Johns Creek City Council Candidates Questionnaires #2: What will you do to improve the transparency of decisions made by this City Council?
Encourage more collaboration and teamwork within City Council and staff. Also encourage citizen participation to vote, engage and learn about the process of Johns Creek City Council.
Some of the residents coming to the city hall meetings will know about the decisions made, but for all the other residents we have to reach out and provide information.
I will go to the residents of the eight areas, will make myself available every Thursday 6 pm to 7 pm at a central location representing that area. There, I will share the information from the city council meetings, decisions made and work in progress. Similarly, I would like to hear from the residents on their views, concerns, and priorities. Information and feedback received from residents will be considered for all the decisions made by the city council. This will provide two-way communication and transparency on the decisions made and it also represents the opinion of the entire community.
Here is the tentative schedule for 2020 for weekly meeting 6 pm to 7 pm, January 9 - City Hall, representing Medlock Area, January 16 - Shakerag Park, representing Shakerag and Tech Park area, January 23 - Ocee Library (TBD), representing Johns Creek North area, January 30 - Ocee Park, representing Ocee area, February 6 - Newtown Park, representing Newtown area, February 13 - TBD, representing Autrey Mill and River Estates area. This cycle will continue for the rest of the year. I will ensure transparency and full visibility on all the critical issues and deliverables by utilizing the power of technology.
Community engagement is a fundamental component of effective government. I will advocate that every phase of every major project include a community engagement plan to ensure that the community is fully aware of and understands the what and why of city activities.
It is very important that all members of Council speak to explain their positions and allow the public to understand the basis for their votes.
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*Although Adam Thomas did not respond to the questionnaire, we included his name and photo to show he is on the ballot and was not omitted on our part.*
I always ask citizens to contact me via email or text/call me to hear any further rationale/discussion I have on a past, present, or future topic (or so they can just voice their questions or issues). I can also meet for coffee to hear a resident’s concerns further if it will take a longer conversation. I’d also encourage citizens to follow my Facebook page for additional detail where I generally advertise our town halls or events so residents know how and where to ask us any questions in which they want to hear from Council. I provide updates and information regarding important city policies or initiatives on that page as well. Residents could also attend any of our quarterly town halls with the Mayor and Council to ask us our beliefs or thoughts on any topic. And, if our neighbors don’t want to interact with Council directly, I’d encourage them to take advantage of the city following the Open Records requirements and request City Council emails, calendars, etc. if you want transparency but don’t want to deal with politicians. For further transparency, I encourage inquisitive residents, the press, and community groups to cover and report on any of our meetings and decision making to always ensure accountability of the Council.
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* Although Kent Altom did not respond to the questionnaire, we included his name and photo to show he is on the ballot and was not omitted on our part.*
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*Although Marybeth Cooper did not respond to the questionnaire, we included her name and photo to show she is on the ballot and was not omitted on our part.*
I worked as an attorney in an employment litigation firm, where I specialized in representing government employees who witnessed fraud, waste, or abuse in government and were fired for speaking out. Government transparency is extremely important to me and I will ensure the Council adheres with the Open Records Act and Open Meetings Act. I will clearly express my thought process in making decisions. I will request that the City Council members be similarly forthright and explain their reasoning for supporting a particular action. I can also state that I do not have any business dealings or organizational conflicts of interest with any entities operating in Johns Creek, so my decisions will be made based on the best interests of the City and the feedback of the residents.
I believe that government should be completely transparent and will do everything I can to make sure that Johns Creek City government is as transparent as possible. The Council works for the residents and should have nothing to hide from the residents. I hope to encourage more resident participation with small meetings in social settings and open forums. Open and honest communication is vital to the success of our community. I pledge to be accessible to all residents of Johns Creek and to address their concerns and answer their questions to the best of my ability.
Transparency comes through communication. The level of transparency on any issue at the city level greatly depends on what sort of decision Council has made; clearly there are decisions made in Executive Session that are not meant to be open to the general public as a process of Executive decisions. Council members can certainly share their opinions during the decision-making process, and if appropriate, should do so. Over the past five years, I have seen the City make great strides in effectively communicating with the residents, using platforms such as Nextdoor, Facebook and regular email updates, not to mention regular website updates. I would continue to encourage residents to become active participants in whatever issue(s) interest them the most. It is also imperative for the residents to be included and considered, so more of those concerned will need to show up and make public comment. Decidedly, effective communication is a two-way street.
Image Sources: Linkedin, State Rep. Beth Moore & from the City Council Candidates.
Finally, have you read Ask the Candidates Questionnaire #1?
What do you all think of the Johns Creek City Council Candidates so far?
The question was “What will you do to improve the transparency of decisions made by city council?” The 7 candidates who responded spoke to the issue of community engagement, but only some addressed the issue of transparency.
Mr. Reinecke stresses that all members of city council speak to explain their positions to allow the public to understand the basis of their votes. We have a history in Johns Creek of council members such as Mr. Lin and Mrs. Davenport not speaking to explain their votes. That leaves the impression that they’re voting at the direction of others. Mrs. Elwood, like Mr. Reinecke, says she will clearly express her thought process in making decisions. Mrs. LeFave says that council members can, but not necessarily should, share their opinions during the decision-making process. Mrs. Yang promises to be open and honest. Mr. Coughlin, as a member of council, is learning the importance of explaining his votes, but is not one of the more vocal members of council.
Mr. Weaver and Mr. Tunki do not appear to understand what is meant by transparency and have focused solely on community engagement. Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Altom, and Mr. Thomas declined to answer the question so we have no idea where they stand on this important issue.
I agree with much of the previous comment. Better communication is greatly needed, but this is really about transparency in government. The recent history of the council is very poor when it comes to communication. Getting to the bottom of what is going on has been a struggle for residents. We have had enough of secrets and surprises. Look no further than T-SPLOST or Parks Bond. And more recently, we find out that the seemingly innocuous 141/Medlock Bridge repaving was really a push to reduce lane width and then it was sold to us as “traffic calming” purposes BUT it was really about forcing three lanes on residents.
We need transparency to ensure that the people of Johns Creek are represented rather than an outside organization, vendor or hidden third party.
Mr. Reinecke's suggestion about a community engagement plan for every major project would be a great start. This would certainly be an improvement over what we have now. Mr. Coughlin's willingness to meet with residents is something that all candidates should be willing to do. Ms. Yang also pledges to be available to the residents and mentions open forums in which residents can engage with council members. Ms. Yang also says she is dedicated to transparency. Reinecke, Coughlin and Yang seem to understand that the government works for the people and not the other way around. Ms. Elwood says similar regarding transparency and openness. Mr. Tunki also talks about increased communication as a means for encouraging transparency. This is not a bad idea, but we need all future council members to commit to full openness and transparency.
Johns Creek deserves open, honest government. Those whose seats are not expiring this year should be held to the same level of scrutiny on this. If they are not able to make that commitment and if we do not see change on the council, we should throw them out at the earliest opportunity.
Ms. LeFave's comments are a little concerning because she seems to be laying poor communication and lack of openness at the feet of the constituents. She does not seem to think that sharing information is the responsibility of the council first.
Mr. Weaver's answer sounds like he didn't understand the point of the question.
As for the others, Ms. Cooper, Mr. Altom and Mr. Thomas -- why would you run but choose not to answer these simple questions?