City Council members Terry Nall and Lynn Deutsch, who are running to be Dunwoody’s next mayor, touted their experience on such issues as school overcrowding during brief stump speeches at a recent Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting.
City Council candidate Joe Seconder, who is running for District 2 At Large seat currently held by Deutsch, gave some of his background, including serving in the military, as part of his bid to prospective voters.
About 10 people attended the Aug. 4 DHA meeting held in a classroom at the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center. The DHA invites candidates of any DeKalb County race to speak at the start of meetings. DHA President Adrienne Duncan said two other City Council candidates, Stacey Harris and Robert Miller, were out of town. Both are running for the District 1 At Large seat currently held by Nall.
Councilmember John Heneghan has announced he is running for reelection for the District 3 At Large seat; no challenger has emerged.
The DHA is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that represents approximately 1,000 homeowners in the city.
Speaking in the order they arrived at the meeting, Nall went first and recalled how he stood before the DHA eight years ago in the same room to announce his run for City Council.
“My key principle then and for the eight years since then was to support a small, efficient, disciplined government with accountability,” he said.
“Everything that I do is about building a better Dunwoody,” he said. “We do it working collaboratively with council members. No one person on the council, including the mayor, can take an initiative and run with it. You have to work with other people.”
Nall addressed the recent community backlash against the DeKalb County School District for adding more trailers to Dunwoody High School and other city schools to deal with overcrowding. The city issued a stop work order in July on the construction of portable quad classrooms at DHS because DCSD did not have the proper permits, but work began a day later after permitting was obtained.
Nall said the incident and the recent presentation by school administrators to address the adding of trailers to schools led him to come up with a five-point plan. He said he plans to propose the City Council approve the plan at the Aug. 12 meeting.
“The question is, how do we hold them accountable?” Nall said of DeKalb Schools.
The plan includes strengthening the permitting and inspections process; strengthening the recourse the city can take against the school district for failing to act on the city’s regulations; paying for a second opinion on what the city can legally do to the school district when it comes to enforcing city regulations; establishing a policy of pursuing code enforcement to the fullest extent; and setting a legislative policy for the state legislature to clarify what powers cities have over a school district.
“What’s really causing this is an absence of state statutes on permitting,” he said. “Nothing in state law says a city can go after a school district.”
Deutsch followed Nall and also addressed the controversy surrounding overcrowding and trailers at local schools. She said she has more than 20 years of experience working within the school system.
“I speak their language, understand their challenges and am well positioned to help our parents and community members advocate for our community schools and to help design a path for the city to have a stronger role when it comes to education in our community,” she said.
Deutsch recounted that she served on the city’s first Planning Commission after incorporation before being elected to the City Council eight years ago. She said she had not considered running for mayor just six months ago.
But she said as she saw redevelopment taking place in Chamblee, the transformation of downtown Alpharetta and after attending a placemaking workshop at the Georgia Municipal Association’s convention in June, she was inspired to run.
“I want Dunwoody to be a stronger place, to remain a place where we have the best neighborhoods around, but a place where the opportunities to interact with our neighbors increase, that we become a more vibrant, energetic a place that has an identity outside of location and schools,” she said.
Deutsch also addressed the planned construction of toll lanes along I-285 and joked that she has said she would lay down in front of the bulldozers. That plan won’t likely work, she said, but she said she has been working with officials to mitigate the impacts, including city staff, state Sen. Sally Harrell and state Rep. Mike Wilensky, neighboring elected officials, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
City Council race
Seconder, a community activist who is running for the council seat being left open by Deutsch, was the final speaker and gave some background about his life. He said he grew up poor and was raised by a single mother, worked in high school to save enough money to buy a car, and joined the Army where he went from serving as a private in the military police to earning the rank of major in the infantry.
He said he is “constantly learning and growing” and is known for asking for 100% of something but working to achieve at least 10%.
“I’m an open book. What you see is what you get,” he said and invited people to “Google” him.
Seconder also said he is nonpartisan and bipartisan at the local level of government and has been building coalitions in the city and is asking voters to join him in taking “Dunwoody from good to great.”
Qualifying for the city elections is Aug. 19-21. The election is Nov. 5.