the commission to feature the new district-only election format approved last year by the state.

The setup meant voting for the post was limited to residents of the particular district. Previously, candidates had to live in their district, but were elected countywide. District 3 covers the county's southwestern corner.

Levent triumphed by about the same two-thirds margin as Amos, who stopped by Robin Hood Tavern on Tuesday night to congratulate Levent at his post-election party.

Levent thanked his supporters at the gathering of about 100 in the Vickery Village restaurant.

"I couldn't have done it without everybody," he told the crowd.

Lee Cohn, a member of Forsyth Citizens for Responsible Growth, said he spent election day waving Levent signs to raise voting awareness.

The homeowners' group chose to back Levent after interviewing all the candidates and reviewing their responses to residents' questions.

"We felt Todd hands down had the closest interest to the homeowners in Forsyth County," he said.

Cohn felt that Levent would also be more in touch with residents than the incumbent.

"When you look at the turnout, being nonresponsive made a lot of people really mad," he said.

Tuck Nicholls, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said "the voters were looking for change" by electing Levent.

Moving forward, said fellow supporter Tony DeMaria, "Mr. Levent will have to live up to his promises ... Those who live up to promises get elected again."

Levent said he plans to attend as many commission meetings as he can before starting his four-year term in 2011.

"When I get in, I'll know all the issues as they come up and be prepared to deal with them," he said.

Levent also plans to take an upcoming "commissioner class" in Athens, a service offered by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.