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Lilburn council, mayoral hopefuls see revitalization potential

LILBURN - They decided to run for different reasons, but there's one thing these mayoral candidates can agree on: Lilburn can be revitalized.

Continuing the development of Lilburn's Town Center and making improvements along the U.S. Highway 29 corridor are among the many things Diana Preston said she hopes to accomplish if she's elected.

Her opponent, W. Kenneth "Ken" Swaim, said he wants to see more businesses come into Lilburn, which he said he wants to make "a much more livable, workable live, work and play community."

Preston and Swaim have both served on the City Council - Preston for 17 continuous years and Swaim for four.

Although both decided to run because Mayor Jack Bolton decided not to seek re-election, Preston said she is seeking the position because she wants to provide leadership to help the council continue its work on several ongoing projects. Swaim said he decided to run because he didn't like what he saw happening on the council.

Swaim said he differs from his opponent in two major ways. He said he's against eminent domain and he's for karaoke and trivia in restaurants, as long as business owners understand they are responsible for any criminal activities that happen.

As for revitalization, Swaim said, "We've been trying to do that for 15 years. I honestly believe we can get it done. ... I have a lot of business experience, and I know the difference between my money and someone else's money."

With her years of experience, Preston said she believes she's the best qualified person for the job. She said what sets her apart is "my years of service as well as my record for getting things done."

Preston said she also has a respect for the history of the city.

"I have a good picture of what Lilburn is, was and could be," she said.

Two candidates are running for the council's Post 4 seat.

Helen Bryson, a political newcomer who has lived in or near Lilburn most of her life, said she decided to run because she feels the City Council has become complacent and condescending in its attitude toward residents.

"If you do not do something about what you complain about, you're part of the problem," she said.

Bryson said she doesn't want to prioritize what she hopes to accomplish until she has a chance to study all of the issues. She said she also has some questions about the redevelopment referendum that will appear on the ballot, saying it seems like a good idea, but she has questions about how it would be implemented.

As for what makes her qualified, Bryson said her strengths are her tenacity, loyalty and ability to listen.

Tim Dunn, who has served on the Planning Commission, said he was encouraged by some people in the city to seek the seat. This is the first time he's campaigned in an election.

Redevelopment is important to the city, he said, and decisions need to be made to bring business into the city while controlling the growth.

Dunn said it's important to try "to keep the flavor of Lilburn while still allowing development.

"We don't want to wake up in a Lilburn we don't recognize," he said.

If elected, Dunn said, he'll work to listen to everyone and try to come to a consensus in making decisions.

Also on the ballot are two people running unopposed for City Council. Johnny Crist is running for Post 1, and S. Scott Batteron is running for Post 2.

SideBar: The candidates

Mayor

Diana Preston

Age: 58

Occupation: Retired part-time school administrator

Education: Specialist's degree in educational leadership from the University of Georgia

Political experience: 17 continuous years on the City Council

Family: Husband, Larry; adult children, Tracy, Jennifer and Brian

Web site: www.dianapreston.net

W. Kenneth Swaim

Age: 69

Occupation: Retired but owns and operates a record service

Education: Graduate of Bass High School in Atlanta

Political experience: Four years on the City Council

Family: Wife, Jackie; son, Michael, 46; 3 grandchildren

Web site: www.kenswaimformayor.org

City Council Post 4

Tim Dunn

Age: 64

Occupation: Administrator at Campus Church

Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration from Memphis State University

Political experience: Two years on the Planning Commission

Family: Wife, Sheila; adult children, Allan and Traci; 6 grandchildren

Contact information: timdunn1@comcast.net

Helen Bryson

Age: 59

Occupation: Registered nurse

Education: Master's degree in education from Georgia State University

Political experience: None

Family: Divorced

Contact: 770-381-9093; helen_bryson@bellsouth.net