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6 vie for 2 Lawrenceville City Council seats

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Observers need not look hard to find common buzzwords among candidates for City Council in Gwinnett's county seat:

"Airport."

"Expansion."

"Commercialization."

Et cetera.

Six candidates will vie Nov. 8 for two open council posts. Among them are political newcomers touting fresh ideas and more seasoned politicians with experience under their belts. All point to the proposed expansion of Gwinnett County Airport's Briscoe Field, a move that could accommodate commercial flights in the county, as hot topic No. 1.

Lawrenceville Council Post 3

Name: Robert Clark

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired educator

Education: Bachelor's and Doctor of Education degrees from the University of Tennessee

Political Experience: Four years on Lawrenceville City Council

Family: Wife, Valerie; sons, Pearson, 21, and Barrett, 20

Name: Eric Reid

Age: 50

Occupation: Residential real estate broker

Education: Bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota

Political Experience: None

Family: Two adopted children, ages 1 and 2

Name: Bradley Sullivan

Age: 31

Occupation: Songwriter/producer/investor

Education: Some college

Political Experience: None

Family: Engaged

Lawrenceville Council Post 4

Name: Renita Hamilton

Age: 36

Occupation: Wedding and event planner

Education: Bachelor's degree in mass communication, Master's degree in strategic leadership from Savannah State University

Political Experience: None

Family: Son, Kaleb, 13

Name: Peter “P.K.” Martin

Age: 34

Occupation: Insurance agent

Education: Bachelor's degree in international affairs from Georgia Tech

Political Experience: Six years on Lawrenceville City Council

Family: Wife, Amanda; daughter, Charlotte, 6, and son, Kuhl, 4

Name: Rex Millsaps

Age: 60

Occupation: certified public accountant

Education: Bachelor's degree from Georgia State University

Political Experience: Member of Georgia House of Representatives (1983-1984), City of Lawrenceville mayor (2006-2010)

Family: Wife, Sheila; daughters, Melissa, 36, Karla, 27; sons, Andy, 40, and Chad, 36

The city boasts an enlivened downtown and a blossoming institution in Georgia Gwinnett College. Candidates expressed interest in linking the two, and in rejuvenating commercial corridors with investment incentives. The city has made recent strides with decorative signage that points to landmarks and gives a more uniform appearance.

Lawrenceville carries four city council posts, plus a mayor. All council seats are two-year terms. A referendum on this year's ballot asks voters if retail Sunday alcohol sales (beer and wine) should be allowed.

Of six candidates, only councilman P.K. Martin (Post 4) is an incumbent. Councilwoman Katie Hart Smith has opted not to seek reelection for Post 3.

Council Post 3

Retired educator and past city councilman Robert Clark is passionate about stopping efforts to privatize or expand the airport "once and for all," calling the proposed expansion "the greatest threat" to the city. Clark had served as principal at three Gwinnett County schools.

"The defeat of this idea is critical for Lawrenceville to attract residents and businesses," Clark said. "I'm working to oppose any effort -- including a contractual agreement between the county and a private entity -- that might lead to commercial passenger service."

Eric Reid, a residential real estate broker, is critical of council members who approved an airport expansion in 2008 under the city's 2030 Comprehensive Plan, he said. Beyond discouraging an airport expansion, Reid said the council should focus on zoning and code enforcement to reinforce sagging property values.

"Like most of Lawrenceville, I have seen my home go from an investment in my family's financial security to a rapidly depreciating liability," Reid said.

Bradley Sullivan, whose diverse career includes songwriting and producing music alongside investing, also disparages the "unfavorable changes" an expanded airport would bring, he said. Encouraging tourism and more attractive shopping options in downtown Lawrenceville could buttress the "Mayberry" vision Sullivan has for the city he loves.

"I'm not a 'politician.' I'm not going to tell people what they want to hear," Sullivan said. "I speak from the heart."

Council Post 4

Renita Hamilton, a wedding and event planner, believes her relative inexperience in politics is a good thing, in that it offers her a fresh and innovative perspective to solving problems. In addition to thwarting airport expansion efforts, Hamilton is adamant about redesigning the city's infrastructure and image.

"My ideas will enhance the quality of life for all residents and business owners," Hamilton said. "I am fully vested in the city, its growth and educating our children."

Insurance agent Peter Martin, who's logged six years on the council, said he gels with the current council and has shown a willingness to compromise for the good of the city. With the proximity of Georgia Gwinnett College and Gwinnett Medical Center, Martin believes the possibility of attracting more high-paying jobs is real.

"I will continue to fight for making sure Lawrenceville is protected from ill-advised (airport) expansion plans," Martin said. "We'll also continue to pursue additional greenspace, neighborhood improvements and (investment) incentives."

Former Lawrenceville mayor and Georgia state representative Rex Millsaps believes his experience gives him an edge in the race for Post 4. A certified public accountant, Millsaps called his tenure in city government invaluable and said the council post is appealing in that it allows him to vote on every issue. Such as the airport.

"The fact that (expansion and commercialization) is even being discussed is having devastating effects on our property values," Millsaps said.

Comments

EricReid 2 years, 5 months ago

The complete answers asked by Josh Green of Eric Reid What are your primary reasons for running in this election? I am the parent of two toddler children, and as such, I am committed to preserving Lawrenceville's quality of life for future generations. As a homeowner, I share your concerns with falling home values and will work to protect our property values and our family's assets. As a local business owner, I am invested in the economic success of our community. We need strong leaders who are fully invested in Lawrenceville's our community in order to preserve what is great about Lawrenceville while making our city competitive and successful. I believe it is time to look forward, not backward.

- What issues facing the city are you particularly passionate or knowledgeable about? Explain. The single biggest threat to our quality of life remains the expansion of Briscoe Airport. Public records are clear that airport expansion was previously approved in 2008 under the updated 2030 Comprehensive Plan by members of our own city council that included Bob Clark. I have been consistent and clear in my opposition to any expansion of Briscoe Field. No, means NO. No expansion, no commercialization, no privatization. Last year the city council took a positive step forward and voted for a resolution opposing airport expansion, but we can't risk taking a step backward by electing a former councilman with a history of approving an expanded airport. The second issue is the local housing market. Like most of Lawrenceville, I have seen my home go from an investment in my family's financial security to a rapidly depreciating liability. We need zoning and code enforcement that is responsive to individual homeowners and HOA needs without being overly intrusive and infringing on the rights of the individual property owner. I believe our city officials can do a better job at working with individual homeowners, the LNA, and homeowner associations to create a plan to stabilize local home values.

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EricReid 2 years, 5 months ago

part 2

  • What issues do you think are at the top of voters' minds? Foremost, voters in Lawrenceville are almost unanimous in their opposition to airport expansion. I have made my position clear and consistent; absolutely NO expansion of the airport is acceptable, regardless of whether the planes are carrying passengers or boxes of widgets. Voters are concerned about electing candidates who are truly opposed to expansion, and not simply paying lip service for political gain.
    Another issue is the recent accounting audit for the period 2006-2010. Voters are very upset with the way this report reflects on our city. Mr. Clark, a member of the 2006 city council, says while on city council he led efforts to bring accountability to city services. However this audit shows a failure in leadership, lack of accountability by city officials, a city council that neglected their oversight responsibilities, and a disregard for city assets and taxpayer dollars.(audit is on public record at city mangers office). The city council is elected to oversee city services and clearly the taxpayers haven't gotten their money's worth. Voters are ready for new leadership. Go backward to the same city council of 2006 will not move Lawrenceville forward.

  • What about you should appeal to voters? Voters are looking for a honest candidate to be their voice on city council; a candidate who is available and willing to listen. I will be a councilman who serves the people, asks for your input on issues, and who votes in their interests. I have an office in downtown Lawrenceville across from the parking deck. Anyone is welcome to drop by my office to discuss issues or express their concerns, and I will continue to be available to every resident long after this election is over.

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EricReid 2 years, 5 months ago

part 3 of interview by Josh Green of Eric Reid

What is your political experience, if any? Councilwoman Katie Hart Smith put it best in a recent article "Smith urged voters to vote with their hearts, always, vote for that individual that will represent the city the best; that will serve as a good-will ambassador and will serve with the utmost respect for the city and the people." I will bring extensive business and leadership experience as well as my passion for this city to the board. I have severed on the National Association of Realtors Federal Fair Housing Board and I am actively involved in many civic and professional organizations. My opponents has ran his campaign based on previous city council experience; but as we all know, some experiences don't need to be repeated. It's time to move Lawrenceville forward It's time for a New Voice on City Council, It's time to Vote Eric Reid

Name: Eric Reid Age: 50 Occupation: Local Businessman / Residential Real Estate Broker Education: University of Minnesota with post graduate certification in Family & Substance Abuse Counseling I attend the 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville. As a boy I was raised in a home that centered on "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." -- Luke 12:48. I have serves as a foster parent, in Gwinnett county, for the last 5 years, and more recently have taken steps to become an adoptive parent. I have been blessed with the opportunity to adopt two children with special needs, a 2 1/2 year old boy and his 1 1/2 year old sister, they are my joy each and every day. I will bring this same servant heart to the citizens of Lawrenceville as their City Councilman.

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TheoNash 2 years, 5 months ago

Again this "news" outlet has failed to report the whole story in order to protect one of their political golden boys. Bob Clark served on city council in 2008 and voted for expanding the airport. He approved a plan to build a second runway, build a commuter rail station at Cedars Rd to service the airport, annexing property surrounding the airport, and upgrading the existing airport runway to allow heavier aircraft. That all sounds pretty much like airport expansion to me and was supported by the entire city council in 2008. Also, the paper has completely failed to cover the recent city audit and the fact that Bob Clark and PK Martin claim to have led city council in that mess. When candidates send out mailers saying they "led efforts to bring accountability to city services" like Bob has and bragging about a manufactured record like PK is; these two should be ashamed to even admit they were part of this mess, much less leading it. Clark and Martin need credit for all the neglect, lack of oversight, government waste, and over $3 million in wasted tax dollars that occurred under his "leadership."

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