Cobb Chamber of Commerce

Advocacy

Election Information

In preparation for the 2018 General Primary and Special Elections Runoff on Tuesday, July 24, the Cobb Chamber Government Affairs Committee conducted a questionnaire strictly for educational purposes as a service to the Chamber's membership. Responses have been compiled, and are posted unedited below.

Exercise your right to vote! Early voting opportunities can be found here.

For more information on Cobb County elections, candidates, dates and voter information, visit the Cobb County Board of Elections website.

Statewide elections are also on this ballot. For more on these races, visit votemetroatl.com.

 

Cobb County Commissioner

District 1
Keli Gambrill
Bob Weatherford

 

Smyrna City Council

Ward 6  
Tim Gould  
Idelia Moore  

 

Cobb County Commissioner


Keli Gambrill (Cobb County Commissioner, District 1)

If elected/re-elected, what will you do to promote continued positive job growth and economic development opportunities in Cobb County?

When elected, I would support the County’s key objectives as defined pertaining to business retention and expansion programs and support Select Cobb in these efforts.

What is your position on offering tax abatements to attract new businesses to Cobb County?

Cobb County has and will continue to be a desirable location for existing and new businesses.  Prior to tax abatements being granted they are reviewed to ensure the benefit of the abatement to the applicant does not outweigh the burden to the community.

What specific solutions would you offer to solve Cobb County's transportation and traffic issues?

Cobb County has sufficient road capacity.  However, development to the North and West of Cobb impacts our ability to move without having to sit through multiple light cycles before advancing to the next intersection to wait again.  Cobb needs solutions today utilizing our existing infrastructure and resources available.

CobbLinc is over-funded and under-utilized.  While the service provides transportation, we must better utilize resources to maximize the benefit.  Cobb needs a flexible, efficient transit solution that can be customized based on need.

Do you support the expansion of public safety as the County continues to grow? How should this be done from a budgetary standpoint?

The primary responsibility of government is protecting people and property.  Funding for Public Safety should come from the General Fund that protects the financial source of  revenue.

Prior to considering expansion of Public Safety, we must first address retention of our Public Safety personnel that the County has vested time and interest in training.  The County has had compensation issues for years that have not been resolved.  The County needs to restructure Public Safety compensation and benefits programs to retain our existing Public Safety personnel.

What is your view or position regarding Community Improvement Districts (CIDs)?

Cobb County has two CIDs – Town Center and Cumberland, to promote and improve development opportunities.  The Cumberland area has experienced exponential growth over the last several years due to the The Battery.  We need to maintain a balance of growth in commercial and residential development within the means of our infrastructure.

If elected, what will you do to promote continued positive job growth and economic development opportunities in Cobb County?

Viable economic development and job growth will greatly depend on ease of access.  These types of developments should be located along corridors that can handle large volumes of traffic.  Some of this traffic will be generated from areas outside the County, yet Cobb County needs to be diligent in preserving various housing options from apartment / townhomes to multi-acre lots in an effort to provide various community characteristics that attract people here and want to call Cobb County home.

What elected leader past or present do you admire and why?

The former President Ronal Reagan and his boldness to bring about new political and economic incentives.  Paraphrasing Reagan’s quote from October 27, 1964, “The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people.  And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.” 

Cobb County used to be the County that raised the bar for other Counties to follow.  In recent years, Cobb County seems to be comparing itself to neighboring Counties and has lost sight of being the leader in the region.  Cobb is thriving, but it has and will continue to be the people that make it a great place to live, work and play.  It’s the people that deserve to have a Commissioner that recognizes this greatness while leading within the means we have to live.

Cobb has a history of rising above petty politics and working together to solve problems and getting big things done. What will you do to promote active engagement, with all sectors of the community, to move Cobb forward?

None of us is smarter than all of us.  Communication requires listening, respect of another’s viewpoint and the ability to address as many issues as possible in the final decision.  Cobb County has many wonderful programs that I had not known about prior to becoming a candidate.  Once elected, I will continue to help promote and engage the community as it is the people who have made Cobb County a desirable place to live, work and play.

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Bob Weatherford (Cobb County Commissioner, District 1)

 

If elected/re-elected, what will you do to promote continued positive job growth and economic development opportunities in Cobb County?

We have seen tremendous success in Cobb from an economic development standpoint. We have been a state and national leader in business growth and recruitment. That is because we have world-class schools, a conservative, pro-business county, strong public safety and good infrastructure. We must continue our pro-business policies and selling our strengths to continue attracting high-quality industry and high-paying jobs while also allowing our current businesses – large and small—to thrive. 

What is your position on offering tax abatements to attract new businesses to Cobb County?

My priority is to protect taxpayers through all decisions. I support strategic tax incentives to attract new business and high-paying jobs, but only if they produce a return of investment for taxpayers through new jobs here in Cobb for our citizens or if they will help keep taxes low for our homeowners.  We have recently passed new economic incentives to encourage business retention developed a concierge service.

What specific solutions would you offer to solve Cobb County's transportation and traffic issues?

I have a record of advancing projects throughout Cobb and District 1 that actually improve traffic flow and mitigate congestion. We must continue to focus road improvements that reduce gridlock and continue to work with GADOT and state leaders to advance projects like the Northwest Corridor project on I-75, Highway 92, Third Army Road and a South Dallas reliever.

Do you support the expansion of public safety as the County continues to grow? How should this be done from a budgetary standpoint?

Absolutely yes. On the Commission, I have been a champion for public safety. As the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, I have led efforts to support and enhance public safety by passing policies like allowing take home cars and better pay incentives to attract and retain the very best. My commitment to public safety is also why I proposed a penny sales tax that would be fully devoted to funding public safety. In my next term, I will continue to ensure that public safety is the number budget priority because there is nothing more important than the safety of our community and our families.

What is your view or position regarding Community Improvement Districts (CIDs)?

I support our Community Improvement Districts in Cobb. The CIDs do a great job in helping leverage resources for transportation improvements, redevelopment efforts, and economic development initiatives that are continuing to move Cobb forward.

What elected leader past or present do you admire and why?

Ronald Reagan.  He was our greatest president in terms of working across party lines to accomplish strategic goals.

Cobb has a history of rising above petty politics and working together to solve problems and getting big things done. What will you do to promote active engagement, with all sectors of the community, to move Cobb forward?

Cobb does have a history we can be proud of when it comes to getting big things done. I have been proud to work to continue this legacy in my time on the Commission. Moving forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Commission, our business community, citizens, stakeholders and Cobb six cities to get big things done to keep Cobb strong.   When compared to other counties of similar size to Cobb, we have the fewest number of incorporated cities because Cobb provides the quality services the citizens desire.

 

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Smyrna City Council


Tim Gould (Smyrna City Council, Ward 6)

What is your overall vision for the City of Smyrna?

Smyrna will lead in civic innovation, remaining a community where people want to live, raise families, run businesses and support their neighbors.

What are the three biggest challenges facing the city of Smyrna and how will you address them? What are the three biggest opportunities?

Our challenges as a city also represent our greatest opportunities. 

Supporting Our Schools: We need to raise the profile of our outstanding schools in Smyrna.  We have dedicated, talented teachers, leaders and staff. Our parents are motivated and engaged.  We have a positive story to tell and need to spread the word. Strong Smyrna schools strengthen our entire community.

Smart Growth: The City Council needs deeper community involvement in areas related to growth, helping keep Smyrna a desirable place to live. We must know the impact on our existing neighborhoods when considering growth related activities. 

Safety & Security: The City Council and Smyrna Police need to increase support of our community based groups, neighborhood watches, HOA’s, etc. These neighborhood based groups are key in helping maintain our neighborhood safety, the wellbeing of our neighbors and reducing incidents of crime.

What is your philosophy on Land Use and Zoning within the city limits?  

Keeping Smyrna a livable city must be a key priority in any zoning and land use decision.  The Vision Plan is an effective guide to long term sustained growth but continued community input will help keep Smyrna a desirable place to live.

Do you have any specific plans related to the safety and security of Smyrna’s citizens and businesses?   

Increase the number of neighborhood watch groups, support Smyrna Police initiatives around crime prevention and advocate for organizations such as Smyrna Public Safety Foundation.

What changes or improvements to City services would you see as the highest priority to improve the overall quality of life for its citizens?  

Issues that affect the livability of Smyrna are top priority. The City Council needs to continue advocating for organizations that impact schools and sustained growth such as Smyrna Education Foundation, Keep Smyrna Beautiful, Wave of Excellence, and others. We need to encourage community engagement and residents taking on civic leadership roles.

What will you do to ensure the City of Smyrna is/remains business friendly?  

In my mind, the number one issue for local businesses is keeping Smyrna livable.  We want residents to plant roots, become part of our community and support our businesses.

What is your perspective on the best ways to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area?    

Our residents expect their elected leaders to work together and support the residents of Smyrna and Cobb County. A great way to build relationships is working together for a common goal, which I believe is helping improve the lives of our residents and creating a sustainable City of Smyrna and Cobb County.   

What innovative projects would you like to bring to your City that would enhance life for its citizens? 

As a fast growing city, one of our challenges is engaging residents to become active in community groups and filling leadership roles. The typical websites, city Facebook pages, Tweets are helpful but we need to tap into the existing networks of our HOA’s, neighborhood groups and civic organizations to reach more residents. Our neighbors will support our city if we make it easy to show up, help out, and become part of our greater community. 

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Idelia Moore (Smyrna City Council, Ward 6)

What is your overall vision for the City of Smyrna?

My overall vision of Smyrna is that it will be a city with a well-defined identity that is considered safe, attractive to and highly livable for young adults, families and older citizens. I would like Smyrna to be seen as an inviting respite in the midst of Atlanta’s sprawling metropolitan area. I want it to be a city that has a close and mutually beneficial relationship to the surrounding cities and county while retaining its uniqueness and character. I want it to be known as a city that stimulates investment because it has strong, innovative city officials and leaders who cultivate new ideas, who implement change well and who regularly reassess the city’s vision and plans so that they are always current. I want city officials who are 1) welcoming to a diverse citizenry, 2) seen as helpful to small businesses and startups, 3) who produce creative solutions for city administration and services issues and 4) who are good stewards of taxpayer money while ensuring consistent, high quality services to its residents.

What are the three biggest challenges facing the city of Smyrna and how will you address them?

Growth: Smyrna’s growth needs to be intelligently, carefully and sensitively managed if the goal is to retain the aspects of Smyrna that drew and still draw people to want to live here. I believe it is critical that Smyrna have a well-defined city identity and a realistic vision plan that is fully adhered to by city government and used to inform their decisions. The question on many residents’ minds is: “Will Smyrna remain a desirable and affordable leafy suburb or will it become a concrete covered, densely populated, congested intersection on a map of urban sprawl?” I support the concept of smart growth and will introduce and support efforts to implement smart growth initiatives for Smyrna.

Our Identity: What do we want for Smyrna and what do we want its reputation to be? Smyrna’s identity is in transition. Back in the 1980s Smyrna was called a “redneck town on the edge of Atlanta”. The redevelopment of Smyrna’s city center has gone a long way to change that perception, but the fact remains we have not created a new strong identity for Smyrna. Creating a city identity that encapsulates what we want our city to be and to be seen as will be a goal of mine. Bringing all stakeholders--community, government, businesses--together to build an identity and a vision plan to support that identity will be a goal of mine.

The Future: Our city needs to appropriately--and most importantly within the city vision--address issues caused by current and projected population numbers, traffic levels, housing density, infrastructure demands and facilities’ improvements in a way that also anticipates the issues the city may face in the future. Our community’s future will be affected by a changing US economy, workforce requirements, transportation modes, consumer shopping practices and the ever-present pace of technological advancements. As a city council member, I will support forward-thinking, innovative plans to secure our future and keep Smyrna a vibrant, modern city.

What are the three biggest opportunities?

The three biggest opportunities are? Location, location, location

Location Development: Smyrna can take maximum advantage of its location, the attention it’s receiving and the changes that are happening around the periphery of Smyrna to improve but not diminish the quality of life for citizens by using its advantages to attract new businesses and tourism, increase recreation and leisure opportunities for residents and visitors and to enhance or improve other programs that benefit Smyrna’s reputation as a desirable suburb.

Location Demographic: Smyrna can take advantage of the changing demographic of those moving into the city. According to statistics these new residents have a higher than average level of education and income. We have an opportunity to engage these citizens in an ongoing dialogue with the city that can result in a broader perspective of ideas and create a sense in new residents that they are welcomed, appreciated and vested in our community. These efforts require leadership that not only talks inclusiveness and diversity but also practices it. It requires a rethinking of how new residents first encounter city government and services and then use that as a means of building a lasting connection to that resident.

Location Natural Surroundings: Because of Smyrna’s geographical location it has opportunities for developing and/or improving our residents’ and visitors’ access to outdoor recreational pursuits. The nearby Silver Comet, the Beltline and the Chattahoochee River offer opportunities for Smyrna to be seen as a hub or access point for enjoying the outdoors and natural surroundings. Sitting on a point between urban and rural landscapes makes Smyrna ideal and future opportunities to make use of this positioning are plentiful.

What is your philosophy on Land Use and Zoning within the city limits?

My philosophy on Land Use and Zoning, as well as development in general is one based on the concepts and principles of Smart Growth.

Ensuring safety for its citizens and businesses is a key to success for any community. Do you have any specific plans related to the safety and security of Smyrna’s citizens and businesses?

Safety of citizens and businesses are challenged by a myriad of safety issues which our entire society confronts daily. But our municipality can focus on increasing residents’ and visitors’ sense of physical safety and a sense that the city will assist them in protecting their property against theft and natural disasters. We rely on law enforcement and our fire department and first responders to protect us against such events, but are we giving them all the tools, training and staff they need to do the job we expect of them? I will work to ensure our law enforcement teams, fire department and first responders have access to the training, the programs and tools they need to give our citizens the levels of protection they deserve.
But safety is a collaborative effort. We residents are also responsible for our safety, whether it’s through adhering to our laws, creating neighborhood watch groups, reporting suspicious activity, installing anti-theft equipment in our houses and cars and teaching our children to practice safety at home and at school. I will support existing city outreach programs that help citizens protect themselves and their property.

Moreover supporting public safety may also mean increasing fines for offenses that endanger the public. I would like to see Smyrna have related fines that are high enough to serve as a deterrent to crime. For example, I would support increasing fines for speeding in school zones and for not stopping for school buses.

What changes or improvements to City services would you see as the highest priority to improve the overall quality of life for its citizens?

I believe Smyrna city services on the whole are good but could be improved by increasing responsiveness and shortening response time to citizens who contact the city. I think the city could do a better job of contacting neighborhoods when routine maintenance services are scheduled, especially those which might affect services such as water or impede the flow of traffic.

I would like to see recycling services broaden to include more items and to have more frequent recycling programs for shredding, electronics, etc.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the loss of the curbside service for leaves collection which Smyrna discontinued a few years ago. That is the most often mentioned city service that residents miss.

What will you do to ensure the City of Smyrna is/remains business friendly?

I will promote Smyrna’s vibrancy and business friendly culture so that we attract medium to small businesses. “Buy local” should be the catchphrase for Smyrna. Incorporating smart growth concepts for repurposing existing buildings rather than building new is also an attractive alternative for small business owners. Many of the services of big box and chain stores/restaurants that Smyrna residents regularly use are already established and a short distance away. I’d like to see more small to medium size businesses whose quality or specialty would not only benefit our residents but draw people from outside Smyrna into the city center.

What is your perspective on the best ways to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area?

I think Smyrna already has a good relationship with and the avenues for collaborating with other cities in Cobb, Cobb County government and the state to address issues of sustainability and prosperity. When the various levels of government all agree to a long term vision for the state and county it sets the groundwork for realizing the greatest opportunity to tackle mutually beneficial projects. I believe Smyrna’s importance and stake in the conversation with state and county leaders is gaining strength. Smyrna’s predicted growth is well known so it’s natural that we should have a bigger role than we’ve had in the past when the state and county are deciding on the future of this area. I’d like to see Smyrna become a model of sustainability and prosperity which the county and state can reference for other communities.

What innovative projects would you like to bring to your City that would enhance life for its citizens?

The following are a few things I would like to see for Smyrna which I think would enhance life for its citizens.

An arts/performing art facility is desperately needed in Smyrna. The arts--both the fine and performance--have no dedicated facility in which they can be exhibited or experienced nor performed and appreciated by our community. Without an arts facility a serious commitment to the arts cannot be demonstrated by the City. We have a community with an interest in the fine and performing arts. The City has so far relied solely on volunteers or volunteer organizations and outdoor venues to respond to the call from residents for arts and arts related programs. I would like to see the City of Smyrna commit to investigating avenues for providing “the bricks and mortar” necessary to host fine and performing arts events and commit to offering our citizens an opportunity to experience a higher level of art exhibits and quality theater, music and dance performances. As a preliminary to having a City of Smyrna facility I would like to see Smyrna explore a relationship to Campbell High School’s new Performing Arts Center in hopes that their new center might serve Smyrna residents as a shared performing arts facility. Other Cobb County cities share their own high school performing arts centers. I’d hope the City might follow suit.

I’d like to see Smyrna make more use of neighborhood Facebook groups and apps such as Nextdoor and SeeClickFix, to create a communications network with every neighborhood in Smyrna. This network could be used by the city for alerts or warnings, city services schedules, input and feedback from residents on crime or suspicious activities as well as allow members of these groups to report needed repairs and give feedback on issues specific to their neighborhoods.

I would also like the City of Smyrna to incorporate more sustainability and resilience initiatives into their vision plans and to commit to being proactive in preserving and protecting our environment and by creating programs that would guide the city when our resiliency might be threatened or tested.

There are literally hundreds of innovative projects cities around the country have used to enhance life for its citizens. Many of them would work well for Smyrna and I plan to encourage the city to explore incorporating these innovative, fun and mostly easy projects into some of our community events.

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