I sent a letter to many of my constituents two weeks ago. The idea was to solicit feedback from the people who elected me about their vision of our future downtown and their reaction to the current pace of development in Alpharetta.
Change is occurring rapidly and as a community we are facing pivotal decisions about our future so I wanted to get a better sense of where my constituents stand on those key issues. That is why I mailed the letter to 1100 Alpharetta residents asking for their responses to the following questions:
The current pace of land development and density growth in Alpharetta is:
a) Too little b) Too much c) About right
Your vision of downtown Alpharetta in the future would be more like:
a) Buckhead b) Canton Street in Roswell c) Decatur
The response to the letter has been overwhelming with more than 150 people sending comments so far. In addition to answering the two questions many people also included thoughtful comments about other issues that concern them.
The response has been encouraging and the results surprised me. While my original intent was only to solicit feedback that could guide my future decisions some constituents also copied my fellow councilmen with their responses. Other constituents even asked me to share the results with the public along with the rest of council so I decided to make the results public for anyone who is interested in what my constituents had to say.
Of the 1100 letter recipients one thousand of them were homes containing the most likely voters in the city of Alpharetta. Each of those households contains multiple voters who vote in nearly every election held. Many of those households contain three or more very active voters.
The remaining recipients were people whose opinions I respect, people who have reached out to me about issues in the past or people who serve in various volunteer capacities throughout our community. The list was created as a reflection of the diverse group of people who elected me to represent them and with whom I would want to speak if I were running for re-election today.
The results of the responses I received as of midnight 10/27/2016 are below.
Frankly, I was shocked. Based on the people I speak with at schools, churches, softball games, etc. on a regular basis I fully expected the the majority of respondents to select “B” for both questions.
But for 87% of the Alpharetta voters who responded to feel the current pace of development in our city is too much was startling. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the thoughtful, passionate, frustrated and occasionally angry comments many people included.
I was also surprised to find that responses from the list of most likely voters were almost identical to those from people I subjectively selected or who responded because a neighbor sent them the survey. Regardless of the sample group the percentage of responses for selection “B” were only reduced by 1% as a result of rounding.
As a person who ran a successful campaign against an incumbent council member five years ago by pointing out their record on growth and development I take these results very seriously. When nearly 9 out of 10 of the most active voters who hired me say that our current pace of growth and density is too much it is just too overwhelming for me to ignore. And as I cast votes on related issues in the future it will be with these results in mind.
Elected officials cannot always make decisions based on what is most popular. I know that sometimes we have to make difficult choices and ruffling feathers often comes with the territory. But I am also keenly aware that when elected officials stray too far from the vision of their electorate it will not continue indefinitely.