JCP Candidate Forum: Smashing Success! Mayor Candidate Alex Marchetti Videos on the Issues

It was a packed clubhouse Sunday afternoon, for the JCP Mayor & City Council Candidate Forum.

Special Thanks to Karyn Greer of CBS46, Medlock Bridge HOA & all of the residents that attended. Thank you!

All the Candidates were in attendance. Unfortunately, Mayor Bodker left early after the introduction, to attend the funeral of a former city employee. Lenny Zaprowski attended the same funeral, as was able to stay an hour longer and answers questions. Below are videos of Alex Marchetti solely answering the questions:

Mayor Seat

On Traffic Congestion

City Contracts

What are some strengths and weaknesses of our police force?

What are your thoughts on how to implement the parks plan and spend the park bond monies?

Should the city be involved in providing workforce housing?

What do you want to do regarding public works outsourced to CH2?

Post 1: Issure & Lenny Forum Videos ~Traffic, Comp Plan, Dean Gardens & Taxes

Below are videos of the questions and answers from the JCP Forum

POST 1: Issure Yang & Lenny Zaprowski

Lenny: What have you done in the past 3.5 years to improve traffic?

Issure: What solutions do you propose to solve our traffic woes?


Issure: What are your thoughts on the current comp plan draft?

*Apologies to Issure, at the end of the video, her last sentence got cut off. She stated:

“We already have traffic issues, why compound it with mixed-use development”.


Lenny: What are your thoughts on the current comp plan draft?

Dean Gardens

What is an appropriate and effective tax rate for homeowners?

Thank you Issure Yang & Lenny Zaprowski for attending the JCP Forum!

Letter to the Editor: Dismayed Over Lack of HUD Funding

I attended Sunday’s September 17th candidate forum and was dismayed to hear Stephanie Endres’ position on the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding that the City was unable to fully utilize in 2015-2017 cycle and has elected not to apply for in the 2018-2020 cycle. I wish this question would have been posed to all of the candidates instead of just two because this is an important issue.

I believe turning back the CDBG money is an enormous disservice to our at-risk residents and I wanted to share my feedback and concerns. Is Johns Creek a primarily affluent community? Yes. Does this mean we don’t have people living on the edge? NO! Did our City Council consider that every high school in our city has a liaison serving homeless students? NO!

Did our City Council consider that North Fulton Community Charities regularly provides services to Johns Creek residents who cannot afford to make ends meet? Sort of…they did say that they would provide funding to North Fulton Community Charities out of the city’s operating budget, but I imagine it won’t be significant as compared to the amount of CDBG funding we could secure. Did our City Council consult with any of the organizations who provide these services before it made its decision to turn away this funding? NO! Do our citizens understand that this money is not only for brick-and-mortar projects, as Ms. Endres led people to believe during the forum? According to the state’s CDBG information, “The primary purpose of the CDBG program is to benefit low- to moderate income people by developing viable communities, providing decent housing, creating suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities.” This is much more than eliminating blight as Ms. Endres would have us believe. What our citizens are being told by our leaders is that CDBG has no use for the City of Johns Creek because we are too wealthy.

According to the state’s CDBG information, “The primary purpose of the CDBG program is to benefit low- to moderate income people by developing viable communities, providing decent housing, creating suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities.” This is much more than eliminating blight as Ms. Endres would have us believe. What our citizens are being told by our leaders is that CDBG has no use for the City of Johns Creek because we are too wealthy. The truth is poverty hides in the most affluent neighborhoods. You have no idea how many of your neighbors live paycheck to paycheck, and how many need occasional assistance to make ends meet. Johns Creek had the opportunity to use CDBG funds to benefit our citizens by partnering with North Fulton Community Charities to distribute them appropriately, yet our City leaders made a decision to turn away this money without seeking any input from the organizations who provide these services. I’d like to think that our City has more heart than this, that we would not turn our backs on neighbors in need. We have lost this opportunity for the next three years. I only hope that our next Mayor and Council will do the right thing by contacting North Fulton Community Charities for some hard data, and distributing enough money to NFCC to pay for the services they provide to our citizens on a daily basis.

Alli Neal

IGNORED: Traffic Lights Improvement Discussion

Who knew that a motel/hotel tax & performing arts center feasibility study would be a higher priority than addressing traffic congestion.

In the past several months, the Mayor and City Council have spent many hours discussing those items and not the Traffic lights, despite both being on the same agendas.

The Mayor and City Council have NOT discussed the traffic lights and improvements with the CH2 Public Works staff, despite it being on the agenda, meeting after meeting, it gets ignored.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are identified in the budget for these suggestions, the City Council and staff have not discussed. Why isn’t this a priority? If this remains in the budget, staff can spend the money on these so-called improvements without City Council input.

Source: City of Johns Creek

Ch2 ‘Perennial’ Public Works Contractor to be Rehired without Competitive Bidding!

Since the City was incorporated Ch2 has been outsourced to handle Public Works and other departments over the years.

According to the City Checkbook, in past 11 years, Ch2 has been paid a total of $49,270,000

The Contract has NEVER EVER been put out for Competitive Bidding.

Councilman Jay Lin has been busy negotiating the new contract.

View CH2 New Contract here…

View CH2 TSPLOST Contract here…

View CH2 Park Bond Contract here…

Another important contract is being renewed. SAFEbuilt, who perform the building permit and inspections for the city, has a lucrative deal. The Revenue-sharing contract is split: 60% to SAFEbuilt – 40% retained by City.

HOAs representing the MAJORITY of households in the city have a shared opinion of concern about the over-regulated permitting the city requires, which has been silenced by city staff and the majority of current elected officials for 12 full months.

View Safebuilt’s Contract here…

Source: City of Johns Creek

Bodker’s Budget Buster Highlights: We Identify the Frivolous Spending

Budget Busters = Unexpected Expenses

Mayor Bodker presented his proposed budget on August 14th, and that budget was to be voted on by the City Council on Sept 11th.  Due to the recent weather event, the new date for that vote will be Sept 19th. The release of the proposed budget occurred prior to the Labor Day holiday.  Clearly, that doesn’t provide much time to go through the 143-page document in sufficient detail, along with the other hefty agenda items such as CH2 renewal contracts.

Bodker states that a driving force in the budget process was cost containment, yet the budget is riddled with overspending.  Below is some highlights:

Across the board, ALL STAFF will receive a 3.3% merit raise, increasing to 3.5% for department heads. This is in addition to a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 1.5%. Yes, some staff deserve a raise, but ALL?

The city owns and maintains several vehicles for staff to use, but that doesn’t stop taxpayers for footing the bill with extra cash for staff to drive their own cars. Car Allowances are a big expense for the city – $49,560. City Manager department has the biggest cost at $18,360, for 4 employees. That breaks down to an average of $382 per employee EVERY month.

The staff will be well supplied, with $58,190 identified for Folders, Pens, etc.  With 219 full-time employees, that is $269 per worker on folders and pens.

$547,000 is the total for Operating Supplies. This includes important police & fire supplies, IT equipment refresh, and fun events such as the parade, art festival, and recreation activities. There are several items that can be considered frivolous, such as $13,000 for city council meals, $8,000 on shirts for employees ($50 each), and $2,500 for ink cartridges for Park Place.

Education & Training is a HUGE expense, totaling $371,718. City Council’s line item is $38,000 and includes $17,500 for travel expenses. Mayor Bodker is the big utilizer of “education & training”. He frequently travels at the city’s expense for groups and organizations that are not mandatory or essential.

Those organizations Mayor Bodker belongs to are under “Dues and Fees” and total more than $30,000.

The total cost for him to belong to these groups and attend their meetings is $68,000.

“Dues and Fees” budget for the entire city is $196,827. This composes of essential and non-essential organizations for staff.

 

$780,000 is listed for electricity for street lights and traffic signals. It is not indicated if LED lights are used to reduce the energy costs.

The City Manager has expressed a desire to have a facility for storage and maintenance activities in the Central Part of City, for $300,000.

The City Manager has over $300,000 itemized for economic development, consulting & renderings. This includes $18,000 for citizen surveys.

Also of interest is $150,000 for Urban designers and attorney for the UDC. The city has historically spent significantly for plans on redeveloping property it does NOT own. A few years ago it spent over $250,000 on the “District”.

Recently it spent $363,275 on TUNNELL SPANGLER & ASSOCIATES. They are better known as TSW, the group hired to develop the Comprehensive Use Plan draft.

Traffic Lights: The Mayor and City Council have NOT discussed the traffic lights and improvements with the CH2 Public Works staff, despite it being on the agenda, meeting after meeting, it gets ignored.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are identified in the budget for these suggestions, the City Council and staff have not discussed. Why isn’t this a priority? If this remains in the budget, staff can spend the money on these so-called improvements without City Council input.
Are these unexpected expenses frivolous to you?
Did you know your hard earned tax dollars are to be spent this way?
Source: City of Johns Creek

Flashback: City Council Discuss the Comp Plan Draft & Proposed High Density

Just a few months ago, at the last town hall on July 25th, 2017, residents and council members had serious concerns about the readability and material comprised within the Comp Plan Draft.

It was also stated during the meeting, Sept 15th is the deadline for feedback. It was also mentioned they can push the date to November if needed. Why November? Why not January or February? Whoever is elected in the coming election will have to govern with the Comp Plan, so shouldn’t they be the ones to decide what is in it and vote on it?

High Density was also a Big Concern during that Town Hall. Below is a snippet of that conversation, questioning why so much Mixed Use Development is in the draft.

Councilman Lenny Zaprowski proudly discusses allowing mixed use development in Johns Creek, how the citizens want this, referring to the comp plan draft.

So Residents, what do you think?

Should the current City Council and Mayor Vote on the comp plan draft, OR wait till after the new year, so whoever is elected or re-elected can vote on this important document?

Trey Holladay Withdraws from Post 3 Council Candidacy

Below is from Trey Holladay’s Campaign Facebook Page 9/13/17:

It has been a tremendous honor for me to be a candidate for the Johns Creek City Council. I love our city, and I wanted to make a contribution on many of the important issues and challenges we are facing. I have spent a good deal of time going door-to-door, and have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of our citizens about the issues that matter to them. Speaking and working with those wonderful people has been the highlight of this experience for me.

Having looked more closely at the race, however, I have decided that the time is not right for me to continue as a candidate for the City Council. I have therefore withdrawn my candidacy.

I fully intend to remain actively involved in our city, and to do everything I can to continue to serve our citizens. I am very grateful to the many people, including my campaign team and volunteers, who have supported me during this process.

Ask the Candidates: Discuss an issue in Johns Creek you would like to Address

Mayor Bodker Seeks to Hire Urban Designer for Medlock Bridge Rd & State Bridge Rd

Within Bodker’s 2017-18 Budget, is spending $150k on 3 new staff.

  • Urban Designer $70k
  • Graphic Designer/Illustrator $35k
  • Attorney for the Unified Development Code $45k

Budget Description

A part-time urban design consultant is needed to assist in-house staff with the development of plans for Technology Park, the shopping centers surrounding Medlock Bridge Rd. at State Bridge Rd. and the shopping centers surrounding State Bridge Rd. at Jones Bridge Rd. throughout the FY 2018.

 

The Capital Project request was indicated has HIGH PRIORITY and is noted for the Strategic Plan 3.1 & 6.4

3.1. Develop Redevelopment Plans for commercial nodes in the city

6.4. Develop a Town Center Plan (including location determination) by end of FY 2017: Catalyst, Municipal Complex, Arts Center, Conference and Hotel Space

Also noteworthy. 3.1 in the Strategic Economic Development Plan is similar:

Objective 3.1: Promote available sites and buildings. The city has a limited number of vacant sites and available buildings.

Interestingly, the Urban Designer is paid significantly more than the attorney. Both are part time positions.

This is highly controversial and questionable, for the local government to develop plans for private property. What if there is tremendous opposition to these “Urban Designs” and the council denies the rezoning of said plans, the city facilitated in making? This puts the city, property owner, and developer in a precarious situation.

Source: City of Johns Creek budget, pages 81,82,83

Land Use Comp Plan being PUSHED Thru Despite Residents Concerns

At the July 25th, 2017 Johns Creek City Council Town Hall, multiple residents complained about the overwhelming material in the Comp Plan, stating that it is very hard to review. The 244-page report is heavy on images and non-essential details, and is a monumental task just to review – even at a high level. Many of the before-and-after maps contain the same colors but represent different uses, creating confusion.*

Multiple suggestions were given to the Council and City Manager, both of whom agreed were reasonable and doable.

  • -Create a ‘lighter’ version, that had the important changes
  • -Create an Understandable ‘before’ & proposed ‘after’ map
  • -Compartmentalize the proposed changes by Character area
  • -Provide copies of the Comp Plan draft to pass around at City Hall meetings, leave in the libraries & other common areas.

It has been 45 days since the City Manager & City Council agreed to the suggestions, and NONE of have taken place.

Though the City did not make it easier for you to understand, the JCP will!!

So what are the BIG Changes in the Draft?

1) Significant increase in Mixed Use Developments

Some of the biggest changes in the Comp Plan are the conversion of commercial parcels into Mixed Use Developments, at 3 levels of intensity.

Low-Intensity 3 stories in Height & 8 units per acre 2, the proposed locations:

  • Medlock Bridge Rd & State Bridge Rd *^
  • Bell Rd & McGinnis Ferry Rd*
  • Jones Bridge Rd & State Bridge Rd*
  • Old Alabama Rd & Jones Bridge Rd*
  • Old Alabama Rd & Haynes Bridge Rd*

Medium-Intensity Mixed Use Developments is described as 4 stories & 12 units per acre and is proposed on State Bridge Rd & Kimball Bridge Rd.

High-Intensity Mixed Use Developments is described as 5 stories & 16 units per acre. It is proposed on Barnwell Rd & Holcomb Bridge Rd and in Tech Park.

This Urbanism concept should come as no surprise to longtime JCP readers who can recall our post ‘Apartments Galore in the ‘District’. As a refresher, the City paid $250k to Urban Design Associates to devise plans to redevelop a large amount of private property into a mini-Buckhead. Residents’ outrage thwarted the plans. It has now reappeared in the Comp Plan Draft.

It is absolutely stunning that with all the traffic & congestion, anyone in City Hall would consider increasing the density here.

So what is a driving force that seeks to allow Mixed Use near residential in Johns Creek? Developers and commercial property owners may desire higher density, mixed use in order to maximize the value they can realize. The denser the parcel, the more monetary yield it can produce.  Quite often during zoning hearings, developers request variances to make the development more financially viable. With Mixed Use allowed, developers can request to add-on another floor or two, to make the project even more lucrative.

 

2) Dividing & Diminishing Shakerag area

Another concerning proposed change is dividing the Shakerag area and moving a large part of it into the McGinnis Ferry Area.*** Doing so would increase the allowable density. Residents in that area prefer to remain in Shakerag with its current low density.

3) Lack of Historical Preservation

Within the Land Use Projects section, Historical Preservation was deemed NOT WARRANTEDThis would have included incorporating preservation requirements into the Zoning Ordinance for identified historical/archeological resources and cemeteries and develop a historic preservation program.

The reason described for “DROPPING” is “due to the results of the Historic Resources Survey”.**^

Unfortunately, it appears the City and Consultants did not read the Historic Resources Survey Report that Johns Creek had conducted by UGA in 2012.  On page 5, it states the following: “This basic, standard survey does not gather all the kinds of information needed in local preservation planning”.^ The report’s purpose was to identify buildings, sites, structures, and objects of historical, architectural, and cultural significance. ^

It is up to the municipality to formulate preservation of identified sites. Will they? Now is a good time.

 

4) Proposed New Road Along Cemetery – Inappropriately Located

The most offensive new road proposed, abuts the Macedonia Freed Slave Cemetery. As if it wasn’t desecrated enough, the Consultants and City Staff included the road in the draft plan.^* It is envisioned with potential redevelopment of 3 stories of mixed use.

5) Road Widenings

Several Roads are indicated in the plan for widening^^*. Some of these projects will take away the residential feel.

Millions have been spent on the sidewalks and median beautification on State Bridge Rd. Now it is slated for 6 Lanes as a TSPLOST project, and on the land use draft. Where will these lanes go? Will the beautiful medians be removed for more pavement or the sidewalks?

Proposed Roadways

 

6) Potential Roundabouts 

The following were indicated as potential roundabouts.^**

  • Old Alabama Road at Spruill Road Potential Roundabout
  • Old Alabama Road at Autrey Falls Way Potential Roundabout
  • Jones Bridge Road at Morton Road Potential Roundabout
  • Bell Road at Old Homestead Trail/C.C Park Potential Roundabout
  • Jones Bridge Road at Sargent Road Potential Roundabout
  • Bell Road at Rogers Circle (south) Potential Roundabout
  • Bell Road at Rogers Circle (north) Potential Roundabout
  • Buice Road at Spruill Road Potential Roundabout
  • Morton Road at Cameron Forest Parkway Potential Roundabout
  • Jones Bridge Road at Douglas Road Potential Roundabout
  • Bell Road at Rogers Bridge Road Potential Roundabout
  • Parsons Road at Wilson Road Potential Roundabout
  • Sargent Road at Findley Road Potential Roundabout
  • Old Alabama Road at Waits Ferry Crossing Potential Roundabout

September 15th is when Public Feedback ends, and the Comp Plan moves forth to Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) unless City Council extends it.

Provide FEEDBACK to City Council: electedofficials@johnscreekga.gov

References

  • Comprehensive Land Use Plan – Draft
  • Historic Resources Survey Report
  • * = Pages 14 & 15 Comp plan draft
  • ** = Page 15 Comp plan draft
  • *** = Pages 10 & 11 Comp plan draft
  • **^ = Page 183 Comp plan draft
  • ^ = Page 5 Historic Resources Survey Report
  • ^* = Pages 136, 137, 212, 213 Comp plan draft
  • ^** = Pages 170, 172 Comp plan draft
  • *^ = Page 212 Comp plan draft
  • ^^* = Pages 153 Comp plan draft

Source: City of Johns Creek

Ask the Mayor Candidates: Thoughts on urbanization in Johns Creek? 

Ask the Candidates: Why do you want to be a Councilperson?

 

 

Ask the Mayor Candidates: Why do you want to be Mayor & what do you bring to the dais for the job?

Cordially Invited: To the JCP Mayor & Council Candidate Forum ~ Sunday, Sept 17th 1-3pm

 

Submit your Questions to the Forum here!

Visit Facebook Candidate Forum Event Page

Special Alert: Clerk Provides Public Wrong Email Address for Alex Marchetti

According to the Marchetti for Mayor Campaign, the Johns Creek City Clerk, published and dispensed the wrong email address for Alex Marchetti, despite providing the correct one on his qualifying forms.

Below is from his campaign Facebook page:

Important: Please Read!

Please be aware the City Clerk incorrectly typed my email address into candidate contact document.

This document has been passed around to residents, media outlets and organizations.

I have not received ANY emails, as a result of this error, and have missed important correspondence.

Please note my correct email address is:

Alex@JCMayor.com

Source: Marchetti for Mayor

Sponsored Post: Koi & Goldfish Show ~ Free Fun! Sept 30th – Oct 1st

Hot Button Issues: Term Limits & Free Speech

With all the decisions happening at City Hall, it is no wonder that many residents go to City Council meetings with the intent to speak out about issues concerning them.

From the SuperTower, Billboards, Overdevelopment, Overzealous permitting, Traffic Woes, Taxes, road widenings, etc, the topics don’t end.

More recently, many residents from the Shakerag area have been speaking out about the plans for a Mega Sports Complex on rural Bell Rd.

Concerns over traffic, congestion, lack of proper infrastructure to handle the thousands of cars per day, environmental sensitivities with the river proximity, noise, and lighting pollution (attendees, whistles and field lighting), and financial concerns with the build out costs, and yearly & long term maintenance costs & sub-police station, got more folks speaking out in City Meetings.

A steady stream of residents was questioning the judgment and motives of the leadership, over an array of issues.

Soon after, Mayor Bodker proposed and council approved limiting public comment to 30 minutes, with 3 minute maximum per speaker. Councilpersons Chris Coughlin & Stephanie Endres voted against the changes.

Councilman Lenny Zaprowski voted in favor of limiting the public comment. Although he previously stated he won’t deny residents the right to public comment, he changed his position to align with Mayor Bodker, coincidentally after the Shakerag residents spoke out about the Mega-Sports Complex, a project he’d been a big proponent of.

So how do our Sister Cities handle public comment?

Both Alpharetta and Milton have open public comments for as many residents that show up for the meetings.

In addition, they have public comment prior to voting on individual agenda items. For example, if they are voting on spending $500k on widgets, or adopting a new logo, they will listen to the resident’s feedback before voting.

Also of interest, both Cities have Term Limits for their elected officials, which is another thing Mayor Bodker refuses to do in Johns Creek.

Sources: City of Alpharetta, City of Milton & City of Johns Creek

Johns Creek Businessman, Trey Holladay, Qualifies As Candidate for City Council Post 3

Johns Creek – Republican Trey Holladay, a Johns Creek entrepreneur and Homeowners Association President, officially qualified for City Council Post 3 to replace outgoing Councilwoman Cori Davenport.

“Gridlock is too pervasive in Johns Creek. It is found on our roads and in the way our local government operates,” said Holladay. “It’s time to stop the political bickering that bogs down progress. By working together, we can implement real, meaningful solutions to our challenges, while protecting the unique charm of our community.”

In addition to announcing his campaign, Trey started to roll out an aggressive agenda to remove the gridlock from Johns Creek. Featured in Trey’s plan:

  • ~ Support road projects that alleviate traffic but also protect our residential charm
  • ~ Develop an intelligent, deliberate, and planned growth policy
  • ~ Control spending, oppose tax increases
  • ~ Quit playing political games and start solving problems
  • ~ Support term limits to ensure fresh perspectives on the Council

In 2001, Trey Holladay turned his love of skydiving into a successful career in business. He is currently celebrating his 16th year of running his own aviation and skydiving companies, with offices serving metro Atlanta and Nashville. Trey and his wife, Martha are the proud parents of three children and attend North Point Community Church.

When not working and spending time with his family, Trey enjoys flying, playing tennis, and competing in Crossfit tournaments in addition to serving our community as a member of the Abbotts Hill Elementary School Governance Council, President of the Hillbrooke Neighborhood Homeowners Association, member of the Johns Creek United Methodist Church Recreation Committee , coach for youth soccer and basketball, and by volunteering and raising money for children with special needs.

An Open Letter to the Johns Creek City Council: Are you Listening? 

With election campaigning now getting underway, I wanted to take this opportunity to address our City Council in order to make some points for your consideration as you prepare to ask me and my family for our support and our votes.  I’ll preface my statements by saying that the perspectives and opinions I’m expressing are my own and that I don’t claim to speak for others – though I will say that I’m aware that many others share some of my viewpoints.  I’ll let others speak for themselves.  In the midst of our collective voices, are you listening?

My family and I moved to what is now Johns Creek twenty years ago.  We chose this area because of the suburban residential character of the community, solid schools, and accessibility to Atlanta.  We could have chosen to focus our search on more established, in-town, and more highly urbanized neighborhoods, but that wasn’t the environment we wanted for our family.  We’ve made our lives and raised our two daughters here, and for the most part, have been happy with our choice.

Half way through our residential tenure, I strongly supported the efforts to incorporate the City of Johns Creek.  The hope was that we would realize increased local control over the substantial tax dollars collected in unincorporated Fulton County and that decisions affecting our community would be better aligned to our residents’ desires under local leadership. 

As we approach almost eleven years since incorporation as the City of Johns Creek, my sense is that we are seeing the increasing distance between what our residents desire for our community and the vision that our City Council seems intent on driving.  That disconnect can be summarized as a steady march toward increased urbanization and ever higher density, accompanied by the resulting traffic congestion and push to pave our way out of the problems of our own making.

I must ask why our City Council seems so intent on changing the fundamental identity of Johns Creek, an area that has been established as a suburban residential community?  Does anybody benefit by taking the city in a direction that is so drastically different from the character upon which it was based? 

As I consider those questions, I must start at the top of our City Council’s leadership – Mayor Mike Bodker.  Mayor Bodker has been relatively consistently on the side of development, whether that’s championing The District (a widely criticized proposal to create a city center, mostly within privately promoted Technology Park), promoting the benefits of T-SPLOST while assuring residents that any project would be publicly vetted before moving forward, and then insisting that by voting to approve T-SPLOST, that residents had “approved” those same projects, promoting road widening projects over the objections of affected homeowners, or signing an Inter-Governmental Agreement that allows unaccountable officials in Forsyth County to exercise Eminent Domain seizures of private property in Johns Creek.

Another concern was delegating the negotiation of a billboard settlement to Councilwoman Davenport, in spite of a seeming conflict of interest in that Ms. Davenport and one of the billboard principal owners are neighbors and friends.  The outcome of those negotiations may be up for debate, but there is a fair amount of sentiment among some residents that Johns Creek ceded far too much ground without a great deal to show in return. 

Adding further shadows of doubt to the situation, it has been noted and acknowledged that, in his private employment capacity, Mayor Bodker works for a company owned by the Davenports.  While that may be entirely legitimate, the perception that it creates is potentially troublesome.  When a question about this professional relationship was posed at a City Town Hall Meeting, the reaction back to the questioning resident appeared to be out of proportion to a completely legitimate question. Again, in whose interest are our politicians working?

This is a track record that stands in stark contrast to the direction I would like to see Johns Creek pursue.  And so I must question: does Mayor Mike Bodker have the best interests of Johns Creek in mind as he conducts the business of our city?  Are you listening?

Mayor Bodker has stated several times that his elected position as Mayor of Johns Creek is not his primary source of employment or income.  His primary employment is a Partner of nexDimension, a consulting firm that serves the financial, business, and technology industries, and co-founder of the firm’s Government Services practice.  According to nexDimension’s website, some of Mayor Bodker’s accomplishments and qualifications include the founding of the North Fulton Municipal Association, Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Association, and Board Member and Chair of the Revenue & Finance Committee for the Georgia Municipal Association. 

Bodker is cited as a “proven thought leader in topics related to local government and now uses this knowledge to help local governments improve using performance management techniques.”  So again, I have to ask, does Mayor Bodker have the best interests of the residents of Johns Creek at heart, or is his role as Mayor serve as a key qualifying credential to further his personal career, and also provide him the platform from which he can build his private firm’s business?  I would hope for the former, but actions seem to indicate the latter.  Those who recall the last Mayoral election campaign may remember the allegations of bribery and abuse of power that haunted the Mayor through the process.

In addition to the Mayor’s seat, this year’s election will include City Council Posts 1, 3, and 5.  Posts 1 and 5 will see incumbents seeking re-election (Councilman Lenny Zaprowski and Councilwoman Stephanie Endres).

Our charge as residents is to carefully vet our candidates and elect those we feel best prepared to represent us on our City Council.  A review of those residents who have stepped forward to present their case for our votes reveals a very clear, consistent set of messages:
    •    Address traffic congestion
    •    Do not jump to the conclusion that adding pavement will fix our traffic problems
    •    Stop high-density development
    •    Listen to the residents and act in THEIR interests, not YOURS
    •    Be ethical and trustworthy, do NOT allow yourselves to be in compromising situations

The consistency across our candidates means something. Regardless of political party affiliation, they all see the same issues and concerns. Are you listening? 

I know that some of you are listening – I won’t use this letter to make any endorsements, but I do know that we do have some representatives on City Council who are taking their responsibilities seriously, who are listening to the residents, who are putting the interests of Johns Creek residents first and foremost.  I believe that the special election earlier this year was a warning shot across the bow for the others and that our residents are becoming more engaged in the conduct of our city.  While I’m concerned about the direction current leadership seems intent on taking our city, I must also look at the positive outcome that has resulted as residents are first enraged, and then engaged.

This election may be a watershed event for Johns Creek. I wrote this letter because I want to see Johns Creek remain a premier, desirable, suburban residential community. I want our representatives to do what we elected them to do: represent us, and not use a seat on our City Council as a political career launching pad, a personal resume enhancing business development opportunity or a vehicle for personal enrichment. I want our City Council, and our candidates, to be prepared to do the job they are asking us award to them with our votes.

Are you listening? 


Sincerely,
Ed Thompson
Johns Creek, GA