With Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams deciding to end her campaign, two candidates remain in the race for mayor. The Brookhaven Reporter submitted questions to the candidates. Here are their replies:

 

Dale BooneDale Boone
Occupation: Competitive eater
Elective offices held and previous elective or appointive offices held: President, Oakwood Neighborhood Association
Previous community work: Brookhaven Yes, the Brookhaven Police Commission, and East Point Georgia Parks and Recreation Commission.

Why do you want to be mayor?
I am running for mayor to protect our quality of life by working to reduce traffic congestion, lower taxes and protect our community by addressing the crime that is afflicting Brookhaven. As the only candidate who has fought for homeowners, I have attended City Council, zoning, Planning Commission and Development Authority meetings as an advocate for our citizens. I will continue to fight to balance quality development while protecting the qualities that make Brookhaven great.

Why should the voters choose you?
As a trusted voice for homeowners, I earned the support of my neighbors to achieve the position of president of the Oakwood Neighborhood Association, and I previously served as a member of Brookhaven Yes, the Brookhaven Police Commission, and the East Point Georgia Parks and Recreation Commission. I am uniquely qualified to serve as mayor, and will bring my experience serving the people of the city of Brookhaven.

What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address this?
Transportation. I will fight to alleviate traffic congestion by ensuring our development does not outpace infrastructure. Transportation is about more than dollars and cents—it’s about our quality of life. Time spent in gridlock is time away from our families and charitable endeavors. As mayor, I will work with our legislative delegation to secure more funds for local traffic improvements while fighting for smarter development that reflects our current infrastructure and protects our quality of life.

What does “transparency” in Brookhaven’s government mean to you?
Transparency means engaging in an open and honest dialogue with all citizens. Brookhaven is strong because of its citizens. In order to reach our next level of success, we must invite all citizens and taxpayers to the conversation and embrace a shared vision for our future. As mayor, I pledge to be the most accessible and accountable elected official in the city, and conduct city business in the most open and transparent manner possible.

What’s one thing about Brookhaven you think should be changed?
When the city of Brookhaven analyzes the impact of development in major corridors, it should require a greater study of the effects for more than just the immediate surrounding neighborhoods and area. Any development along Peachtree in Brookhaven will have an effect on the majority of the city, not just those neighborhoods directly adjoining a development. We must look at what the greater effect is on congestion and quality of life for all of our citizens.

What is your vision of Brookhaven in 10 years?
Brookhaven is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire because of its citizens. In order to reach our next level of success, we must invite all citizens and taxpayers to the conversation and embrace a shared vision for our future. My vision is a city government that embraces the values of its citizens and encourages their input. Together, we can create a community that prides itself on transparency while promoting the highest quality of life possible.

John Ernst 2John Ernst
Occupation: Attorney
Elective offices held and previous elective or appointive offices held: Chair of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics,
2012-2015.
Previous community work: Executive committee, Atlanta Soccerfest; member of the Knights of Columbus; volunteer for Brookhaven Farmers Market

Why do you want to be mayor?
I grew up in Brookhaven, and I love this city. For the past three years, others have had the opportunity to address the exact same challenges we are still facing today. We must get back to the basics and fulfill the promise of tax relief, better parks, more green space and an open and honest government. I believe that by working together we can deliver the promise of Brookhaven — this is why I am running for mayor.

Why should the voters choose you?
Unfortunately, we’ve all read the bad headlines. Trust has been broken here. Since 2013, our City Council has met secretly over 100 times. Our state’s Attorney General ruled that our city government improperly met behind closed doors. The city admitted to many more violations to the Open Meeting Act and is in the process of releasing more documents. As a former chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics, I understand what it takes to clean up government. Secret meetings, cover-ups of alleged harassment, and sweetheart deals for developers do not create a relationship of trust between residents and our city.

What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address that issue?
There is angst about the future of Brookhaven as higher-density developments encroach on our lives with increased traffic and the potential for overpopulation of our schools.

In many cases, these high-density developments comply with our comprehensive plan, which is a critical factor in zoning decisions. Unchecked, however, Brookhaven could become unlivable in a very short period of time. Therefore, I think the city should:
1. Invoke at least a six-month moratorium on rezoning applications that increase density. There is precedent for this action in Sandy Springs and Atlanta.
2. Create a steering committee of the brightest and most committed citizens for each character area in the comprehensive plan. This steering committee would work with the citizens to create a plan that reflects the direction we want to go in their area.
3. Direct the zoning ordinance recodification committee to reflect the results of the new comprehensive plan into our zoning ordinance.

As mayor, I look forward to bringing the citizens of Brookhaven together to preserve the quality of life we all love here.

What does “transparency” in Brookhaven’s government mean to you?
Transparency means making our city government’s actions known and accessible to its citizens. Our citizens deserve to know what our government is doing and how it’s coming to those decisions.
The reprimand from Georgia’s Attorney General and numerous embarrassing media gaffes demonstrate that Brookhaven does not conduct its business with the highest degree of ethics and transparency. It’s time for Brookhaven to focus on what matters most: effective and efficient delivery of services to residents. We must focus on the core functions of our city, and not spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on litigation against local businesses, such as the Pink Pony. [Mayor Williams] decided to use our tax dollars to go after the Pink Pony as one of her first acts in office.
If elected, I will cut government waste and block unnecessary debt that will cause problems for our city in the future. [Mayor Williams] supported creating more debt for our new city last year with the proposed TAD and cannot be trusted on this issue.
If elected mayor, one of my first acts would be to dramatically curtail meetings not open to the public. I would also create more avenues for citizen input and hold monthly town halls. Only when we fully engage our citizenry will we have a responsive city.
I will also prohibit my campaign consultants and staff members from being considered for city contracts. Furthermore, if elected, I will not use city resources for my re-election campaign.

What’s one thing about Brookhaven you think should be changed?
In addition to restoring citizens’ trust in our municipal government, my other highest priority will be enacting permanent property tax relief for Brookhaven homeowners by increasing the homestead exemption, first for seniors, then for all homeowners.
Currently, the Brookhaven city budget is on pace to more than double in six short years. Elected officials claim to have reduced property taxes while so many homeowners are seeing higher property tax bills. While the City Council has rolled back the millage rate, neither time have they rolled back to the statutory rollback rate, and each time the city has been required to advertise a property tax increase. It’s time to fulfill the promise of property tax relief for homeowners and raise the homestead exemption.

What is your vision of Brookhaven in 10 years?
In 10 years, I envision a Brookhaven that continues to lead the way in the metro Atlanta area when it comes to quality of life. We will continue to be in the best city to live, work and play. To ensure this, we must make sure that our quality of life is not impacted by the many developments that are being planned for our area. Revising our comprehensive plans and recodifying the zoning ordinance is just one step I want to make in that direction.
I also envision the creation of the Brookhaven Beltline that would connect our city with the Atlanta Beltline and permanently create a more walkable, bikeable Brookhaven. Amenities like these will help us continue to be the best city to live, work and play.

1Shares