Joe Hirsch

dunwoodyjoe.com

Occupation: Journalist

Joe Hirsch.

Previous experience holding elected offices: None.

Other community service experience: Current Board Member of VOX Teen Communications, which provides an uncensored place for teens to develop leadership, with a focus on writing and journalism; former advisory board member for suicide prevention organization; editor of alumna newsletter for a New York orphanage; providing occasional help at Dunwoody schools and Youth Radio.

What is motivating you to run for City Council?

I truly want Dunwoody to be better. After creating our own city, the promise of enhanced services for less tax money has not been perfected. The city is in need of fresh ideas from someone who has an open mind. I am a big stakeholder for our success, having teenaged school children and two elderly parents who live in Dunwoody. We need more honesty, transparency and better constituent services. Our city is in need of someone to shake up the establishment. I am confident that I will hold people accountable for their mistakes, while also providing a voice to everyone.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

We don’t want to become the victims of our own success. Traffic causes loss of productivity, harms our health and quality of life, damages the environment and even inhibits our emergency response times. District 1 has one of the strongest economic engines around, yet has projected further increases in traffic that can send us backwards. While many roadway projects, bike-sharing, carpools, buses and MARTA plans are being developed, we need to make sure it is done collaboratively so they can all be used congruently. State Farm constructing a direct platform to MARTA from their new office is a great example.

Do you support creating more bicycle paths or multi-use trails in the city? What parts of the city should they cover?

Trails obviously need to go where people go. We don’t want to isolate pedestrians and bikers to just our parks. While trails are great for health, recreation and commuting, they also build a sense of community. However, individual homeowners’ properties need to be respected while considering the paths’ locations. Additionally, some of our major roadways may never be suitable for all skill levels of bikers. We unfortunately can’t retrofit every road in the city to accommodate or placate everyone.

What type of development would you support in the Perimeter Center area?

While we usually legally can’t prohibit a type of development, such as banks, the city can assert leverage when it comes to concessions we grant a developer. This has been the de facto method to bargain with builders in such things as the types of building materials, parking spaces or green space. What I have heard from many is that the city is lacking in “fun” businesses or unique restaurants. Younger residents say they leave the city for entertainment, suggesting a comedy club, a roller rink or even a similar district that was created around the new SunTrust Park.

What policy or program would you support to preserve trees as redevelopment happens?

Certainly everyone is in favor of trees. The city just made revisions to its tree ordinance that will assist us. However, there often seems to be loopholes that enable developers to clear a field of old trees, perhaps by simply paying a fee into the city’s tree fund. Or when replanting is required, when trees from a certain area are removed — from Perimeter Mall as an example– it does little benefit to that area to have new trees planted at Brook Run Park. The benefits of a tree canopy in reducing the urban heat island effect are lost.

What city service or program needs improvement? How would you improve it?

Code enforcement. In actuality, it doesn’t exist. Our city’s publicly stated policy is that our code enforcement division does not proactively patrol, but they rely on citizens to report infractions. We pay handsomely for experts (with an outside firm that has no real ties to the city), while the community is being told to snitch on our neighbors and businesses. Currently, we legislatively create new codes that the residents must familiarize themselves with. This is asinine. Have the contractors do their jobs better and give the See-Click-Fix program the ability for reporting of code issues.

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