In District 1, Weatherford is the ‘right guy’
July 02, 2014 04:00 AM | 3235 views | 8 8 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of this year’s most hotly contested local political races has been the one for the District 1 seat representing northwest Cobb on the county commission. It marks the first time the seat has been open since 2002, having been ably represented by Helen Goreham. Voters in that fast-growing quadrant of the county have a clear choice in the July 22 Republican Primary runoff: whether to roll back the clock and elect former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne or whether to support former Acworth Councilman Bob Weatherford. The winner will face Democrat Derrick Crump in November.

Byrne spent a tumultuous decade (1992-02) as chairman, years that saw him preside over the commission with an iron fist and battle constantly with the media. Former U.S. Marine Byrne ran a tight ship as chairman in many respects, but was guilty of several grievous errors in judgment, two in particular. The first was his co-sponsorship of an anti-gay/pro-“family values” resolution that gave the county a national black eye and caused it to miss out on much of the bounty from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The other was his decision to green-light county construction of a supposedly state-of-the-art $26 million composting plant on County Services Parkway. But the plant did not work as advertised by its operator, the Bedminster Bioconversion Corp., instead spewing noxious fumes into nearby neighborhoods. After a pair of fires and its takeover by the county, it later was sold as a cost-saving measure.

Byrne resigned his chairmanship to run (unsuccessfully) for governor, then tried to run for commissioner in Polk County (where he owns a horse farm), making disparaging remarks about Cobb in the process. Polk’s Elections Board ruled he was not a legal resident of that county, after which he once again set his political ambitions on Cobb. He ran for commission chairman in 2012 against incumbent Tim Lee and very nearly beat him, although many of those voting for Byrne might have been fueled more by their animus against Lee and his support of the toxic T-SPLOST than by any particular fondness for Byrne.

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Bob Weatherford, though little known to most of the rest of Cobb, has been an important, albeit low-key, player in the transformation of downtown Acworth during the past decade or so. Weatherford spent 12 years on the city council before resigning this year to run for chairman. Those 12 years coincided with Acworth’s transformation from an aging railroad town hugging the banks of Lake Acworth to a revitalized city with a downtown lined with “destination” dining options and other attractions.

The former Marine Reservist and police officer was selected by the Cobb Chamber as its Peace Officer of the Year in 1996. He graduated from Leadership Cobb in 2005 and is a trustee of the Chattahoochee Tech Foundation. He also has compiled an impressive record of volunteerism, including 16 years with Tackle Hunger and 12 years with Shop With a Hero. The former motorcycle policeman is also an avid member of the Patriot Guard, which is made up of volunteer motorcycle riders who escort the funeral processions of our fallen servicemen and women.

Weatherford, 65, and wife, Lori, have four children and one grandchild.

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Byrne has tried to paint Weatherford as the candidate of the Cobb Chamber and as a “rubber stamp” for Chairman Lee. Weatherford makes no apologies for having been active in the chamber, nor should he; and is quick to counter the suggestion that his vote would be in Lee’s pocket.

“I’m not ashamed of being a member of the chamber. I don’t run from my friends. And tell me what I’ve ever rubber-stamped?” he asked during a recent meeting with the MDJ editorial board. “I will not be a ‘yes man.’ … I will not rubber-stamp anything. I will thoroughly investigate it and make my decision based on what’s best for west Cobb and for the county as a whole. That’s the way I work.”

At this point, it’s instructive to remember the example of JoAnn Birrell, a Lee protégé when she first ran for commission in 2010 who many suspected would be a dependable vote for Lee. To the surprise of many, she instead has been analytical and even-minded and very much her own person. Weatherford seems cut from the same cloth.

“I’m not the chamber’s guy,” he told the MDJ. “I’m nobody’s guy.”

We believe him. But we suspect that Bob Weatherford is “the right guy” for northwest Cobb and deserves your vote on July 22.

Comments
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Joseph Pond
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July 05, 2014
If Bob is Nobody's Guy, who is paying for his campaign?

He told me that he has $80 of his own money in his campaign. He said that that if 'they' wanted him to run, 'they' would have to pay for it- he said that he had 'better things to do with his time'. (Tim Lee also said similar things when he got started.) Now Bob had had a few drinks before he said that- He then got into his truck and drove home to Acworth from the Marietta Square.
From Kennesaw
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July 02, 2014
Wonderful endorsement for Weatherford.

In my community - of people who have lived here for 20 years or more - and asked who to vote for as commissioner.

The answer was always simple - A B B.

Translated to: Anybody BUT Byrne.

westcobbcit
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July 02, 2014
What a Chamber sell out - Weatherford has not taken a real position on any major issue. He has to "further study" the issue ....or what that means is he has to call the Chamber to get the correct answer.
Go BOB
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July 02, 2014
This is an OUTSTANDING endorsement. We do need to continue to move Cobb County forward and NOT go backwards. Heck Bill Byrne would FIGHT over the use of 5 napkins at a lunch meeting.

Bill Byrne is one of the leaders of the CAVE people.

C- Citizens

A- Against

V- Virtually

E- Everything.
Hmmmm......
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July 02, 2014
Imagine my surprise when I saw the ringing endorsement for Weatherford..i.e. the nice folks at the Chamber. Remind me again who is an at-large director of the Chamber and who is the General Counsel of the Chamber? I do not have an issue with either of these people, but the relationship should be disclosed when your paper is endorsing a candidate.
Not A Shocker
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July 02, 2014
The MDJ may have just motivated some of the "non-interested" voters out to the July election. Of course, they will be voting for the other guy.
Knowing Bob
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July 02, 2014
Those of us who do realize he is certainly "Nobody's guy!" Truer words could not be said about the man. He doesn't push around easily. He is an intelligent thinking man. Son-of-a-preacher man, he doesn't use profanity, either. MDJ has made the right choice!
the facts are
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July 02, 2014
While this is a glowing endorsement for Weatherford to continue Commissioner Goreham's 'legacy', that would presume that most District 1 constituents were ably represented by Helen Goreham. That simply is NOT true. This endorsement also presumes that District 1 homeowners/taxpayers are looking for substantial commercial and higher density residential development and that is NOT true. Perhaps it is time for all the constituents of District 1 to be fairly and equally represented without one area being sacrificed so that another area can be protected/preserved. That simply doesn't seem possible with Bob Weatherford as commissioner.
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