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.

 

Alpharetta’s Lack of Election Coverage

It has been nearly a month since I wrote this article about Alpharetta’s ongoing City Council election. Since that time I have seen no local newspaper coverage of the most important election the City of Alpharetta has had since 2011 when Mayor Belle Isle and I were elected.

But six years ago when we ran for office both local papers ran profiles of every candidate within two weeks and there were forums and debates. On September 7th of 2011 the Alpharetta Revue ran a profile of some unknown candidate named Jim Gilvin on September 7th of that year. You can still read that article here but only if you promise to forgive the 20 year old real estate picture accompanying it.

And as I go back and read that profile now I am surprised to see how similar the current election is to that one.

Traffic and high density development still seem to be the most critical issues. One of the current candidates promises to provide a much needed voice for the residents of Alpharetta and the commercial property owners, builders and developers are once again displaying giant signs for the other candidate.

Easterling Hodge E Andrews

Yet even though so many of the issues are still the same the local media coverage has been much different. Actually it has been nonexistent.

There hasn’t even been a newspaper article about the city council race except for the article announcing there was one. Alpharetta is halfway through its most important election in six years and there has been no profile of the candidates.

Not one local reporter has thought to ask Councilman Kennedy why he didn’t let his constituents know he wasn’t running for reelection until it was too late for other candidates to qualify. Not a single media outlet has bothered to ask candidate Ben Easterling what prompted him to qualify as a candidate for Councilman Kennedy’s seat on the first morning of qualifying when no one in the public had any idea Councilman Kennedy wasn’t running.

I know I’m just an elected official who blogs on the side but it certainly seems like those are the kinds of things local newspapers should do to inform their readers. At least they used to.

 

We’ve Come a Long Way…

It is hard to believe I first asked Alpharetta voters for the privilege of serving on their city council just four years ago. A lot has changed since then.

When I decided to run for office Alpharetta’s unemployment rate was 7.5%. Our office space vacancy rate was nearly 20% while residential property values had dropped by about 20%.

In that environment I took office and immediately began working with the mayor and council to revive Alpharetta’s local economy. We hired an Economic Development Coordinator and pursued innovative tools like the Opportunity Zone incentives which helped attract the Avalon development as well as major new employers like Fiserve and Halyard.

We aggressively sought a new technical school to maintain our skilled workforce and complement our award winning local schools. We began building a downtown Alpharetta our community could be proud of with special events and a restaurant scene to draw people from all over North Fulton.

Now four years into my service Alpharetta’s unemployment rate hovers near historic lows at 4.8%. The thousands of new jobs we attracted have reduced vacancy rates by half and for the first time in seven years new corporate campuses are being proposed to add more jobs in our thriving business ecosystem.

And during that extraordinary growth I never lost sight of how crucial it is to preserve what makes Alpharetta the best place in Georgia to raise a family and do business. I have consistently voted against hundreds of the apartments which further crowd our roadways and schools. I have devoted millions of dollars toward improving roadways and other infrastructure to accommodate growth. I promised to pursue fiscally responsible growth while rejecting tax increases and that is exactly what I have done.

So yes, we have come a long way from where we were 4 years ago… but there is a lot of work left to do. That is why I now ask the people of Alpharetta to extend to me the honor of serving them one more term on city council. With their blessing I will dedicate the next four years to continue representing this city honorably while fostering growth we can all live with. I hope I have earned your votes once again and appreciate any support you can lend in this effort.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                           Jim Gilvin                                                                                                                               Alpharetta City Council, Post 4

Thank you, Alpharetta

In case you haven’t heard, I won Tuesday’s Alpharetta City Council election by a huge margin.

We could never have won this election without the tremendous effort of dedicated volunteers and the encouragement we received from many of you. I will never lose sight of that fact as I serve you over the next four years and I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity.

And now that the challenge of a political campaign is over it is time to focus our efforts on the challenges ahead. Voters approved the new City Center project so the next four years should be exciting as we implement a plan to completely revitalize our downtown community. I will also work hard to improve Alpharetta’s traffic situation while keeping our taxes low and working to restrain high density development that will negatively impact our schools and quality of life.

There is a lot to be done and it won’t be easy. But neither was winning an election against an entrenched incumbent who enjoyed the support of the political establishment. With your help we achieved that victory Tuesday so there is no reason to think we can’t meet the new challenges ahead.

I know that as an elected representative of over 50,000 people there is no way to satisfy every person every time but I give you my word that I will always do these three things:

1)     I will always listen to your concerns.

2)     I will always keep an open mind.

3)     I will always be honest with you regarding my positions.

Regardless of the issue in question you deserve those three things from your elected representatives and you have my word that you will get them from me.

And I hope that all of you will feel comfortable calling me or emailing if you have any questions or concerns over the next four years. My cell phone number is 404 271-2716 and my personal email address is jimgilvin@bellsouth.net . Please accept this note as an open invitation to reach out to me whenever you wish.

Thank you again for this opportunity to serve you on city council. I am truly humbled by this honor and will serve you to the very best of my ability.

Sincerely,

Jim Gilvin

An open and honest debate

Last night the Alpharetta High School debate team hosted a candidate’s forum. In my remarks to the crowd I pointed out that open, honest debate is what elections are supposed to be about. I emphasized the word “supposed” because the political discourse in this city has become anything but an open and honest debate.

Almost two months ago I declared my candidacy for Alpharetta City Council post 4 because I knew my opponent’s track record and could not bear the thought of her running unopposed. At the time I knew it would be difficult to win a race against an entrenched, establishment candidate but I felt the people of Alpharetta deserved to have another option and regardless of the outcome I looked forward to an open and honest debate about the future of our city.

For the last two months I have done everything in my power to keep this campaign focused on the future of Alpharetta. Scandals and allegations have surrounded my opponent from nearly day one yet I have refused to get caught up in mudslinging. Instead I have devoted all of my time and energy to getting out my message: growth we can live with, leadership on traffic issues and low taxes.

But an open and honest debate takes two people and today’s Alpharetta Revue is a perfect example of what I have been up against.

Page 24 of the October 27, 2011 edition of the Alpharetta Revue contains a candidate profile that my opponent submitted for publication. In Mrs. Oakes’ profile she claims, “Then we must clean up some problems created before I arrived. For example, Prospect Park and Windward Mill were both voted on by council before I arrived”.

That statement is blatantly false. Mrs. Oakes did vote for the Windward Mill development which added seven condominium towers to one of the most congested intersections in Alpharetta. I know that because I was there and it is a matter of public record. But you don’t have to take my word for it, just turn to page 5 of the same paper.

On page 5 there is an article explaining how Mrs. Oakes publicly denied voting for Windward Mill during a debate. Then when the reporter confronted her with the truth, Mrs. Oakes quickly changed her story and responded, “I think it was the right thing at the right location.”

So on page twenty four Mrs. Oakes claims that she did not vote for a high density mixed use project and asks voters to re-elect her so she can clean up the mess left by her predecessor. But on page five Mrs. Oakes admits the truth and defends her vote for the project by saying it was the right thing to do.

It is simply impossible to conduct an open and honest debate with that kind of politician.

Alpharetta is at a critical crossroads of our future. These are challenging times and we can’t afford four more years of false claims with abrupt position switches.

We need leadership. For more than a decade I provided that leadership in protecting the quality of life that makes Alpharetta special. I have the track record to prove it.

So I ask you to please vote for Jim Gilvin, Alpharetta City Council Post 4.

The People of Alpharetta Deserve the Truth

On April 28, 2008 my opponent, Cheryl Oakes, voted to approve a high density mixed use project which will eventually be built at the corner of Windward Parkway and Northpoint Parkway in Alpharetta. I know this because the project called for seven high-rise condo towers to be built in my children’s school district and after months of trying to prevent its approval I was sitting in the audience when the vote was taken.

I mention this now because the Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association held a candidate forum last night and at the event I stated that my opponent for City Council Post 4 had voted to approve that project. Then something surreal happened.

My opponent stood up in front of a room full of Alpharetta voters and blatantly misstated the facts about her record.

Ms. Oakes told the people that she had not voted for the project at all. Ms. Oakes then went on to make the bizarre claim that it was actually her predecessor on council that had voted for the project before Cheryl took office in 2008.

I was stunned that a political candidate could stand up in front of a crowd and so blatantly misstate the facts.  The truth is a matter of public record.

Cheryl Oakes began her term on Alpharetta City Council on January 7, 2008 as reported here. The vote on the high density mixed use project was taken on April 28, 2008 as reported here. The public record shows that all city council members were present at the time and the vote was unanimous as you can see for yourself here.

Ms. Oakes’ predecessor was actually at the DATA forum as well and both she and a current mayoral candidate confirmed my account of the events.

There is no question that my opponent voted to add seven condominium towers to that corner of Windward Parkway. And now there is no question that she blatantly misstated the facts to the voters of Alpharetta.

I take no pleasure in pointing out what my opponent has done… but the people of Alpharetta deserve the truth.

And as a candidate for Alpharetta City Council Post 4 it is my duty to make sure they know the truth before voting on Tuesday, November 8.

The future of Alpharetta

Tonight the City of Alpharetta had planned to approve a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan that would forever change the complexion of our community. The plan was designed to serve as a blueprint for development in Alpharetta for the next twenty years and you can find the full report here on the city’s website. But late last week the city unexpectedly postponed the vote for the proposal and it will now be decided after the November election.

Why the change?

In recent years the people of Alpharetta have been busy trying to support their families in the middle of a devastating recession and very few have had the time or energy to follow the minutiae of local zoning issues. That is why I have worked so hard to help my fellow Alpharettans understand organizations like the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and the Georgia Department of Transportation have been busy working with developers and Alpharetta’s Community Development Department to devise a new blueprint for our city. A blueprint which calls for thousands and thousands of high density housing units to be added within mixed use developments all along Northpoint Parkway, Haynes Bridge Road and Highway 9.

If that blueprint is approved in its current form the future of Alpharetta will be one of more traffic, lower quality of life and endless cycles of school redistricting forced on our children. To help you see what I am talking about I have illustrated the vast acreage which would be designated for high density and mixed use residential complexes in the new plan. You can click on the image to enlarge it:

Alpharetta would never be the same.

People who support the urbanization of Alpharetta have tried to minimize the effects of this drastic change but Alpharettans need only look at what happened to Sandy Springs when this kind of development occurred there. The schools suffered, the quality of life completely changed and the traffic is worse than ever before despite the addition of four MARTA stations.

Fortunately our current election season has brought a great deal of scrutiny upon the revised land use plan and as a result none of our elected officials seem anxious to vote for the proposal before facing the voters next month. Although our current mayor and city council have unanimously supported the development plan in the past, some of them may be having second thoughts. So the city has decided to postpone the decision until after the election

But let there be no misunderstanding. My opponent fully supports the plan to urbanize Alpharetta. In her four years on city council she has already approved two enormous high density mixed use projects which are stalled by the economy. And to quote her campaign website,”Cheryl pushed a new comprehensive land use plan…”.

The choice is clear. If you want our city’s future to be more high density developments with thousands and thousands of high-rise condos or apartments… you should vote for my opponent.

On the other hand if you want a city council representative whose vision of Alpharetta is one that will always be a special place to live… you should vote for Jim Gilvin on November 8th.

It really is that simple. Thank you for your support.