Friday, September 2, 2011

Final slate of Dunwoody candidates for November 8th municipal election.

This evening the final slate of canadidates for the November 8th municipal election was finalized as registration closed at 4:30 pm.  There are three contested races; that of Mayor, Council post 4 the at large seat from District 1 (Westside of Town) and Council post 5 the at large seat from District 2 (Center of Town).  My name will also be on the ballot for Council post 6 from District 3 (Eastside of Town) but I was the only candidate who qualified, therefore I am in an uncontested race.  All three contested races in November are elected at-large, meaning that every Dunwoody resident will be voting for Mayor and the representatives from District 1 and 2 no matter where you live.

The Mayoral race has had two individuals (Bob Dallas & Mike Davis) looking to replace outgoing Mayor Ken Wright for what seems like months and then today there was a last minute addition of Mr. Gordon Jackson who also entered the race.  This evening I had the pleasure of talking to Gordon (whom I have known for many years) at the Dunwoody High School Football Game and I know that he will be bringing his vision for the future of Dunwoody (which he believes is slightly different that the other two candidates) into the many public discussions yet to be had.

Robert Wittenstein in District 1 will be facing two challengers Mr. Terry Nall and announcing today also at the last minute, Mr. Rick Callihan.

In District 2 there are two candidates looking to replace the outgoing Councilman Danny Ross and they are Ms. Lynn Deutsch and Mr. Kerry de Vallette.

Though it appears that my election season is over, like everyone else in the City, I want the best Mayor and Council available therefore I want to hear their opinions on various items so that the Citizens of Dunwoody can vote effectively for who they believe will work towards what is best for the City of Dunwoody.  

Councilman Robert Wittenstein has a track record of previous votes, taken public positions on items and has published monthly updates to residents for quite some time therefore the community knows where he stands on many issues.  Everyone else is basically new to the game or has a clean slate (besides what I can find on the internet) therefore before I know who to vote for, I need to hear the positions of those running.  I need to hear their ideology, their philosophy, their aspirations, goals, positions on items that I know will be coming in front of council and after all else, I personally want to see their work ethic.  Everyone on the ballot in November will be vying to Serve & Represent all 48,000 Dunwoody residents therefore I want to hear how you will be serving all aspects of the community and doing so fairly in such a way as to bring the community together, without appearing to tear us apart.

I have met with a few of the new candidates as they wanted insight as to the position and I happily answered every question.  I explained workload, the joys and trials of public service, the positives and negatives as well as where I stand on many issues.  But as I told them, I am already an open book with 3 years of service, 1,700 blog posts and numerous public votes but now it is their turn to tell their story to convince you and me why they deserve our vote over the other candidates in the race.

I will be posting candidate pages up to my site for Ms. Deutsch, Mr. de Vallette, Mr. Callihan, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Wittenstien in the coming days as I have done for the others and am toying with the idea of doing video interviews with any and all who are interested.

If I were to do that, what questions would you like answered?  I think we need to start a list therefore please feel free to comment on the blog or send me an email as I am interested in your thoughts.

As long as this election is all about the issues, forward looking and positive; I believe this election cycle will be a good thing for the city.


Lindsay said...

Number one, ask where they stand on chickens. Also ask there vision of what the city should look like in the future. Throw in a transportation question, complete streets and schools. That should be a good start.

Lindsay said...

darn typos

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Lindsay (and everyone else with a bent on "urban farming")

Why are "chickens" the number one issue? Is that really the most important issue or question facing our City?

I think you'll have a very hard time justifying that.

I'd like to hear from our incumbents why so much time, effort, money, and angst was put toward making that special interest such a high priority after they were elected when it played no part in their campaign.

kathrynch said...

To me, the issue of chickens is not really about "urban farming", it is about property rights. That is why it keeps coming up - in my opinion. It just represents a big issue.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...


If that's the mindset being taken (property rights - and FTR I don't believe that was the case by the strongest proponents) then it's going to be necessary to completely re-evaluate *ALL* zoning rules/regs for residential areas from the top all the way down.

Not that that would be a bad thing. I can think of quite a few residential zoning codes that could use a thorough re-evaluation.

But if we're going to talk about "property rights" then call it "property rights". Not "the right to farm chickens". Big difference and too much potential for conflicting zoning regs if they're based on individual special interests.

Chip said...

PART 1 of 2

I see the great chicken debate as an allegory of the issues facing the City of Dunwoody and its new council members.

The chicken debate started when a well-intentioned citizen asked if he/she could raise chickens in Dunwoody. This citizen was involved in what has, colloquially, become known as the "sustainable foods" or "urban farming" concept.

One of our new Councilors (RW)decided that this was one of those "must do" things and put it on the council agenda. In spite of protests akin to SDOC (is this really a priority?, etc.) our noble councilor made appeal to the principle that ordinances matter, that no ordinance can go unenforced, and that it's better to be on the side of the law rather than sleeping peacefully and unobtrusively outside the law.

Once this issue went public, we saw the material the other councilors were made of. Two councilors weren't interested in chickens in Dunwoody, because they harkened back to the days when they had to clean Grandpa's chicken coop on the farm. The fact that Grandpa probably had dozens of chickens and the issue was about 6-8 chickens (difference in scale) was simply not important to our erstwhile defenders of urban sanity.

Then the Mayor got into the fray suggesting that "hundreds of emails" had been received, mostly disposed against having chickens. When pressed by one blonde denizen through an open records request to document that claim, it turned out there were fewer than a dozen actual emails. The Mayor, caught in a fib, then "explained" his original comment was meant to include"private conversations, chance meetings on the street, etc."

Finally, the council got into position to vote, and the vote was clearly 3-3, generally along the lines of the "at-large" versus "local district" councilors. Then the Mayor threw in the deciding vote "no".

Here's where I have to go back a bit, before we get to the conclusion of this story. One of the other "legal" arguments for passing such an ordinance was the oft-maligned County of DeKalb and it's lax enforcement of Codes. This behavior couldn't be allowed in Dunwoody, nosirree!, we were going to be a responsible community and demonstrate what fair, equitable enforcement of ordinances could do to the quality of life in our little burg.

Chip said...

PART 2 of 2

Now, back to the main story. Once the mayor cast his vote and the ordinance was "on the books" another local voter asked the salient question: "When can we expect the chickens to be removed?"

To which the sovereign City Manager (appointed by the Mayor) replied: We don't have the resources to enforce this ordinance, so we're putting it on a "as complaint received" basis.

And thus ended the great chicken debate.

Less the point be missed, here's the point and moral of the allegory.

The overzealous Councilor wanted to do the right thing. Other councilors were closed-minded and prejudiced and couldn't be bothered to challenge their preconceptions. The mayor prevaricated and exaggerated to persuade and promote his point, and to avoid actually taking a position. The previous government was derided and blamed for lax enforcement.

And then, finally, the new government showed that it was exactly like the old government, with lax enforcement, distortions of truth, and unwillingness to make decisions.

So, when Lindsay asks "Where do they stand on chickens?" she's not really talking about chickens. She's asking are they persons of character and vision, willing to look at problems from another point of view, do they accept that a certain amount of distortion and exaggeration are all "part of the game" of government or are they for open and clear discussion and debate.

Yes "where do they stand on chickens?" is an important bellwether. If the candidate says, "That's behind us." or "you're joking, right?" then they haven't paid enough attention to how things have been run in Dunwoody nor do they understand the cozy relationship between the Mayor, certain councilors, and the City Manager. And maybe the concerned voter should look elsewhere before making his/her choice.

Bob Lundsten said...

I love it CHICKENS !!!!
You got to love this place.
It is about property rights. It is about the fear of change
you can have a 150 St. Bernard fouling the neighboerhood ( I had one as a kid) but that is OK.
"bent on urban farming"? what does that mean?
The ability to grow your own food is a bad thing?. The fact that the Community Garden has been responsible for oaver 2000 pounds of food being donated to the food pantry is a bad thing.
The issues facing this city are many though many would rather stick their heads in the sand and ignore them. Others would rather do what ever they can to stop change and growth. Still others just want to live in the 70's.
SDOC I admire your comments, and urge you to get really involved in the discussions during this political season.
I lookk forward to honest, open and POSITIVE debates.

Bob Lundsten said...

Chip, I have to say this you and I actually agree.
BUt a note of correction, I asked for the open records on the emails during the chicken fiasco. So I know you were not talking about me.
The object of my request was not the Mayor, but of two of our SENIOR concil members who both related "chickens on the farm" stories. ( thought the Mayor may have said somethng about the number of emails).
The funniest things I found in reviewing the 1,500 emails
1. the number of individuals against was about 7
2. Most of the emails were between the council and those 7 people and the incredibly long email chains.

kathrynch said...

Well said Chip and Bob L. I was going to give a history lesson on the Dunwoody chicken debate but now I don't have to! Thanks! Just as a point of clarification, those of us who had backyard chickens before this whole thing started - and I was one - NEVER asked for it to start. We were content with the way things were. But when it had begun, we jumped in wholeheartedly to give our point of view but mostly to EDUCATE the council and community what this new fangled "Backyard Chicken Keeping" was all about. :-) The entire process was an eye opener and taught me quite a bit - some good lessons and some bad. And as a side note, I found homes for my chickens in crazy rural areas like the City of Decatur and Little Five Points in the City of Atlanta where the backyards are postage stamp sized. And I had over an acre in Dunwoody. Go figure.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Great comments all. You're reinforcing a point I've made here and elsewhere that a beneficial system of residential ordinances has to be built, not by copy/pasting ordinances from other cities, and not piecemeal by catering to the individual special interests of council members' friends. Which, respectfully, IMHO, was the case with the poultry.

I think it is finally time to set one uniform standard of what kind of activity is acceptable in a residential neighborhood (breaking it down by zone if necessary - R50, R75, R100, etc) and everyone has to meet it, no matter who they are and what they are doing. I have my own special interests too but I also try to be careful to determine a line between my "rights" and the equally-important "rights" of those around me.

Chip to your comment here:
"So, when Lindsay asks "Where do they stand on chickens?" she's not really talking about chickens. She's asking are they persons of character and vision, willing to look at problems from another point of view, do they accept that a certain amount of distortion and exaggeration are all "part of the game" of government or are they for open and clear discussion and debate."

If it's "not really about chickens" then say so. Allegories don't seem to get the point across too well here. Best to just say what you mean, clearly, and leave the allegories to past disasters elsewhere.

FTR, I think backyard chickens are a bad idea. The reasons are too long and involved for a response on a blog, but if you really want to hear it, I'm easy to find. :-) Yes, they are based on the first-hand experience of family members who raised them. Contrary to popular opinion, it's rather recent in many cases, not "the old days". Doesn't mean I'm not willing to talk, and it also doesn't mean that I'm "prejudiced" or any other smartass name on a blog. Seems to me the first step in discussing where our ordinances should go is acknowledging that people who disagree with you on chickens are not evil incarnate.

Who here can do that?

Chip said...


I don't know Lindsay, and I didn't know whether she meant chickens literally or not. So, maybe she really meant "where do they stand on chickens?"

For my part, I saw the whole chicken issue as allegory. If you're personally opposed to backyard chickens, then the issue, for you, "is over." Let's not take it any further, here.

For those of us who watch how the City runs it's business at the policy level, the chicken discussion shows how very little the actual process of governance had changed from the inception of the City of Dunwoody.

My recommendations concerning character, values, leadership, openness, etc. all flow from the allegory of the overzealous do-gooder, the close-minded elders, the exaggerating Mayor, and the sovereign and unmoved City Manager.

Caveat voter.


Lindsay said...

Chip, 'she' said nothing here, I did. Adrienne, yes the chicken issue is a bit of inside baseball here. I threw it out for discussion to solicit a discussion of the issues. That happened here. Sometimes it's better if people aren't fed direct lines. So if a casual comment I made can lead into a discussion like this then I'll stick to the allegories.

One thing I can add is that sometimes members of the city council forget that they are not running a homeowners association but a city. A city comprised of many neighborhoods, not one big subdivision. Adrienne gives a perfect example that she is against chickens for one reason or another. Her homeowners association is a perfect place to deal with this. Instead we had 7 people out of 48,000 complaining so now, no chickens for anyone.

Just my 2 cents, what the heck.

GaryRayBetz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GaryRayBetz said...

For a good time write in "Gary Ray Betz" for Mayor of Dunwoody - the only candidate honest enough to admit he is a whore...

Site Admin said...

Write in Thaddeus Osborne Dabell. At least he's dead.

DunwoodyPhD. said...

Such a pedestrian comment from one who graduated (albeit just barely) from a fine institution such as Middlebury college.

"GaryRayBetz said...
For a good time write in "Gary Ray Betz" for Mayor of Dunwoody - the only candidate honest enough to admit he is a whore..."

Chip said...


I apologize for the gender confusion on my part. My ethnic roots are not in the Celtic tradition, and I fell into the trap of modernity by assuming something I should have known better to be incorrect.

Please accept my regret for offending you.