Around Town: Qualifying Time — City election season officially kicks off Monday
by Lee B. Garrett, Joe Kirby and Otis Brumby III
August 23, 2013 11:50 PM | 3438 views | 2 2 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CAMPAIGN SEASON officially kicks off next week in Marietta when qualifying opens Monday for the Nov. 5 city elections. But the most controversial choice on the ballot won’t be qualifying — because it’s already locked in as a centerpiece item.

That, of course, will be the referendum asking city voters to approve a $68 million bond to underwrite a redevelopment campaign in the Franklin Road corridor. The bond is the centerpiece of Mayor Steve Tumlin’s reelection effort and has the support of many, but not all, of those running this fall. Leading the opposition is Tumlin’s only known challenger at this point, printing press operator Charles Levinson.

The city’s races are nonpartisan, meaning candidates don’t have to declare a political affiliation. But in case you’re wondering, Tumlin represented the city in the state Legislature as a Republican and Levinson is an avowed Democrat.

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HERE’S HOW the other races appear to shake out:

Ward 1: Marietta School Board member Stuart Fleming, who works for Coca-Cola Enterprises, is challenging incumbent Annette Lewis.

Ward 2: Incumbent Grif Chalfant has no known opposition at this point.

Ward 3: Three-term incumbent Johnny Sinclair unexpectedly dropped out of the race two weeks ago. Real estate agent/photographer Johnny Walker has mounted a strong effort to take the seat, and downtown property baron James Eubanks is a last-minute addition to the race.

Ward 4: Incumbent Andy Morris is being challenged by city Board of Zoning Appeals member Marshall Dye, owner of Georgia’s largest tennis court-manufacturing company.

Ward 5: No one as yet has surfaced to run against incumbent Anthony Coleman, which is somewhat of a surprise in light of the controversies that have tailed him throughout his years on council. Most recently, he chose to skip the meeting this spring at which the council voted on how to divvy up part of the proceeds from the bond. Coleman’s ward had been expected to get $1.2 million, perhaps to use for renovating the segregation-era Lemon Street School for blacks. But Coleman was a no-show, saying afterward he was under the weather. Result? No money for Ward 5.

However, Coleman is taking his re-election seriously, a fellow councilman told Around Town: “Anthony’s been working. He’s been out knocking on doors.”

He might need to knock on a lot of them — unless no one signs up to run against him.

Ward 6: Three-term incumbent Jim King is being challenged by Marietta Housing Authority board member Michelle Cooper Kelly, a manager for Anheuser-Busch. And there is speculation King might decide the time has come to call it quits.

“She’s been hitting the pavement. He hasn’t, as far as I know,” said one council intimate.

Kelly has put signs up all over that northeast-side ward, including one in a yard just across from King’s house, without much of a response, the politico added.

Ward 7: It would be the “story of the year” or perhaps even the “story of the decade” if incumbent Philip Goldstein were to decide not to run again. But there’s no chance of that, he told Around Town. He plans to qualify for what would be his ninth full term on council in the seat he has held since 1980.

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QUALIFYING takes place from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (but closed 12-1 for lunch) Monday through Wednesday at the City Hall office of City Clerk Stephanie Guy. Cost to qualify is $540 for mayor, $390 for council and $207 for school board. The mayor earns $18,000 per year and council members $13,000. School board members are paid $6,912 per year and the chair $8,160.

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IN CONTRAST to the busy slate of council races expected, the outlook is a calm one for the school board. At this point there is one announced candidate for each of the two seats that will lack incumbents.

Marietta Planning & Zoning Commission member Jason Waters is running for the Ward 2 seat being vacated by Tony Fasola. And dentist Dr. Paul Gilreath IV plans to run for the Ward 5 seat now held by Stuart Fleming, who no longer lives in the ward in the wake of the city’s redistricting.

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A FUNDRAISER to support the city’s redevelopment bond will be from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 4 at the 804 Lookingglass Lane home of Lea and David Fisher. Suggested contribution levels are $500 for host and $100 for attendee. Other sponsors include Teresa and Terry DeWitt, Lee and Heath Garrett, Kim Gresh and George Hartzog, Allison and Chris Gruehn, Jailene and Mitch Hunter, Dawn and Alex Koutouzis, Jenni and Justine O’Dell, Jamie and Ryan Patrick, Emilie and Whit Smith, Allison and Rob Schnatmeier, Mary Ansley and James Southerland, Katherine and Brad Turner, Cameron and Travis Watson and Kelly and Randy Weiner. For more call (404) 520-0879.

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COUNCIL hopeful Eubanks will be host to a coffee-and-donuts meet-and-greet from 9-11 a.m. Sept. 7 at the Marietta Station Parking, 125 Church St.

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COBB Commission Chairman Tim Lee went out of his way this week to heap compliments on County Manager David Hankerson — and take a poke at the MDJ in the process. But he whiffed when it came to finally putting to rest the questions about Hankerson’s future employment and whether he wants him to continue.

Lee took a 3:22-minute timeout at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners’ zoning hearing to take exception to a recent Around Town column about Hankerson’s status. He also complained about how it described Hankerson’s involvement in two county-related stories from several years ago: the news that an average of $521,000 per year in revenue earmarked for the county’s streetlight fund had quietly been diverted to cover other operations; and the brouhaha that arose after the costly purchase and upkeep of a pair of mules (“Jack” and “Jill)” to work the fields at county-owned Hyde Farm park. Hankerson was merely doing the commission’s bidding in both cases, complained Lee.

But the chairman devoted most of the diatribe to complaining about the Aug. 9 Around Town item that described himself and Commissioner Bob Ott as being in a “backstage standoff” over whether to renew Hankerson’s employment contract when it expires at the end of January, with neither wanting to make the first public move. The column went on to describe how the two commissioners (who seem to disagree more often than they agree) in this case are both said to favor Hankerson’s ouster, albeit for different reasons.

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LEE on Tuesday described the column as “inappropriate” and said it was “irresponsible to try and create controversy to diminish and destroy the integrity and professionalism of the county manager. I stand tall next to Mr. Hankerson and what he’s done for this county. We don’t have the problems that our neighboring counties have, because of his leadership … We should be proud of his work and commitment to the citizens of this county, over and beyond two mules.”

Around Town agrees that Hankerson stands in the foremost ranks of county managers in Georgia. In fact, this newspaper thinks so highly of Hankerson, who has been Cobb’s county manager for 20 years now, that it selected him as the Marietta Daily Journal / Cobb Citizen of the Year in 2010 and still stands by that choice.

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BUT we would remind the chairman that this controversy is one of his own making, and the commission’s — not Around Town’s. After all, they, not us, are the ones leaving Hankerson twisting in the wind.

Lee’s testimonial on the manager’s behalf was heartening — but it was more notable for what was omitted than for what was included. In other words, Lee missed a perfect opportunity to publicly put Hankerson’s contract status on the table and declare that he wants him back as county manager.

Lee’s silence on the subject was reminiscent of what happened this spring when it was learned Hankerson was a finalist for the county manager job in Fulton County. Not a public peep was heard from Lee or the other commissioners imploring him to stay here.

So it looks like the standoff will continue — as will Hankerson’s twisting in the wind. And as will, most likely, Lee’s criticism of the MDJ.

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Comments
(2)
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interested observer
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August 24, 2013
There maybe hope for you guys and gals down at the MDJ. I believe all the commissioners what "Daddy Hank" gone but none of them will admit it. I however, wish you had a journalist that can "follow the money" when it comes to Lee cronies making money on land swaps in the county. Look no further than the just completed Hidden Forest Deal. Six acres for 2 acres??? Did anybody at the MDJ check that transaction out??? By land value of that area, which all the houses in it just sold, the developer, Lee Cronie Woody Snell, made about 1.8 million in that deal.
Just Sayin'....
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August 24, 2013
Dear Tim - Your sudden stand-up and be counted attitude regarding the County Manager is worthy of an Oscar if there were a category that included side stepping politicians. I, for one, am tired of Mr. Hankerson getting all the credit for keeping Cobb relatively problem free while our friends in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett have chosen an opposite path. I find it hard to believe no one is willing to say that perhaps we just have better rank and file county employees who take the public trust, implicit in their jobs, seriously. While Mr. Hankerson could very well be one of those, he is not the sole reason we have the current situation. Indeed, much of his job has been able to run on auto-pilot because he HAD great department heads in the past. Mr. Moon was an example of this. However, those days are drawing to a close as, one by one, they all opt to retire and start a second career somewhere else. And, let us not forget those who have been asked to "retire" for one reason or another. Perhaps it is time for the Chairman and the commission members to stand up and say what they are all quietly thinking but afraid to put forth publicly....it is time for Hankerson to go.
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