Sinclair Bows Out: Clears path for Walker to Marietta Council
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
August 06, 2013 12:40 AM | 4426 views | 2 2 comments | 94 94 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA VOTERS will go to the polls three months from today to elect a mayor and council, but an announcement on Monday guarantees that the council will have at least one new face next year. Three-term Ward 3 incumbent Johnny Sinclair, who was running hard for a fourth term, abruptly pulled out of the race.

“After a lot of soul searching I have made a very difficult decision to not seek re-election,” he said. “At this stage in my life I need to focus on my career in real estate with Harry Norman ... I have very much enjoyed representing Ward 3 and I hope that one day the good citizens of Marietta will return me to be their public servant.”

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SINCLAIR was being challenged by Realtor Johnny Walker, who many observers felt was headed toward an upset of Sinclair. Qualifying for Marietta’s non-partisan elections is from Aug. 26-28.

“Having someone that I know and trust running for the Ward 3 seat made it easier for me to make this decision,” Sinclair told Around Town. “I’m not leaving. I’m not getting blackmailed or anything. I just need to focus on my career. It’s going gangbusters.”

Sinclair was named Realtor of the Year last year by the Cobb Association of Realtors and the upturn in the real estate market put heightened demands on his time, he said.

“I’ve been thinking about (getting out) for about two weeks,” he said. “It was important to get out before qualifying starts. This is a time when I truly do need to focus on my career.”

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SINCLAIR was elected in 1997 and 2001, becoming the first person to represent Ward 3 for consecutive terms since the early 1980s (having been preceded by one-termers Dan Cox, Marion Rigo and Bruce Shaw). He didn’t run in 2005, then ran in 2009 against incumbent Holly Walquist.

Sinclair beat Walquist by a solid 10 percent margin — a result that surprised many observers in light of the fact that it was reported late in the campaign that Sinclair owed $70,000 in unpaid federal taxes and $700 to the state. The IRS and state had placed liens on his home. He rebutted that his personal financial problems would have no impact on his decision-making for the city.

But some of politicos contacted by Around Town on Tuesday said they suspect some Ward 3 residents still harbor animosity against Sinclair because of that issue.

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SINCLAIR’S DECISION to bow out erases what originally was expected to be a hard-fought “Johnny vs. Johnny” race that would have put many residents on the spot in terms of who to support. Both “Johnnys” have deep roots in Marietta and both were expected to pull votes and other support from among the same large circle of friends and acquaintances.

Sinclair’s departure clears the way for a Walker win, as even if another candidate were to emerge he or she would be at a distinct disadvantage this late in the game.

Dropping out, Sinclair told Around Town, “is bittersweet. I love being a city councilman. I absolutely love it. It’s the greatest job on Earth. But I plan on staying involved.”

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FROM OPERA TO OPRY and in between, 12 of Sprayberry High’s most distinguished alumni will be honored Sunday with induction as the inaugural class of the school’s “Humanities Wall of Fame.” And a distinguished class it is, including stars from stage, screen and beyond. Alumni being honored include:

• Artist Robin Bolton, who recently was commissioned to do a painting for the 25th anniversary of The Carter Center,

• International opera/musical theater star Adam Cannedy, who made his Lincoln Center debut in “Where the Wild Things Are,”

• National Speech Teacher of the Year and Debate Coach of the Year Chester Gibson of West Georgia State University,

• Best-selling novelist Roy Johansen,

• Grammy-winning opera star Jennifer Larmore, the most-recorded mezzosoprano of all time with more than 100 CDs,

• Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal trumpeter Christopher Martin, whose playing was featured on the soundtrack of the recent movie “Lincoln,”

• Boston Symphony/Boston Pops trumpeter Michael Martin,

• Tony Award-winning Broadway/TV/film actor Stephanie Michels, winner of the Fred Astaire Award in 2000 as Best Dancer on Broadway and a former Miss Georgia (1992),

• Syndicated political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, whose cartoons appear in more than 400 newspapers (including this one) and who is a two-time finalist for The Pulitzer Prize, and

• Country music star Travis Tritt, who’s had five No. 1 singles and is a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

The event will feature performances by Ms. Larmore and Cannedy and will take place at 2 p.m. in the Ralph Quarles Auditorium at Sprayberry, says retired Sprayberry English/journalism professor Wanda Patterson.

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SENDING MIXED SIGNALS: Southeast Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid has been all over the waterfront on taxes.

First, she raised eyebrows in the community and among her fellow commissioners by her surprise appointment of prominent anti-tax spokesman Lance Lamberton to the SPLOST Oversight Committee. Then she even more surprisingly voted against rolling back property taxes.

To paraphrase the catch-phrase from the old game show “What’s My Line?,” “Will the real Lisa Cupid please stand up?”

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LAMBERTON is president of the Cobb Taxpayers Association and tried to defeat several recent county Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendums and also last summer’s ultra-controversial TSPLOST, which voters roundly rejected.

The SPLOST Oversight Committee has always been made up (until now) of commission appointees who have supported such referendums and who monitor spending to ensure the projects funded are consistent with what was promised to voters. There’s nothing wrong per se with having a past SPLOST opponent on the committee, as long as he is there to play devil’s advocate and budget hawk, not just to try and undermine the SPLOST from within.

Cupid’s announcement that she planned to appoint Lamberton caught Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee off guard. Cupid, who is mid-way through her first year on the board, was apologetic to Lee and made clear that keeping open their lines of communication was important, but went ahead with the appointment, probably to keep from looking weak were she to backtrack.

ALSO RAISING EYEBROWS are the lengthy applications that Cupid is requiring those interested in being appointed by her to county posts to complete. She is the first commissioner to ever rely on such a tool, which asks appointees, among other questions, to list their race. She includes the question, she says, to ensure diversity among those appointed.

Also noteworthy has been Cupid’s foot-dragging in actually making those appointments. She took office at the beginning of January but had not made a single one of the appointments to which she is entitled by March. And her choice of Lamberton for the SPLOST Committee — one of the more important slots ones a commissioner gets to fill — did not come until June.

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IF CUPID meant the Lamberton appointment as a sign that she favors a tight rein on spending, she contradicted that impression with her July 23 vote against reducing back property taxes by 0.2 mills as part of Lee’s effort to roll the rate back to where it was before July 2011. That’s when the commission had approved a 1.5 mill, 15.7 percent increase.

Cupid, the only Democrat on the Commission, was the sole vote July 23 against reducing the tax rate. She argued the county should be looking at expanding services with the dollars in question, since the cut was so small.

Her pro-tax vote and anti-tax appointment of Lamberton had heads shaking in recent days.

“She appointed ‘Mr. Anti-Tax’ to the board, then voted against a tax cut!” groused one politico to Around Town.

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Comments
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Lance Lamberton
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August 07, 2013
I don't think Ms. Cupid's appointment of me to the SPLOST Oversight Committee and her vote on the millage rate are related or contradictory. Of course we disagree on her vote, but her reason for appointing me was to provide oversight on how SPLOST taxes are to be spent and to look out for the interests of her district. The fact that we disagree on the millage rate only goes to show that she did not appoint a "Yes Man" who agrees with her on every particular, but that she wanted an independent voice on the committee, and I will do my utmost to be that voice.
gangbusters, not
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August 07, 2013
Sinclair, a real estate agent, reportedly says he is leaving because his career, real estate, is "going gangbusters."

Replacing him will be Johnnie Walker, a real estate agent, and his career is what? Real estate, you say?

If Sinclair doesn't have time to bicker with Philip, how will Walker have time?

AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT

Could we just turn the City of Marietta over to the West Cobb real estate association and save ourselves the wasted costs of all the pretense of representative government? Just go ahead and bulldoze everything and build the 12-lane to wherever the developers want to sell right now, and then build it out further when they use up that place, then further, then further, .....
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