Alpharetta City Councilman Jim Gilvin Announces Campaign for Mayor

Serving the people of this community for the last six years on Alpharetta City Council has been the greatest honor of my life. And now that Mayor Belle Isle is running to be Georgia’s next Secretary of State I have decided to run for the office of mayor.

The coming new year will bring a timely opportunity for the people of Alpharetta to decide where they want to go from here. I look forward to participating in that discussion.

I will continue to serve our residents in my current capacity until the office of mayor has been vacated but there has been a great deal of speculation about potential candidates to replace Mayor Belle Isle so I wanted to be transparent about my  intentions. Below is today’s press release announcing my campaign.

Thank you for your support.

Gilvin Logo

 

Alpharetta Councilman Jim Gilvin Announces Campaign for Mayor

 

ALPHARETTA, GA, December 28, 2017

Alpharetta City Councilman Jim Gilvin announced his campaign for mayor today. Alpharetta’s current mayor, David Belle Isle, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination to be Georgia’s next Secretary of State last spring.

“I appreciate the dedication and energy Mayor Belle Isle brought to his time as mayor. Our city has come a long way and Alpharetta is a much different place because of his leadership. And as the people of Alpharetta begin looking to the future it’s important for them know there is a candidate with a proven record of public service who will deliver on their priorities for the years ahead.” Gilvin said.

When elected to council in 2011 Gilvin originally ran on a theme of “Growth We Can Live With” and he believes voters appreciate his consistent record on balanced growth even when it was unpopular with other members of council. “I voted to preserve the green space and trees in front of city hall where high density apartment buildings are being built now and took a lot of heat from other council members for that. But I promised the people of Alpharetta a village style city center and honoring that promise was more important to me than being popular with politicians and developers.”

“At this critical point in Alpharetta’s history our residents have an opportunity to set the course for our future. I have a plan to restore balanced growth and preserve the qualities that make Alpharetta the best place in Georgia to raise a family and do business. My plan reflects three priorities I always hear from constituents- do a better job of balancing growth, provide real solutions for traffic congestion and invest in areas outside of downtown.” Gilvin said.

The top priority for Jim Gilvin will be to ensure city policies reflect balanced growth outlined in Alpharetta’s comprehensive plan. He cites zoning decisions that ignored limits on apartments as a prime example. “When I was elected the comp plan had a clear goal established for the ratio of single family homes and apartments. But the ratio has consistently been ignored and we have seen thousands of apartments approved. I have been a vocal advocate for single family homes over apartments and it is time we honor the goal we set.”

When discussing how he plans to reduce traffic Gilvin says that it is important to have a mayor willing to prioritize resources for traffic relief and who understands how poor zoning decisions make congestion worse. “Zoning variances and taxpayer subsidies have been granted for enormous projects downtown without any consideration of their impact on traffic. Every property owner has a right to develop their property within limits outlined in the comprehensive plan. I never want to interfere with that. But many residents are frustrated by city support for variances and government subsidies that make traffic worse.”

Gilvin also says he is optimistic about road capacity improvements and transit proposals designed to relieve traffic as part of the North Fulton Comprehensive Transportation Plan. “For the first time since I started talking about traffic and transit a decade ago I am actually hopeful we may be able to set priorities based on data about costs, efficiency and the impact on traffic rather than just political agendas. But if we continue to approve height, parking and density variances on already congested corridors our residents are never going to see an improvement.”

Another priority for Gilvin is to invest in the renewal of the Northpoint Parkway corridor and Alpharetta’s residential areas. “Over the past few years our mayor and council have spent a tremendous amount of money reviving downtown and we have achieved excellent results. It is time for us to bring that same focus to renewing the Northpoint corridor while increasing our support for residential areas. The city is already working with Northpoint property owners to update the corridor and we need to be as committed to that revival as we have been for downtown. We also need to ensure the parks and infrastructure which support Alpharetta’s residential neighborhoods are brought up to the high standard our residents should be able to expect. Building twenty-six acres of passive parks in residential areas, expanding the Greenway trail system and providing community centers on both sides of GA 400 will improve the quality of life and property values for everyone.”

Gilvin is enthusiastic about the years ahead. “Alpharetta is a special place and our future is bright. The delicate balance of great schools in a beautiful setting with a thriving business environment will continue to draw families from all over the world as long as we preserve that special character. For the last six years I have consistently sought that balance for the people of Alpharetta and now look forward to continuing that service as mayor.”

Jim Gilvin has lived in Alpharetta since the late 1990’s along with his wife, Mary Anne, and their two children Justin and Sarah. The Gilvins live in the Windward subdivision and attend Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church. Jim Gilvin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Georgia Southern University and is a small technology business owner.

 

Community Conversation: Growth & Development in Alpharetta

In an effort to make herself more available to the public and solicit feedback from the people she serves, Alpharetta’s Community Development Director will begin hosting informal monthly meetings for the public. Beginning December 13th, Kathi Cook will host a meeting on the second Wednesday of every month to talk about developments and their impact on the future of our city.

community-conversation---growth-and-development

This is a terrific idea and I applaud Ms. Cook for her initiative. These meetings will provide a unique opportunity for those of you who care about your community to hear what’s going on from the person who knows it best. And do it in a friendly, informal setting.

But Ms. Cook’s outreach can only succeed with your help. Please support her effort by helping to spread the word and by showing up at City Hall on December 13th at 6:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

Politics and the Keeper of the Seal

Yesterday I logged into Facebook and was floored by a paid political ad I found in my timeline. Below is a screenshot of what I saw.

DBI and the city seal endorsement

My Facebook timeline contained a paid video from city council candidate Ben Easterling that was shot in the city council chambers of Alpharetta City Hall. Not only was the video shot in city hall but it included Mayor Belle Isle endorsing Mr. Easterling while standing below Alpharetta’s official City Seal in front of a placard with my name on it while liberally using the royal “we” in a speech about supporting his chosen candidate. I was appalled.

While I am proud of much that our mayor and council have accomplished I am offended that he chose to use the city council chambers and the dais with all seven of our names on it to further his personal political agenda. The mayor has every right to endorse anyone he wants but for him to do it in the people’s chamber, under the official seal of the city and with my name behind him is unseemly. And I don’t appreciate it.

Since Mr. Easterling paid to put his ad on my timeline I shared a comment on the video that it didn’t seem ethical for the Mayor to film a personal political endorsement under the seal of the City of Alpharetta in our City Council Chambers. Unfortunately Mr. Easterling chose to remove my comment from the page rather than replace the offensive video with one filmed in a different location.

So under the circumstances let me make it quite clear that in no way do I support or endorse Mr. Easterling in his race for Alpharetta City Council.

And let me make it quite clear that as a person who conducts the people’s business on that dais under their official seal, I in no way condone using that setting as a prop for a political ad nor do I appreciate the implication that “we” all support the mayor’s handpicked candidate.

And let me make it quite clear that a Secretary of State candidate whose website claims “the role of Keeper of the Seal” is “ideally suited to a mayor’s heart” should probably exercise better judgement about using those seals in political ads.

DBI Keeper of the Seal

 

 

 

Letter from Alpharetta Residents

Before I decided to run for Alpharetta City Council I was one of those peculiar people who would closely follow decisions of our local elected officials. I would go to city council meetings. I would speak up at public hearings and write about what I witnessed on this blog.

And coming from that perspective I found one exchange during last week’s Alpharetta City Council candidate forum particularly enlightening. At the Alpharetta Business Association forum a question about the current pace and scale of development in Alpharetta was posed to both candidates.

Answering first, Mr. Easterling said he supported the current pace of growth in Alpharetta and that if there were any residents unhappy with what is going on then it is their responsibility to show up for public meetings and speak up. Mr. Burnett’s response to the same question was that in his time on the Alpharetta Planning Commission he had seen hundreds of residents show up to speak out about zoning issues only to have their views ignored so he was running to give them a voice.

I was reminded of the candidates’ very different perspectives yesterday when I received an email from two Alpharetta residents who consider themselves some of the ignored residents Ben Burnett spoke about. They are just a typical couple who care about their community and feel their views are not reflected by many recent decisions of their mayor and city council.

Neither of them have ever run for office. They don’t depend on developers to keep a roof over their heads or fund their political campaigns. They have nothing to gain by speaking out about a city council race other than the satisfaction of making their voices heard when it counts.

So I decided to post their letter here:

Why We’re Voting for BURNETT for Alpharetta City Council

We met Ben Burnett through his service on the Planning Commission, and we think he’ll be a great addition to our City Council as a true voice for homeowners (rather than developers). With the phenomenal level of new (and large, and dense) developments recently approved, he sees the need for a more balanced approach to growth, and he wants to make future decisions to guide Alpharetta in the right direction while keeping in mind the best interests of residents.

While you may not see many signs on public rights-of-way (or in developers, contractors, and other businesses yards) for Burnett, you’ll see them in residents’ yards, as his message is resonating loud and clear with Alpharetta residents. The vast majority of residents feel the current growth is too much, too fast.

While recent newspaper articles tout there’s room to grow in Alpharetta and state that all this development meets the goals of the comprehensive land use plan, these articles have quoted developers and nearby businesses as to their support of all the recent rezoning and high density development. The comprehensive land use plan provides suggestions and guidelines.

From what we’ve heard from residents, it’s not that they’re anti-growth, it’s that the amount of development is getting out of control, and the city is approving one application after the other without first knowing the repercussions from the current rezonings that are still under construction and the additional approved ones that haven’t even been started yet.

In addition to Burnett’s emphasis on a more balanced approach to growth, we appreciate his emphasis and outlook on property tax breaks for residents and addressing much-needed transportation solutions. We need Burnett to provide a fresh voice on the Alpharetta City Council!

Edward and Christine Kujawski

 

Early Voting Started for the Alpharetta City Council Election

Early voting for the Alpharetta City Council election to be held on November 7th, 2017 began October 16th. The most convenient early voting locations for Alpharetta residents will be your nearest library during the days and times indicated below.

This is a critical election for the future of Alpharetta. Please make the time to vote!

The only voices that really count in an election are the ones heard at the ballot box.

November 7 2017 early voting map

Alpharetta’s Glass Recycling Decision

 

A few weeks ago our Mayor and City Council instituted a new glass recycling program for every residential trash customer in the city of Alpharetta. As is often the case I was the lone dissenting voice in making the change.

Shortly after the decision my mother asked me why I had voted against the new program. After explaining my vote to her I realized that many of my constituents probably wondered why I had voted against it too.

So I wrote a blog article explaining my thought process. However I decided not to publish the article at the time because I figured it would just annoy my fellow council members and there was nothing to be gained by rehashing the topic.

Then last week Alpharetta residents began receiving their new trash bills. As a result I started getting numerous complaints from residents who are now being forced to pay for a service they did not want.

As a member of city council the public is now rightfully holding me accountable for a policy I did not support. So I decided to publicly explain why I did not support the change now.

The recycling discussion began last year when Alpharetta’s trash disposal company could no longer continue collecting glass under the existing conditions. Our mayor and council were told glass recycling had not been economically viable for some time.

We were also told that the recycling centers could no longer afford to sort through all of the material to remove glass from the other material. Therefore the City of Alpharetta needed to decide how we wanted to collect recyclables in the future. After discussions with the city’s waste disposal vendor the three options below were identified.

Option A: Residents Put Glass In The Trash

Under this option, you would simply place glass products into your trash rather than into your recycling container.  The option does not require any additional containers, provides the same level of convenience for residents as you have today, and comes at no additional cost to residents.
Option B: Residents Drop Glass Off At A Collection Center

Under this option, you would have to hold or store glass recyclables at your home.  Periodically, you would load them into your car, drive to a collection center that would be established at our Public Works Department located on Hembree Road, and unload the glass into the collection container.  Glass could not be placed into plastic bags or mixed with any other recyclable or waste product.  While the option comes at no additional cost to residents, it is less convenient than the curbside service you have today and requires you to temporarily store the glass at your home.
Option C: Continue Curbside Glass Recycling At Additional Cost

Under this option, you would be provided an additional 18 gallon plastic bin into which you would place any recyclable glass products.  On your normally scheduled collection day, you would place the bin at the curb along with your other trash and recyclables.  This option provides the convenience of curbside collection, but requires a third waste bin and a $3 per month increase in your waste service bill.  Additionally, it would require Republic to add another collection truck to the three already servicing each route, so there would be more heavy trucks in our neighborhoods.

So with those available options our mayor and council decided to seek public input before making a decision. In February of this year the city began soliciting feedback from residents to help inform our decision. The three possible options were presented to the public.

In March the city began a survey of residential trash service customers distributed in their bills and collected online. The City received 2,096 responses to the survey which represented approximately 13% of current customers. The results are below.

Recycling bar chartRecycling poll responses

As you can see Option A was the most popular option. Nearly 40% of the city’s customers who responded said that they would prefer to put their glass in the trash at no additional cost. That option would have effectively maintained the status quo. Glass would continue going into landfills with no additional bins, trucks, fees or inconvenience.

Option C had the second most supporters. About 37% of respondents preferred the option of having a separate bin for their glass which would be picked up by an additional truck at their curbside for an extra cost of $3 per month.

Option B had the fewest supporters at about 24% of respondents who preferred the option of a voluntary recycling program.  Under that proposal each resident would be responsible for collecting their own glass and taking it to collection centers.

Once the survey was completed the city staff presented the results to mayor and council in a public meeting. During that discussion it was clear that a majority of our council preferred Option C which was the second most popular choice among the opinions we received. It was also the only option that required all 16,000 of our customers to shoulder the additional financial burden for a new recycling program regardless of whether they wanted it or not.

During the meeting I pointed out that according to the survey 63% of our customers surveyed did not want the service they would be forced to pay for under Option C. I also explained that while I was sympathetic to recycling glass in an effort to keep it out of landfills, Option B would allow the 69% of people who wanted to recycle glass to do so at no additional charge without forcing thousands of households to pay for something they did not want.

It was my position that we should further investigate Option B which would avoid having to impose an extra $3 per month fee on all 16,000 of our customers. Most of whom don’t use much glass, didn’t want extra collection bins, didn’t want extra garbage trucks on the road or weren’t going to recycle glass anyway.

My suggestion to consider an option that seemed to provide the most flexibility and the least cost to all of our 16,000 customers found no support from the rest of council. So staff was directed to work out the details of implementing a plan that had received support from only 37% of our customers surveyed.

Several weeks later staff brought a proposal for weekly curbside glass recycling to us for a final decision. In the motion proposed I had to decide whether I supported imposing the most expensive, most intrusive and least efficient option available on all 16,000 of our customers at an additional cost to them of more than a half million dollars a year.

I voted no. The decision passed 6-1.

Was I right? Was I wrong? Who knows?

But I am satisfied I represented my constituents well. And after explaining why I voted the way I did to my Mom, she was satisfied too.

That’s good enough for me.