MILTON, Ga. — Two candidates will run for the District 2/Post 2 seat on the Milton City Council in the Nov. 7 general election. Paul Moore, the city’s Planning Commission chair, and resident Judy Burds will vie for the seat currently held by Matt Kunz, who is not seeking another term.
Below is the first of the candidate Q&A’s the Milton Herald will publish ahead of the election.
Phone number: (404) 556-3074
Milton has been my home for 22 years. When Milton was created, Mayor Lockwood appointedme to the Planning Commission where I have served for 13 years. In addition to beingchairman of the Planning Commission, I am the Director of Strategic Initiatives for MidlandCommunications. I hold a BA in international relations and political science from the Universityof Wisconsin. My wife Kathy and I have three children (all Milton graduates) and fourgrandchildren.
Why are you running for Milton City Council?
I have gained a great deal of experience during my tenure on the Planning Commission. I am now ready to offer my service and commitment to the community as a council member. Our city is at a critical crossroads; unprecedented growth requires experienced leadership. Milton must be wisely governed with a keen focus on balancing growth with the principles on which Milton was founded. As a council member, I will work to further align the community’s vision with critical policy and strategy decisions that befall council. I will continue to prioritize ways to preserve Milton’s unique rural heritage which is a goal that unites our community.
Before the incorporation of Milton, I worked to protect our community under Fulton County regulations. We became a city because there was a strong desire to do things differently and better here. I have a deep understanding of Milton’s land use plans and ordinances because I was involved in customizing them to be more protective. More recently, as a member of the Planning Commission, I have contributed to the strategy and vision of the greenspace initiative and I understand the deliverables our community expects. I also serve as a current member of the Trails Master Plan which is another area that citizens prioritize and will add tremendously to our quality of life. The Tree Ordinance update has also become an area of interest and focus for me. Our tree canopy must be fiercely protected in order for Milton to retain its bucolic sense of place.
What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the city that you would address on council?
Milton is a popular place to live so we must be smart in the way our young city matures. I oppose rezoning to higher density and all schemes to circumvent our one-home-per-acre minimum. Additionally, Milton has limited commercially zoned areas, so we must attract businesses that serve our citizens, enhance our community, and contribute to our unique character. I will continue to welcome these businesses to Milton and help them achieve success. Traffic is a major issue for our citizens. I support investing in citywide traffic calming through speed reduction measures and congestion management via continued allocation of TSPLOST funds. We have a tremendous opportunity to coordinate our trails, parks and greenspace strategies so these plans converge and provide unprecedented value to our citizens. I am eager to continue my service as part of our effort to fulfill our unique vision for Milton.
Phone: (770) 331-7608
Bio/background: Raised by Iowa small business owners, Ms. Burds has lived in Milton for 12 years. She holds a BS in engineering from Iowa State University and MBA from Georgia State. After 18 years at AT&T culminating as Finance Division manager, she was a PricewaterhouseCoopers senior manager and consulting director with an international firm.
Burds is an officer of both the Friends of the Milton Library and Southern Magnolia Charities which produces the Milton Tour of Homes.
Why did you decide to run for
Milton City Council?
I decided to run for council because there have been some decisions made in the past that seemingly forgot why this city was formed. I got involved as a citizen advocate because I had concerns about zoning changes that did not uphold the rule of law which negatively impacted my friends and neighbors. Variances are supposed to only be for minor discrepancies and when hardship can be clearly demonstrated. I want to uphold and strengthen our zoning laws and help fix what the city itself has called a disconnected and disjointed process that has resulted in zoning application errors. I believe the needed reform requires an outsider’s perspective.
A primary duty of council is to hold our city staff strictly accountable and ensure good stewardship of citizens’ tax money and ensure transparency, fairness and integrity. We can take this city to new heights, but it will take courage and vision.
What qualifications would you bring to the council?
I worked several years at a civil engineering firm learning about things from subdivision development to septic design. The developers won’t be able to get one over on me. I am a business executive that has led large teams and knows the challenges of keeping both people and projects on track. I have attended a majority of council meetings for the last 18 months and spoken on a number of issues, while attending dozens of other city meetings. I am not afraid to fight for citizens’ interests. My observations in these meetings, based on my years as a senior-level consultant, indicate significant room for improvements and cost savings. It is time to openly ask developers and staff tough questions, challenge the current process, and adhere to the law. I am the candidate who can help set priorities and make the choices that will guide Milton toward an even better future.
What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the city you would address on council?
Prudent and controlled spending: I am disappointed in the “Tax and Spend” process used to set the Milton millage tax rate this year. Priorities should be set beforehand. Time should be allowed for citizen review and input before a vote is taken. Milton’s spending decisions need planning and transparency.
Rural character equals zoning adherence: Our zoning processes are inconsistent and incoherent. I was a personal witness to many citizens streaming out of a council meeting feeling that they had not been listened to; that the “fix” was in before the meeting started. The input of impacted citizens needs to carry more weight and developers must be held to their promises. We need to take a broad and long view on zoning matters, rather than consider cases in isolation. Citizens must have confidence in the integrity and rigor of our zoning processes.