Yesterday afternoon the Kimball Bridge Coalition hosted the first Alpharetta candidate forum. It was a terrific event that was organized well. Big kudos are due to Kyle Caswell for moderating. He did so without bias, stayed on schedule and kept things clean.
A few things stood out in my mind. First, I thought the candidates for council positions, as a group, were far more energetic and optimistic than their mayoral counterparts. DeRito, Paine and Belle Isle all seemed subdued in their speaking. Show some excitement, guys!
DeRito was the only candidate for mayor to go on the offensive. He took Belle Isle to task on traffic light technology. It is unfortunate he did so in his closing comment which occurred after Belle Isle’s. DeRito also attacked Paine on the city’s lack of response to ticketgate. In my opinion, none of the candidates for mayor have room to be attacking each other on this issue.
And speaking of tickets… this issue came up as expected. I continue to be disappointed in the city’s response. The standard answer to this issue is 1) become more transparent and 2) blame the AJC. I’ve yet to hear anyone in city government offer anything close to an apology. Disappointing.
Nearly every candidate came out against the T-SPLOST in its current form. What Alpharetta needs is a mayor who will join the conversation. Johns Creek, Roswell and Sandy Springs are all neck deep into the regional transportation discussion. Alpharetta, at the center of north Fulton, is absent. Perhaps this is due to having a lame duck mayor?
I’m encouraged to see this offered as a topic and give credit to Caswell for asking the candidates. I hope this continues to be an issue in the campaign. Some candidates danced around the issue a bit. The voters would be better served with clear answers here. How about asking candidates how they would have voted on Peridot?
Post 1 Race
Donald Michell wasn’t going to let the issue of his Democratic voting record hang out there. He addressed it right away, claiming he was crossing over to influence the Democratic vote. I continue to have doubts about this answer. One Democratic primary he voted in was 2002. Roy Barnes and Max Cleland both ran unopposed at the top of the Democratic primary ballot in 2002. Which race was he attempting to influence? Keep in mind that while voting for Democrats he was missing the contested GOP primaries that nominated Sonny Perdue and Saxby Chambliss. Most true Republicans would not miss the chance to participate in these two primaries. Nevertheless, Alpharetta voters will have to decide if this is an important issue to them. It may not be.
On the other hand, I don’t believe Ron Carter had a good debate. He attempted to own the Westside/GA-9 highway reroute idea. In my opinion the strategy backfired on him as this idea has been around for some time. With Mitchell so involved with downtown issues, I think Carter would do better to find another issue in which to distinguish himself.
Candidates from Milton?
I saw Lance Large at the debate. I find it odd that he would take time away from meeting voters in his own city to watch Alpharetta’s proceedings.
So there you have it. Overall it was a quiet start to the campaign debate season. There are two more debates planned in the coming weeks. To those of you who were there… let me know what you thought!