A Full Room

Residents listen to each city council candidate at the forum. 

Government transparency has become a major topic among city council candidates this election season. 

City council candidates discussed how to ensure transparency and diversity in Roswell at a candidate forum Thursday. 

Both post 1 candidates reflected concerns that residents have brought up at city council meetings, including the allegation that council members have made decisions prior to meetings.

Post 1 incumbent Marcelo Zapata called for council members to not have conversations behind closed doors, and reminded candidates to not take city business personally. 

"People need to vote for candidates they can trust, not for special interests," Zapata said. "Vote for candidates who haven't broken promises and have never turned their backs on voters."

Council post 1 candidate Don Horton urged candidates and residents that council members must work together, and remember that their vision extends beyond the election, even 20 years from now. 

"We have to be willing to listen to people, to find common ground," Don Horton said. "We can't find resolution without common ground." 

Both Horton and Zapata stressed the importance of diversity. Horton mentioned that diverse groups have a gift and can provide ideas homogeneous groups could not, especially on city council. Zapata recounted his time in school in Milan, Italy, where he worked with people from different cultures, backgrounds and languages. 

"Diversity and tolerance go hand in hand," Zapata said. "We have to recognize our individuality."

Post 2 incumbent Mike Palermo and post 2 candidate Geoff Smith addressed the residents' roles in the city. Palermo called the residents his boss, and Smith said he plans to bring servant style leadership to the council. 

"Residents deserve to have a strong voice," Palermo said. "You can all make a difference. You all have a voice.”

The two candidates also brought up traffic and the Holcomb Bridge Corridor and the need to make sure the corridor feels more like Roswell. 

"I'm passionate about fixing the Holcomb Bridge corridor," Smith said. “We need to make it look and feel more like Roswell.”

With more than 70,000 vehicles per day and as Roswell’s only access to Ga. 400, the Holcomb Bridge Road/400 interchange is the city's largest transportation challenge, according to Roswell's transportation department. 

“We always have to agree that we’re fighting for a better Roswell,” Smith said. “We all have to understand that.”

Post 3 candidates Kay Howell, Keith Goeke and Christine Hall all stressed transparency and community. 

"I believe we have a transparency and community involvement issue,” Howell said. “We need a larger avenue for discussion.”

Goeke called for bringing back meeting transcriptions and keeping meetings open, honest and hearing what residents have to say. 

"Knowledge and wisdom are gained not by talking, but by listening," Goeke stressed. 

Post 3 candidates also spoke about diversity issues. Hall spoke about her parents' experience immigrating to America and how she plans to use that as a city council member. 

"We want to exchange ideas," Hall said. "To be able to do that, you have to place yourself in other people's shoes."

Post 3 candidate Lisa Holland was unable to attend to forum due to prior commitments, so her son, Dawson Holland, read his mother’s speech in her absence. Holland spoke about improving transportation and relationships throughout the city.

The last day for citizens to register and be eligible to vote in the 2019 general election is Oct. 7. Early voting begins Oct. 15, with Election Day falling on Nov. 5. 

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