LAWRENCEVILLE -- Political comebacks could happen next week, with former officials taking on current councilmen in runoffs in two local cities.
In the county seat of Lawrenceville, former mayor Rex Millsaps is squaring off against incumbent P.K. Martin for a council seat, while Dacula Councilman Tim Montgomery is defending his seat from Hubert Wells, who vacated that seat five years ago for an unsuccessful run for mayor.
"I think it's unique because we have a lot of mutual friends," Martin said of the Lawrenceville battle.
But the political foes have plenty of differences in terms of views.
"I don't think any plan is too big for Lawrenceville," Martin said, adding that he has a vision to work with the growing Georgia Gwinnett College and to redevelop the city.
Millsaps, who served as a legislator in the '80s and as mayor for four years, said he has been frustrated watching from the sidelines since he lost a close election for another term last year.
The worst, he said, was when the city converted to a city manager form of government.
"I was a little frustrated that we changed our form of government without the people getting a vote," he said, adding that the strong mayor form of government had worked throughout history.
Martin, a 34-year-old insurance agent, said the change brings "a modern form of government" to a city with a $90 million budget. A scathing city audit revealed communication and other issues that a manager could have avoided, he said.
Millsaps, a 60-year-old accountant, said he wants to rein in government spending, especially a proposed park to be built on an old landfill behind the former city hall. He said reclamation would be costly, while Martin said initial assessments show the site is not toxic. He said officials should look further into the environmental impacts before discounting a project that could bring a revival to the city.
Both agree that the city should continue to pursue a well system as an alternative to getting water from Lake Lanier.
In Dacula, Wells and Montgomery both agree that county officials have treated the city like "a step-child," neglecting issues such as sewage and transportation.
Montgomery, a 53-year-old veterinarian, said he has been working with nearby Barrow County to try to reach an agreement on hooking into their Bethlehem treatment plant.
"That's going to be a costly situation, but the alternative is to have a development donut with a rotting central infrastructure," he said, adding that he has been looking for support on road projects too.
But Wells said Montgomery has had plenty of time to deal with the issue since he took over Wells' seat in 2005.
"He keeps dreaming up projects that cost millions," Wells said of his competition. "If you can't finance it, there's not a lot of point in wasting your time on it."
Wells, a 61-year-old plumber, said he is more interested in supporting city employees and tax relief.
Since turnout is notoriously low in runoffs, candidates in both cities are working to convince voters to go back to the polls, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.