Reporter’s Notes

Reporter’s Notes:

Dunwoody’s ‘Clean Sweep’ candidates

A string of multi-million-dollar projects, accusations of ethics violations and the prospect of adding government services has generated a groundswell of protest from thousands of Dunwoody residents.

In the wake of these controversies, three candidates for City Council, dubbed the “Clean Sweep Slate,” have surfaced, arguing that Dunwoody has turned a deaf ear to residents.

“The three candidates say the city, which incorporated from DeKalb County five years ago, has lost its way and is steering residents down a path of overdevelopment, higher taxes and closed government,” said Dr. Brad Goodchild, spokesman for the coalition.
The Clean Sweep candidates — two engineers, Sam Eads (Post Three) and Jim Riticher (Post Two) and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Henly Shelton (Post One) — say they want to wrest the wheel and return the young city to a course of limited spending, property rights and responsive government.

Millions of dollars for projects, including the Dunwoody Village Parkway, a trail through Brook Run Park and a roundabout, have created open-ended financial commitments that can only be described as white elephants, Dr. Goodchild said. These projects do not enjoy the support of the surrounding community, he said.

Clean Sweep candidates are calling for a dollar cap on property taxes and strict oversight on spending. Currently, the city administrator has discretionary spending authority of $50,000. Any surplus in tax revenues would be either placed into reserves or refunded to the 20,000 homeowners and condo owners in the city.
“Dunwoody is suffocating from an administration gone wild, no checks and balances, they say,” Dr. Goodchild said. “Vendettas — political food fights — are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars while city leaders have failed to meet the mandates set out at its founding: low taxes, public safety, fixing potholes and controlling overdevelopment.”

Eads, Riticher and Shelton stand opposed to projects like the Brook Run Park Trail, which more than tripled in cost from the time it was approved. They oppose the Dunwoody Village Parkway, which will choke traffic by reducing the number of travel lanes, turning the thoroughfare into a post office parking lot. And, they oppose the $1 million roundabout near three schools that would endanger pedestrian traffic.
Clean Slate candidates advocate common-sense improvements that actually make things better — not worse. They favor two practical alternatives for Dunwoody Village Parkway that would satisfy 98 percent of residents. These two plans were never even considered, as opposed to the $2.4 million project approved by the City Council. It’s not too late to change.

Dunwoody’s current course is paved with broken promises, they say. The city administration is turning into a private club for members only, losing touch with residents and their mandate.

Jim Riticher (Post Two)

Riticher, an engineering and IT management consultant, is running for the open Council 2 seat against Heyward Wescott, an unpaid chief of staff and former campaign manager for Mayor Mike Davis.

“I’m running for City Council because I don’t like what’s going on, and I think I can make a difference,” Riticher said.

One of the main problems, he said, is the city’s consistent pattern of tuning out residents while pursuing costly projects.

He pointed to the Renaissance Project as a good example.

“We ought not to be real estate developers,” he said. “There are plenty of people out there to develop real estate, and we shouldn’t be picking a favorite developer and subsidizing him to the tune of $5 to $10 million.”

Riticher spoke on a list of other issues:

— The city’s zoning rewrite: “We need to back off the stream buffer ordinance to the minimum standards set by the state, so that people can enjoy their homes and yards and maintain them without a lot of red tape and overregulation.”

— The Renaissance Project: “I’m 100 percent against this project. We’re getting a couple of very small parks that really look like amenities for a private developer. The whole thing looks like we’re giving them literally millions of dollars to build their amenities, to build their infrastructure. In a normal development project, that money would be shelled out by the developer.”

— Charter Commission: “The key aspect being considered right now is whether the citizenry should get to vote on whether the city takes over fire service from the county. There’s talk now where they might change the charter so that the council could vote on having the fire service, and the citizens would not get to vote. I’m against that because it would more than double the city’s budget obligation. That’s a big enough change that the citizens should be involved.”

— Transparency: “One good example of the lack of transparency is the Renaissance Project. Any major project like Renaissance that’s big enough to have its own page on the city web site, should have regular updates from city staff communicating what’s going on. It should have financial summaries and a list of goals, including how well the city has met them.”

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