Hundreds turn out for Peachtree Corners council race forum

PEACHTREE CORNERS -- Residents preparing to build Peachtree Corners' first city council crowded into a church Tuesday to hear what prospective leaders had to say.

"The secret to having a great city is having a lot of people who vote," said Gay Shook, who organized the series of candidate forums for the city, which becomes official in July.

"This is the spirit of what the city can be," Post 5 candidate Gray Terry said of the standing-room only crowd of more than 300.

Candidates for three at-large posts and one of the city's three districts answered questions on topics from experience to trash collection, and even touched on the controversial airport privation proposal nearly 20 miles away in the county seat.

Most agreed they wanted to stick to the charter approved by voters in November, which creates a government with limited services and taxes.

"What an exciting time to be part of this community," Post 6 candidate Weare Gratnick said. "It's about having a local voice in how our future is shaped."

The March 6 ballot is filled with candidates who have volunteered in the community for years, and unopposed mayoral candidate Mike Mason said nearly all seemed to be good picks for the inaugural council.

"My desire is to serve my city, and see my city established with a firm foundation," Post 4 candidate Jeanne Aulbach said.

"When you're needed in the community, you should step up and do your part and help out," Post 6 candidate Brian Stickney said.

Many of the candidates were involved in the campaign for cityhood, but Post 5's Brent Johnson admitted he voted no in November.

"My agenda is for you guys and for my 3-year-old daughter," he said. "I want to make sure we set it up so we have no problems."

The men and women set for the March 6 ballot each talked about unique experience that would help them set up the city: Jay Lowe's sports marketing and business experience (Post 2); Stephen Peet's work with contractors (Post 2); Gloria Ruck's volunteerism raising support for troops (Post 4); Raymond Cobb's work on the Gwinnett Planning Commission and Lilburn Community Improvement District board (Post 6); Stickney's law degree; Lorri Christopher's work with grants (Post 5); Robert Byar's Eagle Scout achievement (Post 4).

"A tool box, that is what you are putting together," said David Leader, a candidate for Post 6, "We're going to get a diverse tool kit."