Dalton elects first woman mayor in this week’s municipal elections

Contributed Photo / Annalee Harlan Sams was photographed Tuesday night after being elected the next mayor of Dalton.
Contributed Photo / Annalee Harlan Sams was photographed Tuesday night after being elected the next mayor of Dalton.

Annalee Harlan Sams made history Tuesday night when she was elected mayor of Dalton.

On her Facebook page, Sams noted she is the first female elected to the position in Dalton's 172-year history.

Sams was selected on over 68% of the ballots cast with 1,906 votes. Attorney Tom Causby received over 29% of the vote, while real estate agent Jason Burgin received about 2%.

As a member of Dalton's City Council for the past six years, Sams said she's worked with a good team of elected officials and staff — and is ready to get back to work. She expects a smooth transition when she takes the oath of office in January, she said.

"Throughout this campaign, my message has centered on a positive vision, building on the remarkable successes of our current leadership," Sams said in a text message. "The voters have graciously concurred with this vision, affirming our shared commitment to 'Keep Making Good Things Happen in Dalton.'"

(READ MORE: Outsider candidates win in Chickamauga and more Northwest Georgia election results)

Also Tuesday, Nicolas "Nicky" Lama defeated two other candidates to win the council seat Sams vacated.

Lama won with 1,656 votes or nearly 64% of the ballots cast in that race. He defeated Tyler J. Mitchell, a small business owner who won 509 votes, and Peter Pociask, a software engineer who received 435 votes.

Incumbent Aldermen Dennis Mock and Tyree Goodlett ran unopposed and were elected to new terms.

Mock received 2,350 votes. He is a former mayor of Dalton who was first elected as an alderman in 2021, fulfilling an unexpired term. The retiree also serves on several civic boards in the city.

Goodlett ran unopposed and was reelected with 2,327 votes. He was first elected in 2016 and works as a merchandising coordinator for the Dixie Group.

Sams was pleased with the interest voters showed in this year's races.

"I think last night, what was so encouraging to me was the engagement of the voters," Sams said in a phone call.

Describing her priorities as mayor, she said she wants to continue the projects started by the incumbent mayor and City Council, make Dalton a place that will attract new and former residents, and retain those who have chosen to live there.

Public safety is at the top of the list of what a city needs to thrive, she said.

David Pennington, the incumbent mayor, is serving his second stint in the position. His most recent term began in early 2020. He also served as mayor from 2008 to 2014 when he stepped down to run for Georgia governor.

(READ MORE: 3 seeking mayor's seat in Dalton; 3 others seek spot on council)

In a phone call, Lama described how he was feeling after winning a City Council seat.

"I'm feeling great," Lama said. "I'm proud to have the opportunity to serve the community. I had a lot of support from friends, family and other members of the community. I'd like to thank them."

Lama said he had spoken with incumbent members of council Tuesday after the election results were announced. No plans or priorities were discussed, he said. They just shared congratulations on the election results.

Lama will be sworn in Nov. 27 at the next Dalton City Council meeting.

"I want to be able to continue the good things Dalton has done," he said when asked about his priorities. "Continue the revitalization effort, fixing up any blight in the area."

Over the past few years, Lama said he has been involved with the growth of Dalton and wants to continue to make Dalton a better place to live, work and play. In a previous campaign interview, he said he is a small business owner who has also worked as a real estate developer and runs a construction company with his father.

He said he is humbled by the faith people have put in him, and he looks forward to honoring that with hard work.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

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