‘Positively Roswell’ wants softer tone in city politics

Members of the new civic group Positively Roswell will lobby for a more positive approach to solving city problems. Front row from left are Adam Braund, Doug Curling and Theo Keyserling. Rear row are Jay Litton, Joanna Benson-Spencer, Scott Long and Angela Medley. HATCHER HURD/Herald

ROSWELL, Ga. – There’s a new citizen group in Roswell that has a goal – and a lofty one – to lower the vitriol that seems to pervade Roswell politics. It is called Positively Roswell.

Businesswoman and co-founder Theo Keyserling said the group did not form to espouse any political positions or to back any particular candidates in the upcoming special election.

Instead, they are concerned that Roswell City Council meetings are becoming disturbingly divisive. They say it is having a bad effect on the city’s collective psyche and discouraging citizens from getting involved in civic life.

“We just want to see a true dialogue in the city to discuss ideas based on merit without all the name-calling. We want to lower the temperature of local politics and see if that doesn’t get more people involved,” Keyserling said.

The group sort of “coalesced” at public meetings. It does not espouse a particular position for the city to adopt.

“We are kind of all over the spectrum. We don’t really know much about where the others stand on city issues,” said Jay Litton, another cofounder. “What we found in conversations was that all we want to do is take the anger down a notch and have rational discussions about what is best for the city.”

Several of the new Positively Roswell members met at a Canton Street office to explain what they want to do. Along with Litton and Keyserling were business professionals Doug Curling, Angela Medley, Scott Long and Adam Braund.

“We’re not friends,” Keyserling said. “We come from different areas and perspectives. We just want to see Roswell take a calm approach in planning the future.”

Doug Curling said every public issue seems to turn quickly into a negative fight as much about personalities as the issues.

“So what can we do about it? We all have common interests. What we need to do is look at alternatives objectively,” Curling said.

The recent neighborhood meetings held in east Roswell the last two weeks are evidence that people are concerned about Roswell’s future and the need to have plans to move forward, they said.

“As we move forward, we want to find ways to come together to make progress instead of getting pigeonholed over small issues,” Curling said. “We should move forward as neighbors.”

They proposed the City Council take a hard look at all areas of the city, call in the experts to make recommendations about where the logjams are and suggest ways for the city to progress.

But Positively Roswell wants to be more than a counterbalance to “negativity.”

They want to push for a citywide strategy to deal with issues and then see it followed through.

“We want to raise the level of the language we use when we speak about the issues. Once we do that, we’ll never go back,” Keyserling said.

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