In the race for mayor in Brookhaven, both candidates agree on a lot of things that Mayor John Ernst has accomplished, including:

1. Brookhaven is the safest city, thanks to our tremendous police force;

2. Acquiring 55 acres of green space and building the Peachtree Creek Greenway with outside funding sources is good for the community;

3. We are on the right track with improving city infrastructure, such as paving, stormwater and sidewalks; and

4. Acquiring four new parks and enhancing all 18 city parks with new facilities and features.

Having worked with both Mayor Ernst and his opponent in various capacities over the past five years, I have observed some clear differences that are relevant to this election.

Ernst unites and leads.  His opponent divides.

John Ernst immediately set out to unify the city in his first speech as mayor-elect: “There is no longer a Brookhaven Yes or Brookhaven No. Today there is only Brookhaven.” Upon election, he unified the council and with unanimous support removed the city manager and set out to clean up the mess from the previous administration. He set the tone and led the council in setting clear direction to city staff without constant interference, took the politics out of capital improvements such as paving (we have the best roads in Georgia), and successfully stood up to powerful interests such as Children’s Healthcare, where he negotiated a $46 million community investment agreement. The previous administration could only manage $342,500.

His opponent divides by making inaccurate and inconsistent statements to fit her narrative. Even though she was on the overlay rewrite committee, she waited until the end to criticize reduction of some parking requirements in the transit-oriented development only. This was after she criticized the Dresden Drive tag office development for its additional parking, saying it was not necessary.

Ernst is forward-thinking. His opponent is stuck in the past and the old ways of DeKalb.

John Ernst is looking toward the future by planning for rainy days with a 35% reserve, initiating sustainable Brookhaven, implementing it with a green public safety building, and leading on smart development. When Brookhaven lost in the Georgia Supreme Court to deny the development at the Hastings site, it became clear that developers would be able to build what was approved by DeKalb County in 2005 along Peachtree Road. Mayor Ernst had the foresight to implement smart development with the overlay rewrite. Density was curbed indirectly with stringent green space requirements, increased setbacks, and unit size minimums.  In the overlay process, his opponent spoke in a public forum concerning the Dresden tag office development, asking for 50 units an acre (instead of 60 units requested) on behalf of her community group. The mayor and council eventually approved 42 units an acre with townhomes, increased green space, and a standalone restaurant. Like the DeKalb days, she did not engage in good faith and claimed the development was detrimental to the community, when it was far better than what she initially requested.

Ernst gets the big picture. His opponent is stuck in the minutiae.

There are many challenges with growth throughout the metro area that will affect us in Brookhaven, and it is necessary for the mayor to engage outside of Brookhaven to address regional issues. He led the mayors from Smyrna to Doraville in initiating and funding a plan for transit along the top end of I-285. This will be integrated into the regional transit plan. During the Oct. 16 candidate forum, his opponent chose to attack the mayor about sidewalks on Buford Hightway (managed by the Georgia Department of Transportation) and accused the mayor of not engaging GDOT on Ashford-Dunwoody Road (managed by the city). The truth is, Brookhaven is working with GDOT and Children’s Healthcare to fund sidewalks on Buford Highway, and Brookhaven is implementing intersection improvements on the Ashford-Dunwoody Road corridor (not GDOT). I can understand how a candidate would not know what entities are responsible for certain roads before taking office, but if one chooses to attack, one should get the facts straight.

Mayor Ernst has led.  We will vote for him because he is the kind of leader we need to keep to fully realize the vision of Brookhaven. He will finish the Peachtree Creek Greenway, explore and implement innovative solutions to address issues associated with growth, and improve the quality of life in Brookhaven and the region. The choice is clear.

John Park
Brookhaven City Councilmember, District 2
IT consultant, JMichael Consulting

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