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Johnston wins Ward 1, Mills wins Ward 2

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By Andrea Tritschler

Newcomer Matt Johnston beat out incumbent Joan Kniss for a city council seat in Brighton's Ward 1, according to unofficial results.

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"I'm so thankful to all of the people that supported me I was told by political insiders there was no way we could win and there was no way to do anything," Johnston said. "Its good to see that the neighbors coalesed around these issues. It's astounding." 

It was a close race - Johnston won with 661 votes, while Kniss had 587 votes, a difference of 74 votes.

The race for Ward 1 was close in November, too. Both Johnston and Kniss came within 55 votes of each other during the November election. Kniss congratulated Johnston on his win.

Johnston ran on a platform he said would mean all residents of Brighton would pay equal tax amounts. As a resident of Brighton East Farms subdivision, he argued that he and his neighbors pay higher property taxes than other Brighton homeowners but don't see extra benefits in the form of improved roads, parks and other amenities.

Kniss ran on a platform of community engagement, and on working within the city budget while providing quality services and planning for the future. Kniss said important elements of her campaign included advocating for smart growth management, creating a long-term water plan and public safety improvements.

"I greatly appreciate the support I have had for four years, and it has truly been an honor to serve.  I have worked hard and tried to be ethical and responsive," Kniss said in an email. "Now, we all must stand together and support our newly elected officials. We have a great city, and we need to work cooperatively and mend walls so that 2018 is the best year ever."

In Ward 2, Greg Mills won by more than 100 votes, or 642 votes compared to opponent Ferman Maestas's 418 votes. Mills will take over the seat left vacant by Rex Bell, who was term-limited.

"It feels good to have ran a clean campaign and to have used a lot of the resources and made it pay off," Mills said "I'm happy to be in this position, and I'm excited to serve the citizens of Brighton." 

While Mills doesn't have prior experience in city government, he has been attending city council meetings. He had more votes than either candidate in the November election with 578 votes.  

"I think what really helped a lot was i was accessible to people with my website and the literature I passed out and I had a way to have people contact me... I think people appreciate that," Mills said.

Both Mills and Maestas said they wanted smart growth, that they wanted to manage the city budget and that they wanted to communicate with constituents. Mills said he wants to preserve historic downtown Brighton and protect the city’s water sources.

"I would like to Congratulate Gregory Mills on a job well done," Maestas said.  "I would like to thank my family, friends and election committee for putting in all their time and effort to help me with my campaign.  Also, I would like to thank the City of Brighton for giving me this opportunity."

Johnston and Mills will begin their terms in January. The city last had a run-off in 2013 for a Ward 4 city council member. State rules call for a runoff election in races where no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the November election.