Dunwoody High School Auditorium; Sunday October 11, 2015 4:00pm. Dunwoody Candidate Forum. First Debate for City Council District 1 is Terry Nall, and Becky Springer. Second debate for Mayor is Steve Chipka, Mike Davis, Chris Grivakis, and Denis Shortal.
Incumbent Terry Nall, left, and Becky Springer seek the District 1 At-large seat on Dunwoody City Council.

Incumbent Terry Nall, left, and challenger Beck Springer seek the District 1 At-large seat on Dunwoody City Council.

Dunwoody voters go to the polls Nov. 3 to choose among two candidates for the District 1 At-large seat on Dunwoody City Council and four candidates for mayor.

The Dunwoody Reporter asked the candidates about their qualifications for office and their visions for the city’s future. Here are the answers from the two at-large council candidates. To see the answers from the mayoral candidates, go to ReporterNewspapers.net.

 Terry Nall

 Occupation: CPA and senior financial services executive

Elective offices held and previous elective or appointive offices held: Incumbent and at-large member of Dunwoody City Council since 2012.

Previous community work: Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church as elder and Clerk of Session; Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts leader, treasurer and merit badge counselor; national board member for Presbyterian Church (USA) Investment and Loan Program; Tartan Trot 5K/10K fundraiser for Youth missions; Rotary Club of Dunwoody; ad-hoc work days for many Dunwoody area nonprofits.

 Q: Why do you want to be elected to Dunwoody City Council?

A: I seek to continue building “A better Dunwoody,” where quality suburban values are preserved and enhanced against the backdrop of balanced economic development that keeps our taxes low and facilitates our quality of life that we have enjoyed for years past.

 Q: Why should the voters choose you?

A: Running for and serving on City Council is about having leadership qualities and a vision for the community. I have a proven track record of “Promises Made…Promises Kept,” as well as numerous other successful accomplishments, such as facilitating “dual accreditation” of our high schools as a backup to protect HOPE and other scholarships, as well as stabilize property values, when the DeKalb County School District SACS accreditation was in serious jeopardy.

 Q: What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now? How will you address that issue?

A: Paving. Despite the significant progress we’ve made by paving 25 percent of our roads, the laser truck analysis revealed 36 percent of our roads remain in poor condition and another 40 percent are in just fair condition. In short, deterioration is occurring at a faster pace than our paving progress. I will seek an accelerated, defined target completion date for paving all roads that are in poor or fair condition, followed by aggressive annual funding set to achieve pre-defined annual, percentage completion benchmarks toward this progress.

Q: What’s one thing about Dunwoody you think should change?

A: We must achieve our own school system so we can provide a customized approach to area schools under local control of a Dunwoody School Board. I initiated the inclusion of this legislative priority from City Council to our state representatives. I will continue to push for this in one form or another until we achieve it. It is worth the effort.

 Q: How do you see Dunwoody in 10 years?

A: In 10 years, I see Dunwoody as a city that preserved its traditional, suburban values with the added amenities of paved roads, an extensive network of sidewalks, fixed intersections that allows traffic of local residents to flow better, fields at Brook Run to serve our youth sports without fields today, and easily accessible shopping, dining and entertainment amenities in and near the Perimeter area. This is possible in 10 years if we keep a laser-like focus on our basic “needs versus wants.”

Becky Springer

Occupation: Former manager in financial industry, currently strategic domestic manager

Elective offices held: none

Previous community work: Two years on Austin Elementary PTA; two years on Redfield Home & Garden Board; volunteer at Dunwoody United Methodist Church and lay speaker; volunteer at Piedmont Mason Transplant helping to secure grant money.

Q: Why do you want to be elected to the Dunwoody City Council?

A: I have always been interested in the political landscape, whether on the national or local level.  I supported Dunwoody becoming its own city because I felt that it would allow us to better preserve the integrity of our city.  However, several decisions made recently are threatening to undermine that integrity.  I see a void in the council’s ability to manage its people, projects and our money.  Instead of the City Council, I think it should be called the “Citizen’s Council” to reflect the idea that our council members are there on behalf of its citizens.  We need new blood on the council, a voice for the people, and a leader to negotiate and make sound financial decisions for our city.

Q: Why should the voters choose you?

A: If the qualifications for the job are: an intelligent, independent thinker, who has the ability to manage people and projects on a deadline, while researching and finding creative solutions to problems, and working with peers to implement those solutions in an efficient and effective manner, then I am perfectly suited for the job.  While at INVESCO for nine years, I was promoted three times, and managed people and projects with tight deadlines.  Our department was sales, and my group wrote RFPs to secure business.  So, I know how to read RFPs to solicit vendors for the city.  Sometimes, the cheapest vendors aren’t the best, if they don’t have experience.  They end up making mistakes, and costing the project much more money.  Additionally, I have been in sales my whole life; this experience is integral in negotiating projects, so that the deal is mutually beneficial, not just us as a city giving away huge incentives to builders when it isn’t necessary.

Q: What do you see as the most significant issue facing the city right now?  How will you address that issue?

A: The most significant issue addressing the city presently is one that really doesn’t affect citizens on a daily basis, however it greatly impacts the direction of the city over the next 10-15 years: zoning.  Atlanta has experienced urban crawl over the last 20 years.  Initially businesses resided downtown, until rental costs became too prohibitive.  So, businesses moved to Midtown, then to Buckhead and now to Dunwoody and surrounding areas outside I-285.  As the city grows, more people move here, and that creates more traffic, more apartments, overcrowded schools and a strain on our city’s resources.  I believe that to preserve our way of life we need to have clear lines of demarcation on where and how big projects can reside.  For example, is it appropriate to zone an area on Ashford-Dunwoody Road for up to a 16-story condo building that backs right up to a residential neighborhood?  As a city, we need to be sensitive to the amount and location of multifamily units that are built in Dunwoody.  The council needs to be protective of its citizens’ privacy and home values, while making prudent, logical and respectful decisions about commercial ventures in the PCIDs and elsewhere.

Q: What’s the one thing about Dunwoody you think should change?

A: If we are all going to live in harmony and face the amazing future that our city holds, we need to change our mindset.  Some say, “Oh, I don’t want anything to change, I love our little Dunwoody the way it is.”  The reality is that change is here, whether we like it or not.  So, we can sit idly by doing nothing, or we can embrace the change and do something with it.  Some love the idea of our city becoming a biking community full of bike lanes; others hate that and see it as a big waste of time and resources.  The reality is that both of these groups live happily here in Dunwoody.  So, what do we do?  Compromise is the word of the day.  Where it is feasible both monetarily and without space constraints, the city installs bike lanes.  In an ideal world, our city would have been constructed with sidewalks and bike lanes everywhere.  However, the great builders of 1970 did not see the need.  Therefore, we are left to manage as best we can, and compromise is necessary to accomplish our collective goals.

Q: How do you see Dunwoody in 10 years?

A: I see a healthy, happy thriving city with a refurbished downtown, that looks more like a downtown Roswell or Decatur, with more good restaurants and stores.  Perhaps a destination place where friends and neighbors want to be on a Friday night with their children, eating, playing and shopping.  Perhaps some walked or biked to get there.  Others would have adequate parking, if they needed to arrive by car.  We would be enjoying our new school system that was created by allowing us to have our own school district, or maybe we had decided to set up a state-funded charter school like Brookhaven, where in either case we were hiring our own teachers and setting our own curriculum.  Crime would be greatly reduced, because we streamlined our police budget, hired the appropriate number of officers, and concentrated police patrolling in critical crime areas.  Police presence is one of the best deterrents of crime.

I have great hopes for the future of Dunwoody, but we need to have strong leadership to achieve our goals.  We need to bring tenacity, integrity and accountability back to our City Council.

Joe Earle

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.