Friday, October 29, 1999
A civil engineer who works around the state, including some projects for Peachtree City, Ewing stresses his views on public service by saying that if elected, I will suddenly have 32,000 bosses.
I don't recall any other candidate saying that he or she is totally willing to vote according to the citizens' desires, he added.
Although this is considered by some an off-year election, Ewing believes that there are a number of critical issues to be faced right now, such as fiscal responsibility.
The citizens don't want any more taxes, he said, citing the recent council decision to form the land acquisition fund with surplus budget money as a squandered opportunity to give some back to the taxpayers.
The city had an opportunity to reduce taxes and failed to do so because they came up with another special project, said Ewing. They had a $161,000 surplus that they could have given back to the property owners.
He also pointed out that Annie McMenamin, his opponent in this race, initiated the establishment of that fund.
I know that people want to reduce taxes, Ewing said. You just need to limit government. Anytime you throw money to City Hall, you wreak havoc trying to get it back.
The council contingency fund, about $850,000, was another target, consisting of what Ewing termed ambiguous, unappropriated dollars. He said there is no reason for such a large appropriation.
If you've got projects, we've got a budget, let's live by that, he said, adding that the city should come up with specific things for where all of that money would be going.
Ewing said that he knows people are not satisfied with the city's record on controlling growth, and the upcoming annexation moratorium discussions are nothing but a Band-Aid. McMenamin said at the last council meeting that it should be discussed at next week's meeting, a development that Ewing thinks is suspect, timing-wise.
The city needs to be proactive rather than reactive, he said, pointing out that the traffic problem that has been brought to the fore in recent months has been with the city for quite some time. It didn't occur overnight, he said.
Citing his experience and training as a civil engineer, he said that the city needs someone with his background when dealing with development and traffic issues. Those two items, along with annexation, the environment and budget concerns are what he feels to be the most important issues in this campaign.
It's been speculated that my opponent wants to run for mayor in two years, Ewing said. The people need to take into consideration, if she abandons her post in two years, her position will be appointed. Does the city want an appointed councilperson when it's facing such critical issues in the near future?
A retired business executive and part-time college instructor, Lehman is in his first political race ever, although he has considered it before, starting back when he lived in Wisconsin.
He also thought about entering the 1995 race, but he thought he was too busy to give the campaign and the council position the attention it deserves.
He has often emphasized during his campaign the fact that, if elected, he would be a full-time councilman. The city has grown to the point that it needs that, he says.
In 18 years as a Peachtree City resident, Lehman has participated in a number of major projects, spending nearly all of that time working to resolve the development problems at the corner of Ga. Highway 54 and Walt Banks Road, which is literally in his backyard. He served on the mayor's special task force in that regard.
A frequent audience member at various council, commission and authority meetings, Lehman said that he has tried to contribute a great deal as a concerned citizen on issues such as the land-use plan update a few years ago.
I am not backed by any interest group or developer, nor have I asked for any money from anyone, he says of his campaign finances and support. Rumors that he is backed by a number of developers are simply not true, he said.
He admits to a contribution from developer Bob Adams, but says it was not solicited. Adams offered to donate to the campaign without any prodding from Lehman, who worked with Adams a great deal on the Walt Banks project, glad he's developing it. Lehman is glad Adams has control of that corner, saying that he will do a good job there.
He has also mentioned publicly that he is concerned about the city's police force possibly losing too many good, young officers to better-paying jobs in other municipalities. While he's not sure of the exact numbers, he wants to keep the turnover rate low, saying that the city must be competitive to keep its best people.
Lehman figures the race in Post 2 will be tight, probably resulting in a runoff. Everybody expects it, he said.
If you want to nail down McMenamin's profession, full-time grandmother would probably be the most accurate description.
The only incumbent in either race, she has been on the council for most of this decade. A win Tuesday would mean the start of her final council term, since term limits prohibit her from running again.
I just appreciate the city, she said. My accountability is a matter of public record. It's all about serving in the best interest of the city and being held accountable.
She has spoken out on traffic and annexation in recent months, intiating council discussions that led to the recently adopted traffic impact ordinance. She has also asked for a proposed annexation moratorium relating to the West Village to be placed on next Thursday's agenda.
A citywide moratorium currently exists for the rest of the city, she said, but it was lifted temporarily for the west side because some property owners there wanted to know the parameters for annextion.
If the proposed ordinance is approved, she said, there can be no annexation in the West Village or anywhere else unless the ordinance itself is lifted. While she admits that a council could do that anytime it wants to, she doesn't see that happening.
It [annexation] has to be philosophy of whatever council is in, she said. The current city position is that the West Village would be considered only if master-planned and pre-zoned.
But I don't see the current mayor and council allowing any annexation until these traffic problems are resolved. The one thing a governing body does not have to consider is annexation.
After nearly a decade on the City Council, McMenamin is still dogged by talk of her alleged desire to eventually run for mayor. She says that is not on her mind at all right now.
I'm focused totally on serving my community, she said. Two years is a long, long time. It's not about being mayor, but about protecting the city and the best interests of the citizens.
A doctor practicing in Peachtree City, Perlman declined to be interviewed for this article. His latest statement on the campaign can be seen on Page 1B.
A casual visit to City Hall in mid-October of 1995 led to Tennant's first involvement in Peachtree City politics.
A national accounts manager for a large corporation, he says he discovered only a few weeks before that election that Jim Pace was unopposed for the Post 2 seat. Since it was too late to qualify, he ran as a write-in candidate and picked up 42 percent of the vote.
I strongly believe I am the only candidate completely and totally against annexation and higher density, he said, citing what he thinks is the top issue in this year's race. He believes that he is one who has brought it to the fore, while his opponents have hedged in saying that they might allow annexation in certain instances.
I believe annexation and higher density benefit a few people to the detriment of many, with infrastructure problems, increased traffic and other things, he said.
Tennant claims that he has not collected one penny from a person of influence such as a developer or other business owner or individual who might be construed as having extraordinary clout. [For more on Tennant's contributions, see a related story on Page 1A.]
He also has been heard addressing the need for proper staffing in the police department. saying that the city needs to close salary gap with other municipalities to keep and attract the best-qualified officers.
Seemingly unlimited financial resources by some candidates for a campaign this size are a problem for Tennant, who said he believes a candidate should only be allowed to raise an amount equal to what the job pays in a year in this case, $6,000. It [the current system] discourages ordinary people from getting involved, he said.
Tennant's top goal is to get into a runoff next week, and then he wants to win later in November.