City Council candidates discuss views for Alpharetta leadership



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Two candidates have filed to fill the Alpharetta Post 2 seat on the City Council being vacated by Mike Kennedy. The position serves as liaison to Community Development and the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

We asked the two hopefuls to provide some details of their interests in running for public office.

Ben Burnett


Age: 34

Occupation: Technology Sales

What spurred you to run for Alpharetta City Council?

I decided to run because I feel our city is at a critical juncture. We need a voice for homeowners on City Council. We’ve seen tremendous growth and change. The continued pace is putting Alpharetta in a position to become the next victim of overdevelopment and sprawl. Some recent developments have gone against our residents’ wishes and our citizen-created land use plan in 2010. I’m running to give our residents a voice when it comes to major development decisions.

Please state some of your qualifications and how they might help you serve.

I’m the only candidate in the race that has a skill set to understand quality-of-life issues and city planning. I originally served on our city’s Recreation Commission. I worked with a great team of residents and the AYSA to install shade structures at North Park. On the Planning Commission, I was able to review and vote on important rezoning cases, working with residents, developers and our city staff to find common ground. My voting record on the Planning Commission has always been putting our residents first, which is what I’ll do if elected.

Name two or three issues you believe are most pressing and how you would address them.

• Development and Planning

The most important issue to the residents I’ve met with is future growth and development. Our citizen-drafted land use plan was a guiding document to be followed for future development. Since its approval in 2011, we have seen it arbitrarily changed in favor of apartments, high-density projects and a downtown that looks less and less like a village. While we can’t change the past, we can make the right decisions going forward. If elected, I’ll keep our original commitments to the residents and make sure they have a voice in our city’s future.

• Taxes

Alpharetta’s tax revenues have increased significantly in the past several years. It’s been almost eight years since our citizens received a tax break. We can easily afford a tax cut for homeowners and maintain a responsible budget that maintains our AAA bond rating intact. We must give homeowners the next tax break.

• Traffic

As a professional in the technology industry, I know we can apply innovate solutions to help mitigation of congestion. But, in the end, it’s a capacity issue. With recently approved developments and new re-zonings on the horizon, over 100,000 cars will be added to our road system. We have over $80 million in infrastructure projects scheduled for the next five years. With the continuation of large-scale rezonings, it is likely by the time these projects are completed our residents will have received no benefit from their tax dollars. That’s why balancing growth is my main priority.

Ben H Easterling


Age: 58

Occupation: Internet of Things (IoT) Smart Cities, AT&T

What spurred you to run for Alpharetta City Council?

It’s simple, I love Alpharetta. Alpharetta has been home for over 20 years. My wife, Beth, and I raised our four children here and are deeply invested in the success of this city.

Because of my connection to Alpharetta, I’ve served on city, civic and nonprofit boards working to make Alpharetta the greatest it can be. #AlpharettaProud

Please state some of your qualifications and how they might help you serve.

I am the most qualified:

• Possessing the right skills learned first-hand by actively participating in: Alpharetta Rotary, Senior Services of North Fulton, YMCA and Leadership North Fulton.

• Having 35 years of professional experience with Fortune 500 companies proving fiscal responsibility and extensive knowledge in smart city technology.

• Holding leadership positions; 6 years as chairman for Alpharetta Recreation and Parks Commission, 9 years as president for the Gainesville College Foundation Board and 5 years as the Junior Achievement president.

My experience serving on city, civic and nonprofit boards, paired with relevant business acumen and demonstrated positive leadership validate I am the best qualified to represent you.

Name two or three issues you believe are most pressing and how you would address them?

I’m focused on the following initiatives to build upon our solid foundation:

1. Quality of life: With more than a decade of experience, I will ensure North Fulton’s building boom, specific to Alpharetta, is properly managed and that density is controlled to preserve our quality of life through:

  • Maintaining the highest homestead exemption rate in Georgia, which saves homeowners $2.4M annually, equating to a 1.3 millage rate reduction.
  • Requiring new developments to include more passive pocket parks, and I will work with our neighboring cities to expand the Big Creek Greenway.
  • Upholding the highest quality in managed economic growth while increasing the presence of the cultural arts and supporting Recreation and Parks expansion.

2.Technology: I am the most qualified candidate, as an engineer with Smart City technology experience. I will work with local tech companies to reduce city operating expenses, create efficiencies and support sustainability through implementing information and communication technology, such as:

  • Incorporating public safety technology such as; body cameras to protect our first responders.
  • Exploring the use of autonomous vehicles as shuttle services.
  • Replacing outdoor street lights with LED smart lighting.

3. Traffic: I will address our traffic challenges via implementation of innovative solutions to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow, such as:

  • Collaborating with neighboring municipalities, exploring how to minimize commuter traffic and determine regional transportation needs.
  • Installing smart parking applications, minimizing parking-related traffic bottlenecks.
  • Incorporating “smart city” technology to optimize our traffic light synchronization.

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