Voters in Gwinnett County, Ga., have been angry at county commission Chairwoman Lillian Webb for four years now, ever since she led a group of 26 officials on a $52,000 bond rating trip to New York City.
Last week they made good on their anger by crushing Ms. Webb at the polls, ending her bid to continue leading the government of the Atlanta-area county. Ms. Webb has been county commission chairwoman since 1985.
The two-term Republican received only 10% of the 21,569 votes cast in the Republican primary held Tuesday. That placed her third behind two challengers, businessman Wayne Will and a former president of the county home owners' association, Donna Fisher.
Both Mr. Hill and Ms. Fisher pointed to the bond rating trip in their election campaigns.
In February 1988, when Ms. Webb went to New York City to discuss an upcoming water-and-sewer bond deal with the rating agencies, she brought along an entourage that included four county commissioners, four county administrators, three members of the water authority, five outside advisers, and 10 spouses.
Controversy over the size of the group and its spending lingered, coming to a boil in November 1988 after details of the trip were made public. According to county records released at the time, those costs included a $17,550 bill for limousine service and $2,440 for theater tickets.
In February 1990, a petition for a recall vote fell only 2,445 signatures short of the 44,034 needed. The trip was also the subject of a Gwinnett grand jury investigation, which was subsequently ended without indictments.
Mr. Hill, the Republican victor in the primary, will square off against Democrat Bob Wood, former school board member, in the November general election.