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ELECTION 2013: Dunwoody City Council, District 2, Post 2
by LaTria Garnigan
October 08, 2013 05:31 PM | 1547 views | 1 1 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Heyward Wescott
Heyward Wescott
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William A.J. Mercier
William A.J. Mercier
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Jim Riticher
Jim Riticher
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With the Nov. 5 general municipal election getting closer, the Neighbor asked candidateswhy they are seeking election and what they hope to accomplish.

Below are responses from the candidates for the Dunwoody City Council District 2 Post 2 seat.

Heyward Wescott, 47

Occupation: Owner/operator of a retail sign company in midtown Atlanta

Residency: 16 years

Why did you decide to run for this post?

“I have been involved in the city from its inception. I serve as a director on the board of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and am vice president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association. I felt it was time for a change in representation for District 2 and the right time for my leadership.”

What are your top goals you would like to accomplish if elected?

“One of the reasons I moved to Dunwoody was to raise my children and send them to good schools. I support Dunwoody forming its own independent school system. The city has already funded a feasibility study that will be coming out any day now. A top-notch school system equals a great community. I will improve our parks, and will support the effort to reclaim $7 million of bond funds from the county for our park improvements. Enticing parks will be an additional attraction for people to call Dunwoody home. I will focus on its safety. Council must apply public safety to each decision. Police, intersection improvements and even parks and recreation all require a focus on safety.”

Where would you like to see the city in 10 years?

“As a city we should perpetually strive to improve local education. I will continue to explore alternatives for education advancement, including an independent school system for the city of Dunwoody.”

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William A.J. Mercier, 34

Occupation: Senior project manager, Airframe Maintenance Planning – Delta Air Lines

Residency: 1.5 years

Why did you decide to run for this post?

“A consistent theme I have observed among the other candidates, both personally and through comments of my neighbors, is a lack of real solutions, fresh ideas and acknowledgement of citizen concern. I felt the citizens of Dunwoody, and more specifically District 2, deserved a candidate that would be free-thinking, driven to seize upon opportunities in Dunwoody and motivated by realistic short and long-term goals. Dunwoody City Council has spent too much time behind closed doors through executive sessions. District 2 deserves a candidate that puts citizen input, financial responsibility and open communication in the forefront. I was not able to stand by and watch this beautiful community erode under mediocre leadership drifting from one hot button issue to the next, I want to serve my community in District 2 by providing a positive, free thinking candidate with no hidden agenda to vote for on Nov. 5.”

“What are your top goals you would like to accomplish if elected?

“We need to create a master plan for Dunwoody that ties together all of the ideas and projects that are needed for our city. We not only need a master plan that ties projects together and prioritizes them, but also puts together a fiscally sound implementation plan as well. By putting together a sound plan, we can tackle multiple issues almost simultaneously like economic diversification, community appearance and transportation and greenspace upgrades.

“Open communication is easy to say, but we need people who will proactively seek the concerns and the opinions of the citizens, who will communicate candidly and openly to foster a transparent environment. We need members on council more interested in keeping their deals and negotiating in good faith than being mentioned in the paper or trying to score political victories. Returning a civil decorum to the city of Dunwoody needs to be a priority to all city council members.

“Finally, fiscal prudence and responsibility must be a forefront issue. Just because we have the money, doesn’t mean we have to wastefully spend it. This will be addressed by a stronger master plan and a more transparent government. If the city can be good stewards of the people’s money, the possibility of lowering taxes starts to become a reality again. Government should not be in the business to try and make money, it is to provide services to the citizens that cannot be easily done by the private sector. If the spending does not get reined in soon, Dunwoody could be headed down a very dangerous path.”



Where would you like to see the city in 10 years?

“I would like to see a Dunwoody financially sound, having accomplished 50 to 66 percent of the new master plan it has adopted and be as autonomous of a city as possible. I would like to see Dunwoody as the beacon to many other communities around Georgia and the Southeast. When other cities are looking to start or reorganize, no better compliment could be paid than having other cities see Dunwoody as a role model on how to do things right.”

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Jim Riticher, 54

Occupation: Engineering and IT management consulting

Residency: 30 years

Why did you decide to run for this post?

“I started seeing a pattern of poor decision-making by the mayor and city council combined with them turning a consistent deaf ear to the “Smart People” [official city tagline] of Dunwoody. I fell in with some like-minded people and here we are.”

What are your top goals you would like to accomplish if elected?

“Keep us out of bad business deals like Project Renaissance and help the city manage through that one with minimal costs to the taxpayers. The city needs to focus on the business of government, which does not include being in the development business as a player, as we are now.

Stop wasting money on projects that become too expensive and are not Dunwoody-friendly. Examples include the Brook Run highway that tripled in cost from inception to completion and the Womack-Vermack intersection design that never considered pedestrian traffic. We need improvements that are sensible for Dunwoody, and we must improve the project process to include more citizen input on the front end to avoid wasting money on design rework.

“Refocus the city on catching up on 40 years of county neglect on paving roads and other infrastructure.

“The city’s published repaving schedule is clearly inadequate to catch up.”

Where would you like to see the city in 10 years?

“Just about everyone is in complete agreement that we’d like to see the Dunwoody schools cluster — Dunwoody High School and all feeder schools — controlled by a Dunwoody City School Board. This will take much work at the state level and Tom Taylor and Fran Millar are working on that. In the meanwhile, the city needs to work to better interoperate with DeKalb schools and to control school overcrowding by controlling zoning and overdevelopment.”
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Rob Augustine
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October 29, 2013
Mr. Riticher and the self-called sweeper candidates continue to criticize a major accomplishment of the city of Dunwoody.

They are actually criticizing the city’s well thought out efforts to eliminate the big apartment project on Chamblee Dunwoody – you know the one that we all called the “PVC Farm” from all the pipes in the ground when the economy crashed and the big apartment developer ran out of money. The city turned this around and called it Project Renaissance. Every citizen should be glad the city accomplished this.

It is totally ridiculous for these sweeper candidates to attack Project Renaissance. Not only is it idiotic to question an award-winning project that took property zoned for a bunch of apartments by the county and made it into a family owned, residential project, with a great park and other amenities that the citizens will enjoy, it is also dangerously ignorant.

During a time when we had a very negative economy with no development going on, the city of Dunwoody worked with John Wieland to get this project completed. The city created a win-win situation. A sound single-family project with a great park – all on a site that was already zoned for and was going to be a bunch of apartments.

Now, these uninvolved, never-done-anything sweepers are trying to tell us that this was a bad thing. It is offensive to me that they would criticize Project Renaissance for any reason. But even their reasons are ridiculous - Jim Riticher said, I would have had more retail. Well who wants that when you’ve got single family homeowners and a park and a commons area. There’s plenty of retail already.

Then the sweepers criticize Project Renaissance because it will connect to Brook Run. Well how is that a bad thing? I mean connecting our parks with trails is what all local communities are doing – creating walkable communities. This is something we really want to do. Yet these uninformed and dangerously ignorant sweepers criticize the city for doing very good, award winning projects like this one.

It is amazing what some will stoop to. It is amazing what the perpetually uninvolved will criticize. It is amazing how uninformed they are. One can only conclude from their lame arguments that they are on more of a political vendetta against our current city officials than on being realistic candidates.

These sweepers don’t deserve our vote at all. They should be apologizing to all of us for tearing down the city and its good reputation.

Rob Augustine

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