If you call, City of Lovejoy Mayor Bobby Cartwright is sure to answer. He takes pride in being one of the few elected officials to post his cell phone number publicly.
Cartwright is a self-described old-school farm boy and a man with many hats. He has 13 years of military service under his belt, owns several companies and has been the mayor of Lovejoy since 2012.
Cartwright dipped his toe in the political waters in 2001 when there was a vacancy on the city council.
“I was a new guy in town running against a citizen that had been there forever,” he said. “I beat him by six votes.”
As one of his main priorities Cartwright helps keep Lovejoy, a city with about 6,500 residents, feeling like a small town.
“It’s probably the last Mayberry in the world,” Cartwright said, referring to the setting of “The Andy Griffith Show.” “I don’t have a time limit on how long you speak at the city hall. But I don’t need a public forum to do my job. If you call me, I will take care of it that day.”
Cartwright is also a major advocate for public transportation.
He recalled backing C-TRAN, a bus system for Clayton County that shut down in 2012, and hoped to save “what little public transit we had.”
In 2015, the MARTA bus service expanded through Clayton County, and the system is heavily used today, according to the mayor.
Cartwright’s lasting legacy, though, he says, is the City of Lovejoy’s Community Garden.
The garden, sitting on 14 acres of land, is Cartwright’s passion project and dates back to his days as a city council member. What began as a few odd hours of gardening after work is now an integral part of the city.
While on the council, Cartwright saw that residents had to sacrifice healthy food for other necessities, and he saw an opportunity to help.
“My theory was that our folks in the city had to choose between quality food and medicine,” he said. “And I fixed that.”
The garden’s reach goes far beyond that today. In a record year, 500,000 lbs of produce went across their counter.
Each city resident can pick up about $30 worth of produce each month for free and pay a “super wholesale” price for anything over that amount.
The garden’s success has led to features on TV, in articles and even an offer from a developer.
The idea is to annex a chunk of land to become part of Lovejoy so the new neighborhood can access the garden.
Accomplishments aside, Cartwright gives credit to his staff and the residents of Lovejoy.
“Forget who Bobby Cartwright is. Let me give you a list of people that you sit down and interview face to face and watch an 80-year-old woman cry because I’ve helped her feed her grandkids,” he said. “My greatest success ever was putting the plow in the ground there. [The garden] has changed a lot of lives, and it will for forever.”