Social media: Facebook
Party affiliation: Independent / unaffiliated
Salary: $1,600 per year. I’ve never taken it. I am a volunteer.
Second job: Retired entrepreneur. 7x Inc. Magazine 500/5000 fastest growing privately held companies award-winner. Founder of DPM Fragrance – maker of Capri Blue Candles.
What are the three most pressing issues you believe your city faces, and how will you address them? What people or entities will you enlist to get these things done?
1. Traditional Development Pressure – The near-in suburbs, particularly on the Southside, have often been seen as home for low quality sprawl development, which creates both low quality of life and a small tax base.
2. Negative Opinion of the South Side – Outdated racial perspectives cloud developers’ vision of what is ‘appropriate’ for this side of town (which is why so many of our neighbors have so many distribution warehouses right next to residential. Can you imagine that happening in Roswell?) That needs to change – everyone, regardless of their demographics – deserves access to a well-designed and livable community with quality jobs and appropriate business neighbors.
3. Short term financial pressures – Until more development happens, our city’s budget is very limited. We need more tax revenues to support necessary services, and even more so, infrastructure (like funds to keep our roads in good shape!). We also need help with other important infrastructure (like high-speed internet, for example, which is critical for modern-day development).
Are you spending any of the American Rescue Plan funds on rent relief? If so, how much?
What are the biggest challenges for recruitment and retention of police and other city personnel?
Maintaining competitive wages in a very competitive regional environment. We’re doing the best we can in that regard (in the context of a limited budget) and have the advantage of rally great working conditions. It’s a well policed and well protected area, with limited crime and a fairly low Police and Fire tempo, and a place where community connectivity is very high. Our Public Safety staff knows our community personally and has a high level of support – it’s the sort of place many folks dream of working in.
Describe the challenges you face with reaching constituents and how you plan to connect and communicate with residents, including social media.
It’s a small and very connected town, so it’s easy to know a lot of people personally. That said, we are very underserved from our internet providers (in great part because of our low density), so that’s a real issue of focus for me. We also have limited staff, so (unlike many neighbors), that communication is handled directly and personally. We also have a robust (mostly volunteer) community e-newsletter that we mail to folks without internet to help keep folks up to date and connected. Takes time, but it’s worth it.
In a 2020 interview with Serenbe Stories, you said that Chattahoochee Hills cannot keep up with road maintenance, and the city’s biggest need is increased revenue from development, which will fund land preservation and infrastructure. Describe your plans to support economic growth while preserving greenspace in Chattahoochee Hills.
We are doing everything we can to entice sympathetic development partners to come to Chattahoochee Hills. You have to want to be in this environment, as the rules are different, and that takes extra work for a developer up front. We use a Transfer of Development Rights Ordinance to move density from protected open space (farms and the like, which receive money NOT to develop) and move those development rights onto more dense walkable communities. This will end up permanently protecting about 70% of our landmass as forest, farm, and parkland – a huge quality of life benefit for our residents. The other payoff is higher value development – Developers working here make more money (and we get a higher tax base).
You are a vocal proponent of regional collaboration. Describe why this is important for you and Fulton County as a whole.
As I mentioned previously, the South Side of Atlanta has been bypassed by economic investment in great part due to historical racial issues. There is an equity imperative to correct that imbalance. But even for people who don’t care about the equity aspect, study after study has shown that investments in historically disinvested areas have a higher rate of return that investments in historically rich neighborhoods. Everyone deserves a shot at a better life for their families – but investing in making that happen actually benefits EVERYONE. Chattahoochee Hills is proving that high-value development with high quality of life can occur on the South Side. The enormous impact of the Atlanta Airport provides regional economic lift to that – The Aerotropolis Corridor which leads from the Airport to Chattahoochee Hills is the highest-value development zone in Georgia, and possibly the nation. It is incumbent upon all of us to leverage those facts to the benefit of our entire region.
Describe a lesson you learned during your previous term(s) and how that knowledge will help guide your upcoming term.
It’s really tough to keep on top of all of the things that need attention when you have a tiny staff – no matter how good they are. We continue to add capacity as budget allows, but I’m personally trying to do a better job of budgeting my time on the most strategically important issues that will most effect our long-term outcomes, and perhaps less on contentious but not strategically important issues.
Click here for an interactive map to learn more about Chattahoochee Hills. (Created by Maggie Lee)