In my heart of hearts, I want Alpharetta to be unequivocally home for the families that live here. But, it won’t happen by accident.
I saw a video online recently. It involved a painter making seemingly random strokes on a canvas.
As I watched, I wondered if it was some sort of modern art. It was not pretty, and there was no recognizable pattern; just broad and seemingly pointless strokes. To make things worse, it appeared he was being timed. As the seconds ticked down to 0:00, I still couldn’t make anything of it. Then, he picked up the canvas and turned it upside down.
Suddenly, what looked like a mess of a ruined canvas became a very good portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. The strokes had been precise and intentional all along.
In this moment, Alpharetta’s downtown looks a lot like that upside down canvas. There are silt fences, heavy equipment, scaffolding, cranes, and mud stretching from Westside Parkway to Milton Avenue. It’s hard to see the families or the couples walking their dog, or the mother meeting friends to explore Alpharetta, or the new trail system connecting us to all the things of Alpharetta.
Over the last six years, I have repeatedly shared a vision for the city that rests on the very core of what I believe could and should be for Alpharetta: To make Alpharetta Georgia’s hometown and the number one technology city of the Southeast.
The problem is that 30 years ago, Alpharetta had a population of just 3,000 residents.
Today, we have over 65,000 residents. This means nearly all of us, including me, grew up somewhere else. But, jobs, opportunity, families, and good schools came. As a result, we have become an incredible city, but a city of first generation residents.
To make connection even harder, we are surrounded by other cities on every border. How can we make this home? How can we give rise to a generation of mothers and fathers who grew up in Alpharetta and deeply wish to raise their children in Alpharetta?
I believe that is exactly what must take place if we are to reach our potential as a people.
We connect and make a home by sharing an identity, common experiences, and a history. This is what is in the works. Downtown, the loop, Thompson Street, our churches, and even Avalon are the places we share and the places we do life together. The goal is to make Alpharetta so irresistible that even those who did not grow up here call it home. On this idea rests every agenda I have ever championed as mayor. And, to my great joy, citizens, councilmen, staff, businesses and community leaders have striven to make that vision a reality.
One of my favorite moments this year was the Christmas Tree Lighting downtown, which was also a fun SEC Championship watch party. If you missed it, the weather was perfect. Families strolled around Milton Avenue. Local groups performed on stage. Food trucks surrounded chairs, which were set out in front of a large screen showing the game.
People sat in groups of eight and ten; neighbors, friends, church members. It was awesome. The great news is this: things like this happen in Alpharetta now all the time. I can’t wait till it’s all done and we can flip the canvas!
It has been my pleasure to serve you as mayor, thank you for the honor of my life.