Tucker, GA — Robin Biro, a businessman and retired Army Ranger, is running for mayor of Tucker. Biro has years of experience in grassroots politics as a national pundit with appearances on major networks, field director for President Barack Obama in 2008, political director for Democratic Party of Georgia and strategist for the Democratic Party. He is also a commercial real estate consultant.
Mayor Frank Auman has not announced if he is running for reelection. Candidates have until Aug. 20 to file their candidacy. The election for mayor and city council members is Nov. 2.
In a volunteer role, Biro has served on the Kanawha Community Association, Lions Club International, Voices of Note, Gay and Lesbian Business Guild and Lost n’ Found Youth. He has attended the DeKalb County Police Department’s Citizens’ Academy.
Biro, 46, is a single father of two boys. After Biro’s father died, he took guardianship of his young half-brothers, Logan, 9, and Tucker, 13. He fell in love with the city of Tucker because it seemed like a place that would “welcome us in and nourish our souls.” Biro said the boys, who moved from a remote area of Colorado, are thriving.
Biro moved to Smoke Rise in 2017 from midtown Atlanta.
“If you want to see trees, beautiful rolling hills and gorgeous vistas, you must go to Tucker and Smoke Rise, which has natural beauty in spades,” said Biro.
Biro is running on several issues: representative government, infrastructure, crime, blight and homelessness.
“People want and deserve elected officials who show up and are willing to protect the interests of the people they represent. Bottom line: Elected office should be about public service. I pledge to represent and be a good steward of the interests of the community. Period,” said Biro.
Through canvassing Tucker residents, Biro found strong support for a non-discrimination ordinance “to make sure that our residents are all treated fairly and with respect.” Government should represent the people it governs, said Biro.
Tucker didn’t become a city to depend on DeKalb County in perpetuity, Biro said, and must begin to plan for the future. While Tucker is not prepared for its own police or fire departments, Biro wants to hold DeKalb County accountable for appropriate use of tax dollars on the city’s “crumbling infrastructure.”
“If the city ever wants to take over control of some of its own infrastructure, we need [DeKalb County] to do their part and get these systems in shape so that we don’t inherit a boondoggle. We don’t have to rely just on SPLOST funds for our parks and recreation – those funds run out in 2026 anyway. We better be ready to maintain these new pathways, parks and roads. There are plenty of ways that we can prepare now for that inevitability and set ourselves up for success,” said Biro.
To offset infrastructure costs, Biro wants to implement impact fees, paid by new residents to the city for new construction, and raise watershed fees. In the metro area, Tucker ranks among the lowest for watershed fees. He said simple, commonsense approaches to taxes would help defray costs when SPLOST monies run out in 2026.
According to FBI crime statistics, Biro said Tucker residents have a 1 in 40 chance of being subject to property crimes or violent crimes. Crime is driving down property values, and preventing economic development of restaurants, businesses and redevelopment projects, said Biro. Property values have yet to recover from the 2008 housing crisis in Tucker and other Atlanta suburban communities, he added.
Biro recognized Mayor Auman and councilmembers for improving parks and increasing zoning and planning restrictions on auto shops on major thoroughfares. However, he wants to see more work/live redevelopment of old strip malls, the film industry welcomed to the “oversupply of unused warehouse space in Tucker” and overall revitalization for these blighted and unused properties.
Homelessness, Biro said, is a problem that will hit Tucker when federal protections from eviction moratoriums and mortgage forbearance agreements expire. City Council in March passed an urban camping ordinance, but DeKalb County Police Department has not released an approximate number of unsheltered people in Tucker.
“We have no idea right now how many Tucker residents this will affect, and we must be ready to offer support services to prevent homelessness,” he said, estimating Tucker has around 70 homeless residents.
To address homelessness, Biro wants to create a commission involving the faith community, local organizations and experts in homelessness to engage substance abuse services, jobs and skills programs to “help get people back on their feet.” He proposed to turn non-frontage road plots of land into affordable housing for all ages, abilities and demographics. Offering tax incentives to developers for the construction of affordable housing would provide a financial incentive.
“We can draft legislation that would require that a certain percentage of new multifamily housing be set aside for low-income/voucher residents,” said Biro. “There’s plenty of non-frontage road land that is zoned appropriately for this use. We can be better stewards of what we have here in Tucker regarding resources, and we can be better stewards to those less fortunate than ourselves.”
The election is Nov. 2. Candidates who have announced a run this year are:
– Roger Orlando, candidate for District 1, Post 1
– Shawn Woods, candidate for District 1, Post 2
– Virginia Rece, candidate for District 1, Post 2
– Imani Barnes, candidate for District 2, Post 1
– Cara Schroeder, candidate for District 2, Post 1
– Neal Stubblefield, candidate for District 3, Post 1
– Robin Biro, candidate for Mayor
The seats on the ballot this year are:
– Mayor, post currently held by Frank Auman
– District 1 Post 1, currently held by Pat Soltys**
– District 2 Post 1, currently held by Matt Robbins*
– District 3 Post 1, currently held by Michelle Penkava*
– District 1, Post 2 is vacant and was held by the late Bill Rosenfeld
*These councilmembers are term limited and can’t run again
**These councilmembers are not seeking reelection
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