Candidates for Dunwoody City Council first discussed allegations of corruption during a forum held Oct. 11 at Dunwoody High School.
District 1 candidate Becky Springer said in a voter’s guide statement published by the League of Women Voters of Georgia and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the current City Council accepts kickbacks from builders and developers.
Before the forum, Springer said she believes, “something’s going on behind the scenes,” but she said she didn’t know for certain that anyone did anything illegal.
Specifically, Springer said she’s concerned about the John Wieland “PVC Farm” project, also known as Project Renaissance, and the State Farm project.
Both candidates responded to a question asking Springer to clarify her accusation of council members accepting “kickbacks.” Springer did not provide evidence of wrongdoing, but qualified her statement as a reaction to development deals.
“That is me looking at several deals the city’s made,” Springer said. She referenced the deal with Wieland publicly. “We basically take all the risk,” she said.
Nall responded by saying Springer’s allegations of criminal activity are a “shame” and go beyond “political trash talking.” He said anyone with evidence of wrongdoing should come forward.
During her opening statement, Springer said she voted for Councilman Terry Nall four years ago in part because he promised a “balance of growth and development” and an “appropriate level of police protection.” She said the State Farm project and “rampant crime” show Nall has broken his promises to the city.
Nall, who gave his opening statement first, talked about the “promises made and promises kept” during his term and highlighted his accomplishments, such as dual accreditation for all DeKalb County high schools and an initiative for more rigorous building code requirement of concrete and steel for buildings over three stories.
He said Springer’s campaign included two “patently false” allegations beyond her accusation of council members receiving kickbacks: that crime is up 85 percent over last year and that City Council zoned a 16-story apartment building off Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Nall said no new apartments have been approved in the last four years and the City Council removed around 1,700 planned apartments that were previously entitled by DeKalb.
Springer brought up the planned move of Austin Elementary and asked why the City Council “failed to allow for a land swap with the Dunwoody baseball fields,” which she said would have prevented rezoning the school. Nall used some of his time to respond to a different question to say Springer’s statement was false because Council didn’t reject a land swap deal.
“In fact, a land swap opportunity was never presented to the city,” Nall said. “That’s now a fourth incorrect statement.”
Springer responded to Nall’s statements in her closing thoughts.
“I really appreciate the condescension and insinuating that I am a liar, thanks so much Terry,” Springer said.
Both candidates said they would renew the contract with the 911 service provider Chattahoochee River 911 Authority. Nall and Springer also agreed to continue public-private partnerships, moving department heads, who could have conflicts of interest as contractors, to city staff positions. Nall used Public Works Director Michael Smith as an example of someone who moved to a city staff position to avoid any potential problem.