Dear Decaturish – 3 responses to the Avondale Candidate Forum
We accept letters to the editor. All letters must be signed and are typically 400 to 800 words in length. Paul Brown, one of five candidates running for Mayor of Avondale Estates, asked to submit a letter to the editor as a follow up to a recent candidates forum. In the interest of fairness, we have invited the other four candidates to submit letters further elaborating on their positions.
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This past Thursday night, it was heartening that roughly 200 Avondale Estates residents braved the cold to hear from the candidates for Mayor. During the forum, we heard from a number of citizens and attempted to answer their questions.
I wanted to review three things I heard citizens mention and how I’d propose to work toward solving them.
Several people mentioned different aspects of what I would say is the larger issue of mobility, if we take the term to encompass moving people in and out of Avondale Estates, and giving them convenient way to get from place to place. Nobody mentioned “mobility” specifically, but several mentioned aspects of it.
One business owner mentioned that parking is one of the major impediments to doing business in the downtown area of Avondale Estates. Another said, “We don’t want to become like Decatur,” specifically mentioning the traffic and parking situation there.
Questions about planned development and potential new development if the annexation goes through also came back to parking.
A member of the community mentioned bike racks and bike paths as part of what they’d like to see as part of our community. Development at MARTA stations outside the city will also impact both parking and traffic in the city.
To address these issues, I believe we should develop and implement a “Mobility Master Plan,” as these issues are intertwined and will become increasingly important in our city. There’s no single quick fix, but by making sure that parking, traffic, and getting from place to place are part and parcel of the city’s vision going forward, we can make the solution part of everything we do planning-wise.
I strongly believe that future commercial and high-density residential development should not be allowed to negatively impact our existing traffic and parking, and that ensuring that such new development does not add to the problem, and, if possible, helps provide a solution, should be a requirement of all new development.
Another community member mentioned the impact a high-density residential development outside Avondale Estates but adjacent to her home will have, and her feeling that she has no input into affecting the County’s plans.
Working with our neighboring governments, both DeKalb County and other municipalities will help our residents ensure that actions taken outside our borders still consider the effects they will have in Avondale Estates.
If I am elected Mayor, I will make a practice of asking representatives of DeKalb County, DeKalb County Public Schools, MARTA, and neighboring cities to attend periodic public meetings in which Avondale Estates residents can hear from other elected officials who have an impact on our homes, our neighborhoods, schools, and businesses, and so those elected officials understand that their actions have consequences for their neighbors.
Finally, a member of the audience remarked how we can so quickly hear about some neighborhood goings-on, lost cats, found dogs, and other minor issues, while we were kept in the dark about the proposed annexation. There are two parts of this I’d like to address.
First, I pledge that no major actions would be taken by me, if I am elected as Mayor, without sufficient notice to the public and opportunity for public input. Nothing the city does should be hidden.
Second, I would also pledge to look at what other governments, like neighboring municipalities are doing in terms of disseminating public information. If we need to do a better job of communicating what the city does, we will study best practices and implement new ways of communicating with fellow residents. If more of our fellow homeowners and business owners would like to learn about city activities through email, the city website, or even social media, we should strive to reach them in the way that is most convenient for them. Additionally, we should consider ways to make it more efficient for residents to report issues like potholes or overgrown areas, and give their input into issues. Not everyone can come to public meetings held during normal business hours or at night, and we should accommodate as many of our residents as we can.
Thursday night was a nice opportunity for all of us candidates to talk to the voters, and I want to thank everyone who came out, and especially the folks at the city who helped put it on.
But, for me, even more valuable was the opportunity to hear your concerns. If you have other issues you’d like to tell me about, or questions about my campaign, please feel free to contact me by phone, at 404-822-0595, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Paul Brown
About the election
Advance voting will be held at the DeKalb County Elections Division at 4380 Memorial Drive. The mayoral election is March 17. Voting will take place at two locations:
Avondale Estates City Hall, 21 North Avondale Plaza, from 7 am to 7 pm.
For the newly annexed area of Stratford Green Townhomes (ONLY), voting will take place at Avondale Pattillo United Methodist Church, 3260 Covington Highway, Decatur, Georgia 30032 from 7 am to 7 pm.
Correction: An earlier version of this post contained incorrect information about the start of early voting. This post has been updated with the correct information.