Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick.

Occupation:  I have been with the city of Norcross for nearly 14 years in the Community Development Department. I currently am the Senior Planner.

Previous elected offices held: City of Doraville, eight years as a councilman. I also served as mayor pro tem.

Other community service experience:  I served President and Vice-President of the DeKalb Municipal Association.  I participated in the Chamblee/Doraville Buford Highway Livable Centers Initiative. I supported the creation of the Chamblee/Doraville CID. I supported the creation of the Assembly CID. I have participated in neighborhood cleanups and community tree-planting events.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

First, I am concerned about the future of DeKalb County. Looking at growth projections, DeKalb falls behind Gwinnett and Cobb counties in population growth. That means DeKalb falls to fourth place for jobs for our residents, housing options, property values, in opportunities for our residents and overall desirability of our community.

The second factor is the water and sewer system. I believe that what is holding our communities is the lack of infrastructure investment from DeKalb County. It is difficult to encourage new residents, businesses and development to call DeKalb home when sewage overflows into our parks, backyards and communities.

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

I believe the biggest issues facing District 1 are the problems with the water and sewer infrastructure as well as collaboration between the county and the municipalities. I will address the water and sewer infrastructure issue by working with commissioners to make the necessary repairs and upgrades a priority. I will work with property owners, neighborhood associations and community improvement districts to coordinate county improvements with redevelopment opportunities. I believe each has strengths and weaknesses in the services they provide. By working together, we can minimize the service overlaps and gaps while improving our residents satisfaction in our communities.

What makes you the best candidate to challenge the incumbent?

The realities of DeKalb County will require leadership across budgeting, economic development, community safety and health; welcoming and equity concerns for our diverse and aging communities; access to housing and transportation options for our residents; and educational needs that provide our residents with the skills needed to improve their lives and bring growth to DeKalb County for future generations. We cannot afford a single issue or divisive candidate. I have over 20 years of service to the community I live in and the community I work in, and I believe my experience is ideal for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

What strengths and weaknesses have the coronavirus pandemic crisis revealed in DeKalb County government?

One of the strengths displayed in the early stages of the coronavirus is when CEO Thurmond held the Facebook Live town hall with all the department heads in the government and explained not just what we heard on the news, but how DeKalb’s government was positioned to respond to the emergency. One of the weaknesses DeKalb County displayed in the early stages of the coronavirus was the lack of collaboration between the cities and the county. To weather any storm or crisis, we must operate more inclusively and have good working relationships with our local municipalities and the county.

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