Qualification begins today at 8:30 a.m. for filling the vacant City Council seat left by Councilman Tom Taylor when he decided to run for Fran Millar's open seat on the Georgia House of Representatives. To anyone who is thinking about running, let me tell you that serving on the City Council is personally rewarding on so many levels and that I am honored to be serving all 40,000 Dunwoody residents on the Council but that being said, the amount of work and dedication that it takes to properly serve can also be overwhelming at times.
First, my wife is a Saint for putting up with my schedule and my boys are starting to learn that having a Dad on the City Council sometimes means that they have to share my time with others who might also want to talk to me. If your family isn't behind the decision, don't do it.
Be prepared to stop reading for pleasure and start reading technical ordinances for how the proposed laws will affect the Citizens of Dunwoody once passed, yet you will also need to have the foresight to question what will be the unintended consequences of the proposed ordinance 5 years from now.
Be prepared to work closely with the other members of the Council as we are all very different and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Over time, you will find your own niche on the council, utilizing your special skill set whatever that may be and with time the members of the council may come to trust your judgment in that specific area. Make your presence known in the campaign, then on the council since we (I) actively want your assistance and therefore we want to get to know you and your strengths as fast as possible.
Prepare to communicate with those who look to you for leadership, be it through personal interaction, e-mail replies, personal phone calls, monthly e-mail blasts, daily blog posts or whatever form of communication works personally for you.
If elected, you will be serving as the local District 3 representative and you must be ready to represent all the residents living in the district, not just your subdivision and not just the people who specifically voted for you. You will be directly representing thousands of people who live in apartments, people of different generations, faiths, ideologies, cultures and various socio-economic levels different than yourself, therefore if you cannot attempt to leave your biases at the door in order to openly serve the needs of the community as a whole. Please don't apply.
As a local representative elected by only the Citizens of District 3, you should steadfastly represent your district yet you should also have the vision and conviction to serve the greater good of the City as a whole. As a resident of District 3 myself, if you can't walk that fine line; I would prefer you didn't run.
If you think serving on the City Council means just two meetings a month, you're kidding yourself. I attend the monthly DHA meetings to gauge their opinions on various topics; the Community Council sees most big issues first with the Planning Commission weighing in after that and I must stay attuned with everything they do. The Board of Zoning Appeals, Sustainability Commission, Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau all make decisions and/or recommendations that directly affect the future of the City. I read the Dunwoody Crier every week from cover to cover with added emphasis on the Letters to the Editor, I read the Dunwoody and DeKalb related blogs as well as many of the comments; in order to get the pulse of the community. Finally I read city related e-mails on a daily basis (sometimes late into the evening) because if I skip a day or two the number of e-mails to review will be overly daunting. Being well informed is one of the more difficult aspects of the job and it takes quite a bit of time to do it properly.
Though the City Manager and his staff run the day to day operations of the city, it is the Mayor and the City Council who are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in this City and I feel that I (we) must stay well attuned to what is happening on all fronts. If there is criticism of city services, policies or employees such as the actions of a police officer, I see that as a personal criticism of myself and my oversight. I take pride in all that the City of Dunwoody has become and it is my hope that those who decide to run in the current election will have the same dedication that the Mayor and current members of the Council have.
If I haven't talked you out of running for city council yet, I look forward to serving with you.