In a world that feels fraught with uncertainty and division, the concept of a strong city with strong leaders should serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration.
SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT
As a Brookhaven city leader, I am troubled by misrepresentations about the state of our city, the 16th largest in Georgia.
In service of political expediency, I’ve heard several recent falsehoods about Brookhaven: Specifically, that the city is “operating in deficit spending” and that “our finances are in disarray.”
The facts are that, as required by the city charter, Brookhaven has a monetary reserve and is one of six cities in the state with a “Double Triple AAA” bond rating. You don’t get that rating when your finances are in disarray. What’s more, Brookhaven enjoys having the lowest millage rate in DeKalb County. This low property tax rate gives all of us “more bang for our buck.”
The significance and importance of robust leadership in shaping the destiny of Brookhaven cannot be overstated. I believe that the City has benefited from exceptional leaders who have and continue to contribute to the thriving communities in which we all have been inspired to live.
So as we approach the next election of leaders for this young city, including a new mayor and two Council seats – and one unopposed – we must seek to continue our legacy of robust, strong leaders. And yes, qualifications matter. Having a leader with no political experience and no governance training to understand the workings of city governance, is like having an entrepreneur saying they want to be a cardiologist without getting the education and training.
Let’s not be bamboozled. Ask yourself, what grade would I give each candidate based on experience, qualifications, and understanding of how government works? Please perform this grading assignment before making your choice. The leaders we choose should espouse ideas with a clear plan and platform that will continue the many successes in Brookhaven – not criticisms without action plans. Brookhaven has been cited as a “model city” by many, and this did not happen by happenstance, it happened because of strong, robust leadership.
We must have leaders who not only dream big but, also have the ability to turn those dreams into action. Leaders must have a clear vision of what our city can become and be unyielding in their commitment. As a member of the City Council, I know that public office is not for the faint of heart; it’s a 24-7 job and challenges even the mightiest of public officeholders. I say that only to remind all seeking office, know what you’re signing up for; make your vision a reality.
Importantly, in 2023, our leaders must be committed to inclusivity and diversity, acknowledging that the strength of Brookhaven lies in the richness of its human tapestry. We must continue to actively work to create an environment where every resident, regardless of their background, feels valued and has equal opportunities to succeed. This commitment to diversity fosters innovation, creativity, and a sense of unity.
Promoting sound investment in infrastructure, economic development, and public services is another key characteristic of Brookhaven’s strong leaders. We recognize that the well-being of our citizens depends on top-notch infrastructure, economic development, essential services, and public amenities. Without leadership making this genuine commitment our City will not continue to flourish and prosper.
By making strategic investments in these areas, Brookhaven’s leaders cultivate an environment that makes our residents proud and where businesses can thrive, leading to job creation and economic growth. Business growth, such as AT&T, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory, to name a few, is a sign of businesses attracted to a successful city. (By the way, how do we change the name to Children’s Healthcare of Brookhaven?!?!)
The synergy between strong leaders and a strong Brookhaven is undeniable. As leaders, we set the vision, tackle challenges with resilience, foster transparency, and inclusivity, and invest wisely for the well-being of our citizens. Leadership posts are not mere positions of pomp and circumstance; they are driving forces behind the transformation and success of Brookhaven—when the right people are in those jobs.
Remember what makes Brookhaven truly great—strong leaders working together, and tirelessly to build a better future for all, without division.