Jody Reichel

Jody Reichel.

Occupation: Real estate investor.

Previous experience holding elected offices: President of North Springs High School PTO, 2013-2015; Vice-President of The Davis Academy PTO, 2004-2005.

Other community service experience: Community service has always been a major priority in my life. In addition to assisting various organizations, 22 years ago I initiated the Holiday Gift Program at Jewish Family and Career Services. The program has provided Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa gifts to hundreds of families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area who were experiencing economic challenges. Over the years, I have volunteered with Sandy Springs Education Force, Northside Hospital, Family Promise, Girls on The Run, Hands on Atlanta, Junior Achievement, Trees Atlanta, and Winship Cancer Institute. I was selected Volunteer of the Year at North Springs High School in 2015.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I have spent much of my spare time performing civic and community work, including acting as treasurer of my neighborhood’s homeowners’ association. Combined with my work in real estate investment, a career in computer banking sales, and a degree in business and economics, I feel prepared to pursue a career in public service. With my children in college, I have the time to pursue this new challenge. I have my finger on the pulse of Sandy Springs and have the energy and commitment to advocate for the best interests of District 4 in cooperation with the city’s other districts.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

As a resident of Sandy Springs for 25 years, I have watched our city grow and flourish. With growth comes challenges. Each day, over 100,000 cars travel to or through our city, causing congestion on our main roads and in our neighborhoods. The constituents of the 4th District cite traffic congestion as our biggest challenge. We must move cars more rapidly through our city and develop a plan to deter people from cutting through neighborhoods. Solutions could be refining timed traffic lights, adding speed bumps, ensuring that “do not block intersection” markings work, and expanding public transit within Sandy Springs.

The mayor and current City Council have made redevelopment of northern Roswell Road’s shopping centers and apartments a priority. What do you think redevelopment’s goal should be and what is the best way to achieve it?

The residents of the northern district want desirable neighborhood shops and restaurants. To attract businesses, I support the addition of mixed-use developments and enforcing owners of existing apartments to comply with the city’s code of ordinances. A goal of any redevelopment plan should include a new and modernized building for North Springs High School, and the city council should work closely with the Fulton County Board of Education on this effort. Redevelopment along northern Roswell Road is critical for the future of our city, and as a member of the City Council, I will make this a priority.

What is the best way for the city to deal with ever-increasing traffic?

The six north Fulton cities are working together to create comprehensive regional solutions, not city-by-city solutions. We must also work with neighboring East Cobb and Dunwoody because those two areas account for the majority of traffic that enters Sandy Springs each day. Because of TSPLOST, many projects are in progress; however, we must continue to creatively address the problems. The best solution is to get people out of their cars and give them other transportation options. This can be achieved by expanding public transit and adding walking and bike paths within and outside of Sandy Springs.

Is the city doing enough to ensure housing is affordable to middle- and low-income residents? Are there other strategies the city should try?

The strongest communities include a thriving middle class.  We want our teachers, police and fire personnel, and other workers to be able to afford to live in the community they support, and make it possible for seniors to downsize but remain in the community. To achieve this, I support exploring options such as “purpose built” communities, offering incentives to developers to add affordable housing to their projects, and Community Development Block Grants. I support our City Council’s plan to form a task force to explore the most beneficial strategies to insure that housing is available to all income levels.

What city service or program needs improvement? How would you improve it?

Sandy Springs Code Enforcement provides officers who administer the city’s codes and ordinances, designed to protect the safety and well-being of our citizens. Using an app on their phone or other device, a person may report issues. The app is helping our homeowners’ associations and individual citizens report violations of codes. While useful, we need to create a system for guaranteeing that the problem is resolved. This may be accomplished by providing a report number that the constituent may use to receive updates throughout the process. This will help further enhance the quality of life we enjoy in Sandy Springs.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.