Many long-time Dunwoody residents say that in election years, their city’s political season starts with its popular Fourth of July parade. Candidates, they say, like to announce their intentions in time to appear in the parade and shake a few hundred hands.

But when the July 4 parade stepped off this year, only a single candidate had announced his intention to run for one of the three seats on Dunwoody City Council up for election Nov. 5.

Things have changed.

Over the week starting July 16, two incumbent councilmen announced they plan to run again, and three other candidates publicly announced plans to run together as a slate and try to oust the incumbents from office.

Heyward Wescott
Heyward Wescott

Heyward Wescott, a Dunwoody Homeowners Association board member, who had been the sole announced candidate, said he welcomed the new campaigners because they would increase interest in the election, sharpen the public debate and energeize supporters.

Incumbent Councilmen Denis Shortal and Doug Thompson announced July 16 they plan to run for re-election to the seats they now hold.

Denis Shortal
Denis Shortal

Shortal, who represents District 1, said he decided to seek a return to the council in order to “continue the progress we’ve made and not to regress.”

“My ideals and my ideas, I think, are in line with the majority of citizens,” he said in a telephone interview. “I think we have to ensure we will continue to do what we told the people we would do. I think I have done that.”

Thompson issued a short statement saying he planned to run again in District 3. “It is with great excitement and the support of my family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, that I announce that I am seeking re-election for the local District 3 City Council post with the city of Dunwoody,” he said. “The great things going on in our city have inspired me to seek another term as I continue to advocate for paving, parks and police.”

Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, who represents District 2, also is reaching the end of her current term. She had not announced publicly whether she intends to seek re-election. Wescott is running for the District 2 seat.

At the Dunwoody City Council meeting July 22, the number of announced candidates doubled.

Calling themselves the “clean sweep candidates,” Jim Riticher, Henly Shelton and Sam Eads announced plans to run as a slate of candidates opposed to the current direction of the city. Riticher said he plans to run in District 2. Shelton said he will run in District 1 and Eads said he will run in District 3.

“Clean sweep” Dunwoody City Council candidates, from left, Henly Shelton, Sam Eads and Jim Riticher at the council meeting on July 22.
“Clean sweep” Dunwoody City Council candidates, from left, Henly Shelton, Sam Eads and Jim Riticher at the council meeting on July 22.

Riticher said the three were “dedicated to basic and practical improvements, and common-sense solutions favored by a majority of Dunwoody residents.”

“We are nonpartisan candidates and we are not members of – or beholden to – any organization or government agency, …” Riticher said, reading from a prepared statement. “We intend to restore trust and confidence in Dunwoody city government.”

The text named groups the three said they were “not beholden to” – Save Dunwoody, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, the Dunwoody Bicycle Club and the Atlanta Regional Commission.

But before their announcement, they mentioned local issues that have inspired area yard signs and letters to the editor, including the city’s multi-use trail through Brook Run Park and the Dunwoody Village Parkway.

“You hear people stand up and say, ‘I’ve not been listened to,’” Shelton said. “Well, I’ll do something about it. I will listen.”

Douglas Thompson
Douglas Thompson

And, it turns out, all the newly announced candidates did take part in the July 4 parade this year.

In their statement, the three on the “clean sweep” slate said they carried signs that read, “clap if you want your roads repaved.”

Shortal and Thompson appeared, too, as sitting members of City Council.

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.