Character matters

Terry Garlock's picture

Who do you call when life throws you a curve? We are fortunate if we have a couple, maybe a few, people in our life who are so solid we know we could count on them in a crisis or to watch our back. Just a few. Earning that trust takes some time, and it takes a lot of character.

I remember thinking I must be in some Twilight Zone years ago when President Bill Clinton’s escapades of infidelity caused TV pundits to wrinkle their foreheads as they contorted arguments to support him, asking one another in televised programs that pretended to be serious, “Does character really matter in a president?”

Well, as any seventh-grader can tell you, of course character matters, especially in elected officials. Unfortunately, we usually don’t really know the character of those we elect until long after our vote has been cast.

As it turns out, two people on my short list of trust are running for office, which is exactly why I will vote for Beth Pullias for City Council Post 1 and Don Haddix for mayor in the upcoming Peachtree City election.

I hasten to add that I have no idea how Beth and Don will cast their own votes, and you should not read into my comments that Beth supports Don or that Don supports Beth; perhaps they don’t. But I do know something about them vitally important to me, though I could be different than most.

When it comes to elected officials, please spare me the ubiquitous smiles, quick laughs, warm handshakes and backslaps to make every voter feel special.

I don’t give a hoot who stands beside the highway waving at cars at rush hour; well, actually I do care that they think I’m dumb enough to vote for them simply because they made me remember their name.

I do care quite a lot about Peachtree City quality of life values similar to mine, like controlling runaway construction growth when the economy heats up again, working with developers in a pro-business but smart growth fashion.

I like greenbelt a whole lot more than concrete, and that has to be balanced with the private property rights of developers. I’d like to see more focus on that balance, and I’d like to regain the confidence that our elected officials have the strength to stand on principle even when it is lonely, and the good sense to tell me straight-up when we disagree.

It’s called character, which is why Beth and Don will get my vote.

Mostly we rely in elections on publicized candidate comments on hot issues, and we voters do our best to scrutinize what is genuine as each candidate tries to make the best public impression.

Serious voters among us witness debates where the candidates respond to questions and take shots at one another, and the teenager hiding in our brain tends to go along with the “feeling” of which candidate earned the most “attaboys” and who deserved the most “aw-shucks” deductions in an event that scores points on appearances.

But ads and debate performances are a poor substitute for really knowing the qualities of a person. What are they made of, really?

In Beth and Don, I have the luxury of knowing the answer to that question.

For example, when the Peachtree City anti-big box ordinance seemed to be treated as a minor obstacle to defeat by compromise again and again, when the TDK extension threatened the main thoroughfare in our town, when the City Council majority voted repeatedly for what seemed irrational growth in pursuit of fees and tax revenue, while you and I were scratching our head and wondering how the hell the world got turned upside down at City Hall, Beth Pullias was working to get hundreds of her neighbors involved in preserving what makes Peachtree City special.

She attended countless city planning and city council meetings, speaking up frequently and probably irritating every City Council member at some time.

On issues of annexation, density and sweetheart deals with developers, Beth loudly advocated taking the time to think through long-term consequences instead of the rush to push things through by the City Council majority.

I share her view that, even though it is fashionable to bash developers, the city should work closely with them to make sure our growth is “smart” with priority on preserving greenbelt and enforcing the city’s land use plan and big box ordinances.

The selfless actions Beth has taken are not surprising when you know the old-fashioned values she and her husband, Mike, are teaching their kids, like hard work, responsibility and doing the right thing even when it is very hard.

For several years Don Haddix has found himself in the role of contrarian on the City Council, voting “No” repeatedly on matters like the land abandonment and big-box ordinance waiver — called a “special use permit” but I prefer plain English — for the Ga. Highway 54 West development, not to speak of the traffic light issue still in process.

In a minority position on City Council, Don has relentlessly and vocally supported a more sensible “smart growth” policy with his voice and his vote even in the face of certain defeat, standing on principle.

During this election season, it seems all candidates are suddenly opposed to sprawl and big box developments, even those who voted for them in the past, while all along Don was a minority voice saying “No.”

His vote was overcome by the majority time and again, but he stuck with what he believed is right, and I’m glad he did because he was speaking for me and a whole bunch of other citizens who wondered why City Hall seemed to be selling out to short-sighted revenue growth. Now it’s time that Don’s voice of reason is amplified.

I don’t know whether Don Haddix and Beth Pullias ever worked on anything together. Shoot, I don’t even know if they like one another. But that doesn’t matter.

I do know each of them well enough to know their smart growth values are similar to mine, and I know whether we agree on all issues or not, their strength and integrity make them the kind of people I want to represent me when the going gets tough.

You don’t often get to combine personal trust with your vote; this time I do.

For the other City Council slots, I’ll have to make a decision the usual way, trying to figure out where each candidate stands and whether I am seeing the real man or woman.

But voting for Beth Pullias and Don Haddix is a slam-dunk for me because I know what they are made of and character matters. It has always mattered quite a lot.

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City. His email is]

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Submitted by ptcmom678 on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 5:44pm.

Can ya tell me why in the world I should vote for someone who 1) seems to have nothing to do with his time but constantly camp out on The Citizen website, and 2) actually feels compelled to answer each and every blogger...repeatedly??

Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:07am.

So bloggers ptcmom678 and mudcat are complaining about Don Haddix being attentive and responding to the citizens?

Surely, a responsive politician in today's world is a bit of an anomaly, and ptcmom678 and mudcat might prefer the stability of the old tried and true back-door, good old boys style of government.

And poor old mudcat after all these years is still coming up with Steve Brown blogging conspiracy theories ... if facts are against you, start slinging that mud. I would dare say that anyone who knows me or who has read this newspaper knows I am not afraid to speak my mind and sign my name to it.

I remember when mudcat kept accusing me of being blogger Gitreal. I just found out who Gitreal is a month ago, he introduced himself. And Spear Road Guy supported Logsdon for crying out loud.

I can easily see how ptcmom678 and mudcat would favor the Plunkett campaign (four-years in office and she gives no specifics on the big issues), just hope the rest of the voters are not drinking the same poisonous Kool Aid.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:07pm.

Haddix is a wrong vote. He will wear us out with blogs - kinda like Steve Brown and Silence Dogwood, Spear Road Guy, Prince and all his other identities do.

Haddix wants it too much, he thinks it is a full-time job and he whines constantly about 3-2 votes. If he were actually an effective leader he would have pulled Plunkett or Boone into his camp. Didn't do it; Didn't try.

Vote Rowland or Plunkett.

Submitted by imagine that on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:00pm.

Perhaps, Mr. Haddix is doing what I often do...multi-task through different websites keeping abreast of the news and what is going on around me. I want to know what's happening around me.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:21pm.

My old company business office was at home because of the nature of the work my business did. Didn't play well with computers.

When I got on Council I switched it to combined Council and home office. Computer, work tables, all-in-one scanner printer, fax, laptop, file cabinets and all the rest all around me. Just swing my chair at need.

Nothing unusual for me to have home and city emails, Citizen and other windows open while reading Council packets, doing research for proposed ordinance and other city work.

Been multi tasking for years.

Oh, yea almost forgot. TV as well. Type fast too.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by PTC Observer on Wed, 10/21/2009 - 7:34am.

I guess that's a no comment?

Submitted by PTC Observer on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 1:01am.

Could you once again give us your spending priorities?

How would you propose to reduce spending?

Explain again why you are for the continuation of the SPLOST and why you think this serves the best interests of PTC citizens?

What would your first 100 days look like?



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