JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Mayor Mike Bodker has made it no secret that he plans to run for a third term as mayor, but the official kick-off came March 7 at Pampas Steakhouse where he gathered his supporters.
Bodker said the focus of this campaign will be no different than from the path he has followed since before the city’s incorporation.
“That is to make Johns Creek a sustainable, economically viable city with a great quality of life,” he said. “I recognize that Johns Creek is primarily a residential city, but that comes with some weaknesses. That means the government will be heavily dependent on those residents for its funding.”
That means working within the city’s means and not “dipping into the public’s pockets” except for the things that they approve.
With the city at 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial, Bodker said his biggest task is to narrow that gap as much as possible. Realistically, Johns Creek can’t expect to become the commercial giant that Alpharetta is, nor should it try.
But adding even a few percentage points to the commercial side would have a huge impact on the city’s revenue stream that would significantly reduce the tax burden on homeowners.
Meanwhile, Bodker says he wants to make sure of three things to manage the city’s quality of life:
1. The city is providing the services voters demand at the lowest cost possible.
2. Property values are protected.
3. Keep government out of the people’s way.
One of Bodker’s big goals is to see a city center that would be an attraction for both residents and visitors. Although he is sketchy on just what the form should be, he wants little government participation other than to make it possible through zoning for private investment to succeed.
“I believe that city center should be a destination. I don’t want something that everybody else has. I want it to be something that not only creates a place for our citizens to come together, but a destination that drives people from outside our city to come and spend dollars,” he said.
It needs to have more than just a retail component. It needs dining and entertainment as well. With 70 percent of the population consisting of parents and their children, there should be places for them to find things to do together without traveling outside the city.
When asked if the city would have to take an active role in assembling the land as Alpharetta did, Bodker said no.
“Alpharetta acquired its land for a government center. We’re not doing that. We don’t want to use the same models that have been used for years and years. Johns Creek is the ‘un-government’ of governments.
“We don’t have to follow the same path as everybody else. We can blaze our own path,” he said.
Bodker said the City Council can point with pride to the way the city has maintained services while tax revenues have declined by several million dollars. The city has found ways to make economies without stinting on services.
Those revenues are on the rise again – although still $2 million short of its high-water mark of $47 million – but any gains that the city has realized in the last two years have gone to “chip away at our infrastructure needs,” he said.
Now that the legislation to amend the city’s charter has been offered up in the General Assembly, Bodker says the first thing to do will be to put together a referendum to attack the $38 million road deficiencies that the city has identified.
“We want the city’s neighborhoods to have plenty of curb appeal. But they can’t do that if they don’t have curbs,” Bodker said.
Bodker has not had opposition in his first two elections – the first was an abbreviated two-year term to stagger council elections. He says he does not expect that to last into this election, but would not speculate on who might run against him.
He says he does not plan to run for higher office. Once his days as mayor are done, he plans to devote his time to his family and business. All of his public service from his start as a homeowner association president and member of the Johns Creek Community Association and then advocate for cityhood has been an extension of service to his community.
“I’ll know when it is time for someone else to do this job. But I shouldn’t declare myself a lame duck beforehand. But when the next crop of leaders comes up, they’ll have fresh ideas, and that is as it should be,” Bodker said.