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OPINION — PTC candidates: Look at their records
I eyeballed the whole slate of Peachtree City Council candidates at the recent forum at McIntosh High School and came away impressed with the strength and substance of the field.
Without irony, I believe all 12 truly care about their city and what happens to it. Can we all agree that thanks are owed to anyone willing to govern this city even in these very tough times?
But we voters are faced with deciding some of the races based strictly on the candidates’ words and their life experiences so far as they have divulged them.
Only three of the 12 have actual, verifiable voting records in public office with which we may judge their words against their actions.
Those three with a voting record are Steve Boone (four years as the Post 3 incumbent), mayoral candidate Cyndi Plunkett (four years in the seat she declined to seek again, Post 4), and mayoral candidate Don Haddix (who resigned after two years in Post 1 to run for mayor).
Four years ago, I wrote this about Boone: “Boone supports, apparently without reservation, the West Village annexation, a recipe of horror for most current PTC residents.”
Of Plunkett, I wrote: “I worry that she is lopsided for all things recreation without balancing concerns for public safety and how much city services cost.”
Just for the record, in that 2005 column I warned about then-mayoral candidate Harold Logsdon: “... My great fear is that you will getting an affable, friendly guy who will favor higher density, more commercial and apartment development and increased traffic every time it comes to a vote. The homeowners of Peachtree City will get a get-along-go-along kind of guy who will vote against their interests just about every time. But, hey, he’ll be nice about it. And he won’t write letters to the editor. In fact, you’ll hardly ever see him, except when he smiles and sticks it to you on behalf of his developer friends. Don’t say somebody didn’t warn you.” Judge for yourselves whether that warning was valid.
Let’s review some subsequent actions.
About the West Village annexation in a May 8, 2007 column: “Let’s hope PTC voters will remember who voted for the most growth as well as the densest growth within PTC in the past 15 years: Mayor Harold Logsdon, council members Stephen Boone, Cyndi Plunkett and Stuart Kourajian. Will these four — Logsdon, Boone, Plunkett and Kourajian — be known in coming decades as the ones who lost Peachtree City?”
From Nov. 27, 2007: “Current council members Logsdon and Boone have damaged Peachtree City with their cavalier attitude toward the majority of residents. Boone seems to have no discernible voting philosophy except to go along with developers. ... [T]he two of them — Logsdon and Boone — should be made the new minority and a new homeowner-centric majority should take control of the PTC Council to restore some humility and public attentiveness to the local governing process.”
From Nov. 4, 2008: “Oh, and just as an aside, the City Council — abetted by its clueless Planning Commission and city staff — is about to vote to annex land for which there exists no development plan. Now, that’s a modern first for even the declining quality of leadership that we Peachtree Citizens are stuck with. ... Mr. or Ms. council person, vote YES for an unplanned, unnecessary annexation, and get voted out next time you appear on the ballot as having demonstrated terminal unfitness for leadership in a supposedly planned city.”
About the Ga. Highway 54 West debacle in columns beginning in the fall of 2007: “Why should the wise heads on the Peachtree City Council feel any obligation to sell city-owned streets and rights of way to a big box developer? The developer — regardless of his zoning rights on the commercial property — has no legal claim to land the city has owned for many decades. Will the council become the developer’s de facto partner in a project that could not otherwise happen without the collusion of the council members? What kind of people have we elected who would do such deliberate damage to Peachtree City?
“The council in effect would become an enabling partner in the construction of a big box development that could not otherwise be built without the city’s explicit facilitation. In view of the public’s overwhelming aversion to another such development on Hwy. 54 West, the council’s approval would amount to a a complete and total sell-out to the developer who is most responsible for the wretched look and mounting problems of the city’s west side. Whoever votes for this perverted city-developer partnership will become a synonym for the sell-out of the Peachtree City vision.”
From Feb. 10, 2009: “The sell-out trio wins again; we lose. The Peachtree City Council voted its customary split last Thursday in favor of further destroying the declining peace and tranquility of our ‘planned’ community. More traffic, more traffic lights, more flailing about for ever more specious rationales for decisions that a majority of city residents would unhesitatingly vote down if given the chance. But who cares about the majority of citizens? As the mayor once remarked to me, ‘After all, the crowd wanted Barabbas.’ So, following their tortured logic, the block of three [Plunkett, Boone and Logsdon] voted to affirmatively enable the very thing they have been saying they did not want: a dense, big-box center right across from Walmart/Home Depot.
“It was almost exactly one year ago this week that Mayor Harold Logsdon and council members Steve Boone and Cyndi Plunkett voted to sell out the Peachtree City vision. Newly installed council members Don Haddix and Doug Sturbaum voted against it. Plunkett swung first against it in 2007, then swung in favor of the bigger development in 2008. Why? I don’t know. After all, what has land use planning and long existing zoning got to do with anything? That’s been the pattern ever since: 3-to-2 to sell out Peachtree City.”
Back to the present — whatever incumbents Boone and Plunkett say, what they have done gives lie to their words.
Folks, most of us Peachtree City residents were betrayed by many of Boone’s and Plunkett’s past votes. Should we give them another four years to unplan our city, block by block, village by village?
Okay, let’s take it by post:
For mayor, Haddix has the demonstrable two-year record of voting against the giveaways and developer accommodations. He is an adult, unafraid to say no. He gave up two years on his safe term (a requirement of state law) in order to run for mayor. Haddix has earned our trust. He should be mayor.
Scott Rowland is a good second choice. This young, unmarried businessman has a record of selfless service as an Eagle Scout and a Peace Corps member. But as a political novice and first-time office seeker, he is going for the home run in his first time at bat. Best that he should try a sacrifice bunt or a single first before swinging for the bleachers. But I hope he tries again.
Post 1 (a two-year term for Haddix’s vacant seat): I like all these candidates. The city will likely be well-served by any of them, but especially by Imker, Craig and Pullias. Here are my biases regarding this strong group.
Shelby Barker says all the good, Republican things, but he has youth and inexperience going against him. It’s all words at this point.
Beth Pullias is a civic trooper, faithfully participating in the myriad meetings of Planning Commission, City Council and other local organizations. My two concerns about Pullias: She brandishes the tax increase approach too easily for my taste, and she seems to seek a consensus position even on very bad ideas (the 54 West plan as an example) instead of just saying no.
I have a lot of empathy for David Craig, the Delta guy who seems to come from the school of “the last thing I want to do is run for office, but somebody has got to stop this stuff.” He definitely is no politician, which is a great thing, in my view.
For me it’s between Craig and Eric Imker, whose plain-talking, no-nonsense approach I admire. He didn’t just come out of the woodwork, having announced many months ago in letters to this paper his intention to run for council and his detailed views on what had to change and what he wanted to conserve.
Slight nod to Imker.
Post 3 (four-year term in the slot now held by Steve Boone): Like Pullias, Kim Learnard has not been shy about telling the world what she thinks about a number of things, a trait I admire in a public official. I probably disagree with her on many issues involving state and national politics (she wrote a column for this paper in favor of a federalized public option in healthcare), but she cares for her city and would be a deliberate voice for average folks in PTC. Still, she has explicitly stated that increased property taxes would be a weapon of choice to deal with city budget issues. That I don’t like.
I’m very impressed with business executive Bob Walsh, and likely will vote for him. He has hands-on experience with finding new sites for multinational corporations and has focused on the opportunities of filling in our industrial park, a skill-set we desperately need in an elected official.
Post 4 (four-year term in the seat being vacated by Cyndi Plunkett): I have the most questions about this race but lean toward Vanessa Fleisch over Les Dyer. That being said, Dyer is an impressive candidate: president of the local volunteer firefighters association, retired military (he flew the SR-71 Blackbird, for pete’s sakes!), straight-forward guy who seems not to suffer fools gladly.
But I have a nagging suspicion that he might be a little too accommodating of annexations, developers’ attempts to deviate from the land use plan and the great, sucking demands of the city’s bureaucracy.
Fleisch will be less inclined to go along with those special interests.
My voting list: No to SPLOST, Haddix for mayor, Imker for Post 1, Walsh for Post 3 and Fleisch for Post 4.
Peachtree City homeowners, let’s vote in at least a 3-to-2 majority in favor of our long-suffering interests this time. Let’s don’t make the same mistakes the majority made four years ago.login to post comments | Cal Beverly's blog