College student challenging Norcross city council incumbent

NORCROSS — Lillian Toole isn’t intimidated.

The 24-year-old is running for Norcross City Council, making her the youngest person to seek political office in the history of the city. She has no political experience, but Toole believes she can help Norcross — even if she needs to topple a two-term incumbent more than three times her age to do so.

“I guess I’ve just never been afraid to stick up for myself,” the 2008 Norcross High School grad said. “I think that my city needs somebody young with a different point of view.”

Toole said she currently works for a customer surveying company and is enrolled in online courses through American Public University to pursue a sports medicine degree. If elected on Nov. 5, the top issue she would address — and the one that spurred her to run in the first place — is finances.

“There’s just been a lot of frivolous spending,” Toole said, referencing a project earlier this year when many of the city’s trees were painted blue. “I was born and raised in Norcross and I’m just tired of seeing money being wasted.”

“I am concerned with irresponsible spending on irrelevant events,” she added, “as well as a lack of consideration of what’s best for the general public.”

Toole’s opponent is Charlie Riehm, who has served on the Norcross City Council for eight years. A semi-retired veteran of the United States Navy with experience and advanced degrees in engineering, the 74-year-old is also a board member of the Downtown Development Authority.

He called himself a moderate conservative and said he wasn’t sure what Toole was referring to — he said the council has had a debt-free budget for eight years and that they “think long and hard” before authorizing spending.

“I will work to continue the redevelopment, prudent debt-free management, city beautification and community building that make Norcross ‘a place to imagine,’” Riehm said, referencing the city’s slogan. “With judicious use of the resources available to us, we can continue to make our city the best it can be.”

Riehm said that, to his knowledge, Toole had made only one public appearance, and that he didn’t really know what his young challenger stood for.

“Basically,” he said, “I’m not sure what I’m campaigning against.”

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson and councilman Craig Newton are also running to retain their respective positions. They are unopposed.


Lillian Toole

Lillian Toole

Age: 24

Education: 2008 Norcross High School graduate; some college, currently enrolled

Occupation: Surveyor at Guild Quality; dog walker, child care provider

Political Experience: None

Family: Single, no children


Charlie Riehm

Charles E. Riehm, Jr. (i)

Age: 74

Education: BSEE, Notre Dame; MSEE, Purdue; MBA, Fairleigh-Dickinson; Nuclear Engineering, US Navy

Occupation: Councilman, trader in equities

Political Experience: Eight years as councilman, Downtown Development Authority board member

Family: Wife Edie, sons Chuck, 49; Steve, 48; Eric, 45; and daughter Cathy, 39; five grandchildren