The final week of the year saw another shocker — the unexpected announcement by Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham that she would not run again when her current term, her third, expires at the end of this year.
She made her intentions known via a letter to the editor of the MDJ.
“I believe that most of the folks who placed me in office are pleased with the value system that I’ve established,” she wrote. “With that being said, new challenges loom for District 1 and it will be an opportune time to bring in a new face with a new perspective. I have decided to retire at the end of my term in 2014 and pass the baton.”
A handful of hopefuls were quick to announce their candidacies for her seat. But she will be a tough act to follow.
Goreham came to prominence in 2002 as a member of Homeowners Opposed to Powerline Encroachment for Cobb County, fighting the Georgia Transmission Corp.’s plans to erect high-voltage power lines through west Cobb. She handily defeated a better-known candidate for her seat on the commission and four years later pulled off the remarkable feat of defeating five challengers (all men and several of them noteworthy candidates in their own right) in the Republican Primary without a runoff.
Goreham combines a keen intellect and probing style to arrive at her stances on issues. She is not easily rattled, whether in a town hall setting or on the commission dais. Unlike some commissioners we’ve seen here and elsewhere, who are willing to greenlight just about any kind of development in the name of “growth,” Goreham has always taken a much more measured approach.
“When folks in west Cobb elected me 11 years ago, my sights were focused on protecting our neighborhoods and complying with the county’s land-use plan. These goals have not changed and although the reduction in development did relieve the pressure, I can now feel it making a steady comeback,” she wrote in her letter to the editor. “We must continue to manage growth with great care, concentrating commercial development in the designated nodes and assuring residential expansion occurs in harmony with existing neighborhoods. After all, our neighborhoods are the signature assets of west Cobb.”
Goreham was not expected to have an easy time of it if she chose to run again. She had angered some with her support for a property tax hike in 2011 and angered others with her vote last fall in favor of using county tax dollars to facilitate the Braves’ move here.
But no one who has watched Helen Goreham during her career would ever count her out prematurely.
Although we have not agreed with Goreham on every issue, and do not expect to in the New Year either, she has been a dynamic force on behalf of Cobb and her district. And when the curtain finally falls on her career a year hence, there is no doubt she will be deeply missed.