Candidate Q&A – Brian Fisher, Avondale Estates City Commission
Decaturish.com contacted every candidate running for office in Decatur and Avondale Estates and provided them with a list of questions. Brian Fisher is running for election to the Avondale Estates City Commission.
Here are his responses:
1) Why are you running for this position?
When my family decided to move from Decatur to Avondale Estates, we did so because we fell in love with this community. My wife and I are both from small towns and grew up in cities where everyone knew your name. By way of our children, we were introduced to Avondale Estates close to 10 years ago through our kids’ preschool. Soon we began visiting the Avondale Swim & Tennis Club pool, attending the city’s Fourth of July parade and fireworks, trick-or-treating at Halloween, and attending numerous city festivals. We were really impressed by the people, and how much each and every person loved Avondale Estates.
When The Museum School became an option for our girls, we knew the people that were putting their time and energy behind the school, and we signed up as quickly as possible. What started out as two large modular buildings has grown into a vibrant school that serves kids from K-8 grades. I think has brought our community even closer together. In 2013, we built our home in Avondale Estates and intend on making this our “forever” home.
I believe that if you want to see your community be great, you must be willing to invest your time and be part of the process. I think that Avondale Estates is at a really important point in our city’s history. From downtown development, population density, annexation, and beginning to work on providing great public school options for all children in our community, I believe the decisions that we make over the next four years will have a significant impact on our city for the next 50. I want to be a part of that process; I want to help us decide as a community, “Where we want to be” on these important issues.
2) What makes you the most qualified candidate for the job?
I think that my background in banking and finance brings a skill set to the BOMC not currently represented on the Board. In my professional life, I’m a Senior Vice President in the Commercial Banking Group of Servis First Bank. In this position, I’m responsible for developing and managing new relationships for the bank in the Metro Atlanta Area. On a daily basis, I work with business owners and developers. I know and understand the needs of both, and I believe that I could have a positive impact and help support our local business owners, while working with community leaders as we identify and partner with potential downtown developers.
Through the years, I’ve had the privilege of serving in various positions where I’ve been able to develop leadership skills that would assist me in service as City Commissioner – from serving as captain of my college football team to being a graduate of the 2014 Leadership Gwinnett class. I am ready to help lead and welcome the opportunity to serve our community in this capacity.
3) Proposals to annex more property into the city of Avondale Estates could be revisited over the next four years. Do you support annexing more property into the city?
I support annexation for the city — and specifically the Laredo corridor – if, and only if, it makes financial sense for Avondale Estates. I supported the map approved by the BOMC last year and commend the BOMC for placing a hold on the process when the DeKalb Farmers Market was removed from the plan. I believe annexation is something that we should proactively discuss as a city regardless of what happens in other areas of DeKalb County. I think it’s important that we understand the impact of annexation on future downtown development as well as the impact it could have on our schools. Annexation will impact our city’s finances, city services, as well as the current and future population of Avondale Estates.
I also believe if we move forward with proposed annexation, we need to invite all potentially impacted residents and business owners to have a conversation about considering becoming a part of Avondale Estates. All of these are things that I think we should be doing today.
4) As a city commissioner, what will you do to support and improve educational opportunities in the city of Avondale Estates?
Every child that lives in Avondale Estates deserves access to a great public education. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find great communities that did not provide great public schools. We are extremely fortunate to have two wonderful charter school options located adjacent to our community — The Museum School of Avondale Estates and The DeKalb School of the Arts. Both are well-run, high performing schools where attendance is based on a lottery system. Most of the residents in our community are very familiar with The Museum School (www.themuseumschool.org ). I would really like to see Avondale Estates also enhance our support of the DeKalb School of the Arts. While both schools are an option for some of our children, they are not for all.
I believe that we need to embrace every option available today and in the future to improve our local schools. We need to be proactive in building a positive relationship with DeKalb County School System and Avondale Elementary School (AES). AES currently has a principal, who is open and desires a partnership with the residents of Avondale Estates in an effort to help strengthen his school. This is a very positive first step.
I also think it’s important that we make every effort to remain a part of the Druid Hills school cluster.
Finally, I believe we should continue to explore and understand what is happening on the educational front being led by the Governor as well as the GA Legislature. We need to understand the potential impact these proposed rulings could have on options available to our community and be proactive in considering them as an alternative for our children.
5) The development of the Euramex project will be a big issue facing city leaders over the next four years. Do you have any concerns about this development, and what will you do to ensure it balances the needs of the developer with the needs of residents?
It is important that development and redevelopment of Avondale Estates is done correctly. We need to work collaboratively with prospective developers, but it’s critical that we ensure that the vision laid out in our downtown master plan is followed very closely. The BOMC in partnership with the Planning and Zoning Board will need to work closely with any potential developers to make sure that the desires of the city and its residents are communicated, fair to possible developers, and most importantly consistent.
6) The downtown business district has grown over the last few years. As a commissioner, what will you do to support the continued development and growth of the downtown business district?
This is a very exciting time in the revitalization of Avondale Estates. We have an amazing history. I want to preserve and honor our rich heritage in the decisions that we make and are making regarding our future.
Since I have a commercial and small business banking background, I look at our city’s redevelopment through a financial lens. Helping our existing business leaders be successful will encourage other businesses to locate to our community. More business options is good for our city and our residents. In my experience successful cities have used the DDA as a key partner to facilitate downtown redevelopment and growth.
We need an active, engaged, and funded Downtown Development Authority. We need someone who wakes up every morning and immediately thinks, “What can we do to support existing business and grow our downtown business district?”
7) What do you think Avondale Estates should do to address the need for additional parking near the downtown business district?
Adequate parking is important and has been well-considered in the existing Avondale Estates’ downtown master plan. But we need to find a balance between attracting drive-through, destination visitors and making our city a walkable downtown district.
8) Over the last few years, concerns have arisen about the level of transparency from city officials. Do you have concerns about the transparency of Avondale’s government? If so, what would you do to make city government more transparent and accountable to residents?
Open, honest communication and transparency are crucial to building and maintaining trust. If elected, I will work closely with City officials, the BOMC, and residents of Avondale Estates to support a culture of accountability, honesty, and transparency.
9) Avondale Estates is a historic district. Do you support the current historic preservation standards, or do you think they need to be revisited?
I support the historical preservation standards for the downtown Tudor Village and surrounding historic areas. It’s also important that future development fits with the current design of our city and doesn’t look haphazardly thrown together. Avondale Estates is unique, and it’s important that our downtown district reflect the character of our city.
10) What are your feelings about the current effort to upgrade and renovate Willis Park?
The park, like our lake and pool, are areas that define our wonderful community. Much like the refurbishment of Lake Avondale did for our city, the revitalization of Willis Park will re-energize this area – and make it more usable and safer for all of our children and residents of Avondale Estates.
11) If elected, do you promise to behave in an ethical and transparent manner?
If elected, I promise to behave in an ethical and transparent manner as Commissioner for the City of Avondale Estates.
The election is Nov. 3 and early voting begins on Oct. 12.