Tucker City Council District 1, Post 2 candidates talk parks, impact fees during forum

Tucker District 1, Post 2 candidates, left to right: Christine Bloodworth, Shawn Woods, Virginia Rece

Tucker, GA — Candidates for District 1, Post 2 Tucker City Council are Christine Bloodworth, Virginia Rece and Shawn Woods. The special election is to fill the vacancy left by Councilmember Bill Rosenfeld, who died in January.

Christine Bloodworth is passionate about civic engagement and community outreach. She has lived in Tucker for 27 years, started six businesses in town and is running to address the unmet needs to Tucker residents.

Shawn Woods was captivated by local politics when he was a kid, and has wanted to run for office ever since. He wants to see inclusivity in Tucker. “Change lies within local municipalities,” said Woods.

Virginia Rece is an 18-year resident of Tucker. She is running for Tucker City Council because she believes in the work of public service. “I say I like to plant flowers wherever I am, and I want to pay forward things that were done for me,” said Rece.

The candidates met in a virtual forum on Sept. 18, moderated by Decaturish Editor and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt. Each candidate delivered an opening and closing statement, along with an answer to questions from staff and readers. Tucker Observer is bringing you the highlights of the forum.

Here’s the full video of the forum:

Here is our recap of the forum:

Q: This election has brought out candidates with a diverse range of perspectives. Running this year are people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and single parents. What does that say to you about the future of Tucker?

Woods said it says more about the current state of Tucker because minorities make up 48 percent of residents.

“We have a bright future,” said Woods, who wants the makeup of the city council to be more inclusive.

Rece said civic engagement is important, and diversity is an asset for the community,

“I think [engagement and diversity] is the beauty and the framework of our city,” she said.

Bloodworth said when she moved to Tucker it was a “small, sleepy town.” Over the years, Tucker has progressed into a very diverse city, she said.

“The mere fact that we have 13 people running demonstrates that there are a lot of voices and a lot of groups in the community that aren’t being heard,” said Bloodworth.

 Q: In terms of parks like Fitzgerald Field and the Tucker PATH, where will you find a steady stream of dollars to make progress on these projects besides SPLOST and federal money?  

Rece said Fitzgerald Field will be an opportunity to earn additional dollars to finance our parks and recreation, so she is a “big supporter” of the project. But Bloodworth is not quite sold on the idea of Fitzgerald Field – her concern is parking and noise in surrounding neighborhoods.

Woods’ platform includes bringing e-gaming to Tucker Parks and Recreation.

“It’s a huge revenue generator as far as parks goes,” he said. “If we can introduce something outside of the box like e-sports and e-gaming to bring in more revenue, then we’re bringing in more kids, we’re bringing in more families.”

Q: What is your position on charging developers impact fees?

“The things I’ve heard about the impact fees are general terms. I personally haven’t done enough research to understand what it means,” said Woods.

Rece said the purpose of the impact fees is to offset fees charged cost to taxpayers.

“My philosophy is, we’re either going to pay for something on the front end or we’re going to pay for it on the back end, but someone is always going to pay,” she said. “At this time, I just don’t see the efficacy of impact fees.”

Bloodworth wants to research what’s been proposed to City Council. Implementing impact fees would save citizens and the city money, she said.

Q: What are your goals for the next four years with regard to three city services: Zoning, code enforcement and parks?

A part of Rece’s platform is to grow parks, protect green space and build connectivity to downtown by following the parks master plan. She would use zoning and code enforcement to address Lawrenceville Highway and Mountain industrial Boulevard.

“We have an excellent engineering team. We’ve got excellent staff that can help guide us to ensure that everything that we build will be for a better Tucker,” Rece said.

“We need more public engagement where our zoning is concerned because there’s a lot of things that take place in the city that our citizens aren’t aware of, whether it be for commercial or residential,” said Bloodworth, who wants to diversify businesses.

Woods said, “We have the ability to really develop Tucker and implement affordable housing and provide overall mobility to a lot of the younger people within our community.” As far as code enforcement, Woods said wants to review data on which districts are reported most frequently.

Q: What is your position on implementing a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) in the city of Tucker?  

Each candidate is behind the idea of an NDO, a document written by three residents and supported by Tucker Open Door to protect residents, employees and business owners from discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, disability, citizenship status, military status, marital status and more.

Woods said he will ask for NDO to come before City Council within his first 30 days in office. Cities surrounding Tucker — Dunwoody, Decatur, Chamblee, Doraville and Clarkston – have NDOs.

“What separates us from those five communities? All five of those communities have a non-discrimination ordinance. I listened to the mayor speak a couple days ago and explain all of the hurdles, but I think if those communities were able to get one passed, we should be able to get one passed,” Woods said.

Rece said, “I want everyone who comes here to feel welcomed here, that they feel welcome to start a business here, they feel welcomed put down roots and start a family here. So I’m going to work very hard to do whatever I can to get the non-discrimination ordinance passed.”

Q” What needs to happen before Tucker can take over stormwater and roads from DeKalb County? It has been a year since that has been proposed to the city council.

DeKalb County is overwhelmed, underfunded and understaffed, said Rece.

“Part of my campaign platform is to be a good steward of our tax dollars. I want to make sure that we are financially ready for [taking over services from DeKalb County],” she said.

Bloodworth, a resident of DeKalb County for over 40, said “you really have to hold DeKalb County accountable on a lot of things.”

She said she’s concerned with amount of new construction in Tucker. “Are we going to be able to handle the overload?” she asked.

Q: Tucker has seen growth in recent years, including new residential developments, what are your plans to manage the growth that Tucker is seeing?

Rece said zoning and code enforcement help Tucker to mitigate to control and ensure responsible development. She said the city will continue to negotiate and work with developers to make sure that green space is protected. By creating housing options for every economic level, Rece said it ensures Tucker has “a viable workforce and that includes every economic level.”

Bloodworth said growth needs to be regulated because Tucker is already gridlocked with traffic in the morning and after school. We need to work closely with CIDs, districts, City Council and residents, she said.

“I do believe that we keep growing at the rate that we are now and we are going to max out on our ability to be able to manage it,” said Bloodworth.

Woods said the city can maintain its charm and greenspace while growing by building out Northlake with different housing options.

“Tucker being a hidden gem is no longer. We’re still a gem, but we’re not a hidden gem. We just need to get ahead of our development, maybe stop some of the bickering and understand where we are as a community,” Woods said.

More information about the Nov. 2 municipal elections

All Tucker Observer elections coverage can be found at Tuckerobservervotes.com 

The election will be Nov. 2. Early voting will begin on Oct. 12. The voter registration deadline for the upcoming city elections is Oct. 4. To register to vote, click here.

To see a list of important dates in the 2021 election year, click here.

Voters in DeKalb County are eligible to apply for an absentee ballot as of Aug. 16. The county will hold municipal elections on Nov. 2, as well as a county-wide E-SPLOST vote for DeKalb County schools.

To apply for an absentee ballot:

— Visit the Georgia Secretary of State website: www.sos.ga.gov.

—  Complete the absentee ballot application using the state’s official paper form or request an absentee ballot in writing. Use blue or black ink only.

Applications can be mailed to the county elections office and voter’s should use this address: DeKalb County Election office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032-1239.

Applications can also be submitted through fax, 404-298-4038 or email, [email protected]

Voters may send an absentee ballot request for multiple people who live in the same household in the same envelope or email.

If an absentee ballot is not mailed to you, contact your county’s elections office. You may still vote in person, either early or on Election Day.

An absentee ballot application must be received 11 days prior to the election, which is Oct. 22.

In accordance with SB202, a new voting bill signed by Governor Brian Kemp in March, a voter ID is required to apply for an absentee ballot. A Georgia driver’s license, Georgia voter card, U.S. military ID, employee ID issued by any branch of the federal or state government, U.S. Passport, tribal ID, or a document verifying a voter’s name and address – including a paycheck, utility bill, or bank statement – are accepted forms of ID.

Voters can obtain a free ID at the DeKalb County Elections office at 4380 Memorial Drive in Decatur or at the following locations:

– On Aug. 25 from 3-6 p.m. at Doraville Marta Station, 6000 New Peachtree Road, Doraville 30340.

— On Aug. 30 from 3-6 p.m. at Indian Creek Marta Station, 3901 Durham Park Road, Stone Mountain 30083.

— On Sept. 15 from 3-6 p.m. at Chamblee Marta Station, 5200 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee 303041.

— On Sept. 14 from 3-6 p.m. at Kensington Marta Station, 3505 Kensington Road, Decatur 30032.

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