Rep. Tom Taylor, left, and Oliver Porter, right, discuss running for office in a new city during a forum on Aug. 11, 2012 at St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church.

Oliver Porter, a man known for his work standing up Georgia’s new cities, stood in front of the room of more than three dozen people interested in running for Brookhaven’s first City Council and gave them some advice.

Don’t waste the new city’s time, he said.

“Don’t run on a lark,” Porter said. “Be serious about it.”

Rep. Tom Taylor and Porter held the informational session on the morning Saturday, Aug. 11, at St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church. More than three dozen people interested in running attended.

Both Taylor and Porter are versed in the topic of running a new government. Taylor is a former Dunwoody City Councilman and Porter was a integral part of creating Sandy Springs and its unique public private partnership model.

Both men said having too many candidates would increase the chance of runoff elections, needlessly dragging out the process of selecting the city’s first leaders.

Taylor walked the audience through the ABCs of campaigning, when to file, what forms they would need, how much it would cost and how to record campaign contributions.

Porter gave political advice. Learn about the public private partnership model and be able to discuss it intelligently during the campaign, he said. He said when someone asks where a new city hall should be, smile and say, “We will select the most acceptable and least costly space.”

Don’t expect easy negotiations with DeKalb County about providing transitional or permanent police and fire services, he said.

For that matter, don’t expect the first year as a council member to be easy, Porter and other speakers said. It will involve back-to-back late night meetings, responding to questions without easy answers and in most cases learning how to be an elected official from scratch.

“I’m put on this panel to scare the heck out of you,” Sandy Springs Councilwoman Dianne Fries told audience. “It is not a part-time job. This first year you will be slammed. Give it some consideration with your family, your jobs, your golf game. Give it a lot of thought.”

In this video: Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker, left, Sandy Springs Councilwoman Dianne Fries, center and state Rep. Tom Taylor, right, take questions about setting up a new city:

Mike Bodker, Mayor of Johns Creek, urged candidates who might be affiliated with the No City Brookhaven movement to avoid running if their intent is to be obstructionist. No one at the meeting identified with the No City movement.

Qualifying officially begins Monday, Aug. 13, at 9 a.m. and lasts through Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 4:30 p.m.

For the District 2 and District 4 candidates, winning their seats will be the beginning of a months-long marathon. Those seats will be up for re-election in 2013. The District 1, District 3 and the mayor’s seat will be on the ballot in 2015.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Julian Fortuna, an attorney who’s thinking about getting into the District 1 race, said the forum gave him some things to consider.

“I think it’s focused on the right topics which at this point are what you need to know about mounting a successful campaign and even more importantly about holding the office,” Fortuna said.

Hope Bawcom, a potential District 3 candidate, said the meeting gave her important information.

“Those personal insights were helpful,” she said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of