Dunwoody voters head to the polls Nov. 3 to choose a mayor and a city council member. Mayor Mike Davis faces three challengers in his bid to win re-election. One is former City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Denis Shortal, who resigned his seat on council to run for the mayor’s post. The others are commercial lender Chris Grivakis and retired BellSouth employee and actor Steve Chipka.

The Dunwoody Reporter asked each of the candidates a series of questions about their qualifications for the job and plans for the city. Here are their answers in alphabetical order:

Steve Chipka

Steve Chipka

Steve Chipka
Retired BellSouth employee

Why do you want to be mayor?
I am fed up with the current group of City Council members and their lack of transparency to the citizens of the city of Dunwoody.

Why should the voters choose you?
Voters should choose me because they are fed up with the current regime that does not listen to constituents.

What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address that issue?
The most significant issue facing the citizens of the city of Dunwoody is a City Council oblivious to their input. I will address that issue with public forums in various parts of the city at times convenient for residents of the city.

What’s one thing about Dunwoody you think should change?
One thing that needs to change about Dunwoody is the involvement of the taxpaying residents in city decisions.

How do you see Dunwoody in 10 years?
Dunwoody in 10 years will not be significantly different without a major change in leadership.
The current approach of planning from the hip will continue to drain city of Dunwoody resources until the city is caused to eliminate debt to achieve any public projects. The city has already mired itself in debt with the “PVC Farm” project which funds a private construction company with taxpayer funds. In the future, the city of Dunwoody should be free of debt and striving to achieve a “green” status for all new development.

 

Mike Davis

Mike Davis

Mike Davis
Mayor of Dunwoody since January 2012

Why do you want to be mayor?
I love Dunwoody!  I’ve raised my family here and been involved in countless civic organizations, primarily in leadership roles.  I’ve had the opportunity to serve as the Mayor of Dunwoody for the past four years and I would love to continue to serve for the next four years.  Dunwoody has a two term limit for the office of mayor, and I would like to continue to work to see Dunwoody be the best city it can be! I feel like I’m only half done with my job.

Why should the voters choose you?
My leadership style is one based on coalition building to accomplish our goals. I am committed to ensuring that all our council members are heard so we can come up with the best solutions. I have a track record of honest and transparent government.
I am fiscally conservative and work on a “needs” vs. “wants” basis when evaluating major city expenditures. We have previously established priorities (based upon plans with citizen input) such as paving and intersection fixes that should take precedence over costly and shortsighted special interests.
I am best equipped to continue representing Dunwoody’s interest to DeKalb County, the state of Georgia and the surrounding areas. I have spent the past four years building relationships that have enabled Dunwoody to work well with other cities, the county and the state.

What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address that issue?
We have two pressing issues, traffic and schools. On the traffic front I was one of the primary spokesmen representing Dunwoody’s charge to get the DOT and the governor to approve spending $1 billion on the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange. Most of the traffic in Dunwoody is due to commuters looking for a better route when our highways are at a standstill.  One thing we can address at the local level is our intersections.  We have 13 intersections in the city that need fixing. We are finally getting started at Peeler/No. Peachtree/Tilly Mill. This will be a huge improvement.

What’s one thing about Dunwoody you think should change?
The county control of our schools has to change. I feel that local control is the answer… we must create our own Dunwoody school system.  DeKalb County has the highest school tax rate in the state and yet has a 60 percent graduation rate. That’s failing on any scale. We’ve proven we can run a city, we know we can run a school system as well. I have been the city’s representative for this project speaking to elected representatives from other mayors to state representatives and senators.

How do you see Dunwoody in 10 years?
I see a safe city that is connected to a network of trails that will allow our citizens to bike or walk from one end to the other.   I see a community of families, groups and individuals who are proud of our city and its network of parks and many recreational opportunities.  I see a city with its own thriving school system with greatly improved graduation rates.  I see a city that continues to be a chosen destination…for us as we age and for our children who will want to raise their children in Dunwoody!

 

Chris Grivakis Chris Grivakis
Commercial Lender

Why do you want to be mayor?
Focus on why we became a city. Re-pave more roads yearly to finish prior to slow schedule we are on.  Increase officers to patrol the streets keeping citizens safe (person-to-person crime increased 19 percent last year and 80 precent this year). Protect our students from over-crowding through zoning to stop high-density housing around Perimeter. Support school systems through IGA’s. Stop spending on city hall, gateways, and incentive money like $8.4 million used to attract State Farm.

Why should the voters choose you?
Strong advocate to keep Dunwoody suburban, prioritize spending on needed projects over interesting projects, and defer spending on City Hall/Gateway projects.  I have a financial/analytical background and will use this to determine the pros and cons of each project.  For police: increase rent stipend to live in apartments to deter crime, require working managers, clear intersections. Support changing charter to require city (not council) vote to take over county services in future.

What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address that issue?
Over-urbanization (density/height) of Perimeter area based on false assumption that we need taxes from such projects.  I would vote against increasing height limits in current re-zoning.  Additional children in schools and potential increased fire taxes would be detrimental.   Large projects could still be reviewed but with City Council oversight, a safety mechanism that diminishes should height limits increase to 30 stories as proposed in the initial re-zone proposal presented at recent DHA meeting.

What’s one thing about Dunwoody you think should change?
Stop the notion that we have to build what is in the Master Plan and stop berating anyone who is against something in the Master Plan.  The Master Plan is just a guide put together by those who had time to attend these meetings.  True vetting occurs when a project is rolled out.  Please don’t insult those who dissent by telling them that have no voice since they didn’t attend Master Plan meetings.

How do you see Dunwoody in 10 years?
With my input: suburban feel, paved streets, police visibility, sidewalks completed, no circle at Vermack/Womack (or anywhere), height limits on buildings, charter requiring city vote on taking over county services, turf field at Dunwoody High School and Peachtree Charter Middle School with programs offered by city, and school master plan to present to county and school representatives to help us secure needed funds now and provide input on how we want future SPLOST funds to be used in our schools.

Denis Shortal

Denis Shortal

Denis Shortal
City Council member from 2008-2015; retired U.S. Marine Brigadier General

Why do you want to be mayor? Why should the voters choose you?
To provide open and positive leadership for the City Council and all the citizens of Dunwoody.  This includes returning an attitude of mutual respect to the office of mayor which was a foundation of our becoming a city.  The use of basic common sense has been key to Dunwoody’s success so far, and should continue to be a focus of our efforts going forward.  The key to being a public servant is doing what you told citizens you would do before you were elected … I have a seven-year record of doing exactly that.
What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address that issue?
There is more than one significant issue:
– Take control of our public schools.  Quality education for our children is not only our goal, but our responsibility.  I will personally work with local and state legislators for local control of our schools.
– Expedite paving of our streets using surplus funds and reallocation of funds.  This will include fixing the “worst first”.  Design the scope of our infrastructure projects to produce desired results at a reasonable cost.
– Improve our existing parks and recreation assets for use by all citizens across the entire age spectrum.  Do this by developing a 10-year Park Improvement Plan created by a citizens’ committee with outside assistance if needed.
– Continue to be fiscally prudent with the citizens’ tax dollars to preserve Dunwoody’s long term financial security.

What’s one thing about Dunwoody you think should change?
A more open and positive mayoral leadership and attitude in dealing with City Council and all citizens.

How do you see Dunwoody in 10 years?
A city of approximately 50,000 citizens working together to enhance the quality of life for everyone, so Dunwoody can remain a very desirable residential community that is business friendly.

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