DUNWOODY, Ga. — Dunwoody voters will select a new mayor Nov. 5, with three City Council seats also up for election.
While Post 6 Councilman John Heneghan will run for reelection unopposed, Post 4 Councilman Terry Nall and Post 5 Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch will be competing for mayor, leaving open races for their seats.
To help inform voters, the Dunwoody Crier asked each of the candidates:
Q1: Explain you plan to address concerns about overcrowding and inferior facilities at DeKalb County Schools in Dunwoody. Recognizing that this issue largely falls under the jurisdiction of the school district, what actions do you believe the City Council can take?
Q2: Describe your vision for Dunwoody Village and what steps you would take to enact that vision if elected. How would such a space benefit the city as a whole?
Q3: If elected, what would be your strategy for relieving traffic congestion throughout Dunwoody? How would you balance the wants and needs of drivers against those of other travelers, such as pedestrians, bikers or transit-users?
Some of the answers below have been lightly edited for space.
Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch
Q1. The facility issue is a symptom or our poorly performing school system. I have over 20 years of experience advocating for Dunwoody within DeKalb County School District. Real improvements will take coordinated pressure from leaders throughout the county. Within my first 30 days as mayor, I will pull together and unify leaders throughout the county to bring the pressure necessary to influence the changes needed to have a successful school system.
Q2. Many citizens agree we lack a gathering spot. With changes, Dunwoody Village could meet this need. My vision is for a vibrant walkable area with green space, new restaurants and unique retail options. The city will lead the efforts to make it more walkable and assist with the development of green space and a park. Our Economic Development Department will recruit businesses to the area. Having already worked with the Village landowners, I know that a public-private partnership can lead to the city center we need.
Q3. Dunwoody must use data and technology to improve traffic operations throughout the city. We must continue to expand our multi-purpose trail system, safer pedestrian crossing options and intersection improvements. As mayor, I will be committed to leading regional discussions about traffic management, transit and mitigation.
Councilman Terry Nall
Q1:Dunwoody schools and our community are integrally connected. While we continue to work toward a future independent school system and other improvement options, we must also advocate for our schools’ needs.
I’ll establish a Mayor’s Schools Advisory Committee to support communications between City Hall and each Dunwoody school so we all understand the most critical needs at each school. We’ll then work together to send a unified message to school district executives and the DeKalb Board of Education.
Q2: Dunwoody Village, our city’s traditional town center, has been dwarfed by the urban Perimeter Center. My vision is to create a more vibrant town center for us to gather as a community and enjoy an interesting mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment options.
I will ask the Dunwoody Development Authority to leverage tools, including incentives, to entice the redevelopment that our master plan and community input have prioritized, without escalating traffic congestion in the Village area — and do the same for our three other neighborhood commercial areas.
Q3: All Dunwoody traffic signals are connected by fiber optics, but only Perimeter Center signals have advanced synchronization. We should expand synchronization along our main roads to improve traffic flow, while also working with neighboring cities to do the same with their signals at the edges of Dunwoody.
City Council Post 4
Q1. I believe the City Council needs to advocate strongly for better facilities in Dunwoody. We need to collaborate with other cities to present a stronger, united voice to DeKalb County School District. At the same time, if there is an opportunity to directly help our students, we must do so. For example, I want to give priority access to school teams at the new ballfields in Brook Run.
Q2. In Dunwoody Village, I envision a community gathering place where one can sit in green space and enjoy time in their community with their family and neighbors — a place in which you can easily walk to a unique store, great restaurant or a fun bar. We need to work with the property owners to facilitate change and attract new and unique businesses. The city also needs to be ready to invest in the village if we want to achieve our vision.
Q3. In order to improve traffic flow in Dunwoody, we must fund intersection improvements. Besides intersections, we have to offer alternatives — multi-use paths and sidewalks for pedestrian friendly streets. Traffic is not going away, so we need to look at alternatives and plan for them at the same time we are improving intersections.
Q1: The city must take a more robust posture with the school district regarding the condition of their facilities. Specifically, I would start with an ordinance for the permitting of educational trailers. This will detail the installation, footings, tie down requirements, age restriction on old trailers, HVAC requirement and the maximum time a trailer can be used in the city. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel enforcing codes on the schools, other jurisdictions do this, and we can learn from their experiences.
Q2: Many of us were optimistic as the new parkway and streetscape were built years ago, but the slow progress of change in the Dunwoody Village has been frustrating. I know that through effective and thoughtful planning, we can create a vibrant village. We need to start by eliminating the overlay which is preventing the Village from reaching its full potential and holding back small business from thriving.
Q3: The perimeter currently handles 130,000 cars a day, and this number is going to increase with the new developments coming. We must build strong relationships with our county leaders and the leaders of our neighboring cities to work together to tackle the traffic and transportations challenges that lie ahead of us.
City Council Post 5
Q1: Build a coalition including central and south DeKalb stakeholders to take action; petition the State Board of Education to do their job, stop granting waivers and hold the school district accountable. Lobby the Legislature and governor to act if conditions do not improve. Form a joint working group between the city and school district comprised of staff, elected officials and parents. Meet regularly with public meetings and two-way dialogue.
Q2: Active, pedestrian-friendly, extra-wide sidewalks lined with shade trees, with open green space. Enact zoning to restrict more banks. Move the post office into a store in the center and use that land to create a public green space. Acquire the vacant lot on Mount Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody roads and turn it into a “Welcome to Dunwoody” gateway pocket park.
Q3: Fifty percent of all trips are two miles or less, 18 percent more traffic when schools are in session. Build out the Brook Run Trail network throughout our city, connecting neighborhoods to schools, shops and businesses. Create shuttle for GSU Perimeter Campus to park offsite near I-285. Each day, 130,000 workers drive to the Perimeter Business District, and 83 percent of them drive alone. Create greater incentives to carpool, or disincentives otherwise. Establish a public circulator shuttle throughout the Perimeter Business District.
Q1: When my children attended Vanderlyn, there were 24 trailers at that school. The DeKalb County School District can partially address overcrowding by redistricting or by building a new school. We need to form a consortium with other local city leaders across DeKalb to all work toward a healthy and vibrant DCSD. I support a forensic audit to provide and prioritize our needs and concerns to the incoming superintendent. We should strive to make sure that more tax dollars are directed to our classrooms and less to the main office.
Q2: I envision a vibrant community center where we can all gather to enjoy shopping, food and entertainment. It will be a pedestrian-friendly environment with additional green space. Like Roswell, Duluth and Alpharetta, Dunwoody can be a catalyst for development by investing in much-needed infrastructure such as intersection improvements, sidewalks and green spaces to create places for residents to gather and support local businesses.
Q3: Since we became a city 10 years ago, we have only improved two intersections. The improvements to those two intersections are appreciated every day, but we need to do much more. Many of our intersections would benefit from operational improvements to help alleviate congestion. The city can also invest in multimodal transportation by connecting schools, shopping areas, parks and other destinations with sidewalks, trails and bicycle infrastructure.