JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – All of the candidates for City Council Posts 1 and 3 were under one roof Oct. 23 as the Johns Creek High School PTSA hosted all five candidates on the slate. They all volunteered their answers to questions posed by the PTSA and the audience under moderator Russ Spencer, Fox 5 News anchor.
Post 1 candidates are:
Randall Johnson: The incumbent, he was elected after working for cityhood as a member of the Citizens for Newtown and the Committee for Johns Creek. He was nominated to and completed the Coverdell Leadership Institute in 2009. He also serves on the Milton County Legislative Advisory Committee assisting Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Rep. Lynne Riley.
He is a businessman with a master’s degree in agricultural economics and has lived in Johns Creek 15 years with his wife and family.
Dr. Leonard Zaprowski: He owns and operates his own chiropractic practice on Old Milton Parkway. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech and Life University. Zaprowski has served in the community for many years coaching youth athletics including service as children’s athletic director at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church. He served on the LSAT Committee at Creekview Elementary School and now serves on the Johns Creek Zoning Board of Appeals. He and his wife and family live in the Newtown community.
Post 3 candidates are:
Cori Davenport: She has been a community leader serving on the Medlock Bridge Elementary School and Autrey Mill Middle School PTAs as well as the Local School Advisory Committee for Medlock Bridge. She has served on her homeowners’ association board for seven of her 16 years in the community. She and her husband own a business and have four children.
Nancy Reinecke: She has been a substitute teacher and school volunteer for special school programs. She has been a community activist appearing before the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to present zoning cases before the board and participated in the North Fulton land use planning with the county. After cityhood, she participated in the development of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Transportation Plan and proposed changes to the city charter. She and her husband have lived in the Johns Creek area since 1979 raising two daughters.
Karen Richardson: She has served as an original City Councilmember since incorporation in 2006 and now serves as mayor pro tem. Prior to her election, she cut her teeth representing the community in Fulton County zoning cases. She was a member of the Windermere Park Homeowners’ Association and was an active member of the grassroots movement for the city’s incorporation. She continues to be active in the PTAs at her children’s schools. A college graduate, she works as a human resources specialist at Northside Hospital. She and her husband have lived in Johns Creek since 1998 and are raising three children.
Each candidate was asked to respond to moderator Spencer’s questions. The first one went directly to the issue of the investigation of Mayor Mike Bodker’s alleged indiscretions that asserted he was guilty of a blatant disregard of the city charter and eroded the authority of council. Each responded with his or her position on the investigation:
DAVENPORT: I think what is going on is an embarrassment to the city. A house divided will not stand. We can’t have people who indulge in petty politics running the city. It’s time for change.
REINECKE: The report does not reflect the $95,000 that has been spent and the five months of investigation. It lacks citations. It is really more of a status report. It is not clear the report proves or disproves anything. What it does show is the need for term limits. No councilmember should serve more than two terms.
RICHARDSON: I have never served any interests but the city. When I was presented with information that the mayor may have blurred the lines of his authority, I had to go forward. This was looking for the truth. This is just an interim report. We have not gotten to the bottom of this yet. It is totally the fault of the mayor’s behavior.
ZAPROWSKI: I do not approve of spending tax dollars for something that appears to be politically motivated. We have a City Council that can’t play nice together and get along with our sister cities. I am sickened personally by the timing of this report.
JOHNSON: I have said time and again we had two choices. We could sweep everything under the rug or get to the truth. Being whistleblowers is not easy. The liability to the city would be far greater. The cost is squarely at the feet of the mayor who has not cooperated by not turning over the records demanded of him.
The city manager injected himself into the campaign when he was involved in an altercation with citizens after a meeting. He has offered no apology and dismissed the affair as politically motivated by two of the mayor’s supporters. The City Council has taken no action to discipline him and appears slow to do anything. How do the candidates react to that?
JOHNSON: How you handle it is as a human resource issue. The Police Department is investigating and will be finished shortly. Certainly his actions were wrong. He should have walked away. Something will be done but I can’t say until all the information is in. He knows he made a mistake. To debate in a public forum is the wrong place.
ZAPROWSKI: I am totally disgusted with council. They should have taken immediate action. I know one of the individuals involved and I have the utmost respect for his integrity. If they would just look at their charter, they would see they have the authority to act immediately. In the corporate world, such action would result in at least an immediate suspension. This sets the city back. Our job is to take care of the citizens first and foremost.
RICHARDSON: I agree we have to respond, but not just for retribution and reacting, but for following procedures. We have a process for an employee who steps over the line. But we have to be sure we don’t cause a climate of litigation.
REINECKE: This goes to the quality of life we want for the city. In my seven years as a teacher, I never heard a teacher use profanity to a student. This attack demands a response. For the city manager to intimidate a woman, it at least requires a reprimand.
DAVENPORT: I do not agree with Councilwoman Richardson. I can’t imagine under what circumstances it is appropriate for the top man to use vile and vulgar language to taxpayers. Turning a blind eye is unacceptable. I do not understand why the man is still in office.
The challengers were asked to speak on the City Council decision they disagreed with most.
ZAPROWSKI: For me it is the issue of the Brumbelow Road traffic light. It is the 11th most dangerous intersection. The City Council allocated funding for it, then decided they could not work with Roswell and walked away from it. It is personal to me. My daughter had an accident at that intersection. She wasn’t hurt, but what about the next time? The residents had a forum on this very issue and none of these candidates chose to come. That showed a lack of concern for the citizens.
REINECKE: I have disagreed with any number of zoning decisions and the densities allowed. Brumbelow Road is another. Citizens wonder why they deserted it. I wonder why they open an investigation with no [monetary] limit and no time limit. The reasons for the investigation needed to be discussed before not after.
DAVENPORT: The mayor’s investigation operated under a cloak of secrecy. The $100,000 was spent to find out what might have happened. It could have been investigated at the time. That didn’t happen here. I’m very disappointed how this was handled. We need to remove this black eye from the city.
The incumbents were asked about the accomplishments of the city of which they were most proud.
JOHNSON: First, we established our public safety and created Chattcom to improve our response times. We experienced 12 traffic fatalities in Johns Creek in the 18 months prior to incorporation. Since that time, there have been none.
As for the Brumbelow Road light, the reason that fell apart was the mayor got involved and it became political.
We have held property taxes to the current rate. I have never been in favor of raising taxes. Nor should we with the $19 million in additional sales tax the city will receive.
RICHARDSON: I never voted for a property tax increase. The proposed false alarm fees will fall on those whose alarm systems cost the taxpayers money. It is not a simple issue – recovering the costs of rolling out to respond to false alarms rather than simply passing those costs on to the general population.