Editor’s note: Decaturish and the Tucker Observer have published an Elections Guide, a 76-page e-edition featuring Q&As with nearly every candidate running in our communities. To see it, click here. This special e-edition features candidates running for public office in Decatur, Avondale Estates, Atlanta City Council District 5, Clarkston Tucker and Stone Mountain. There is a PDF version of this, which you can see by clicking here, but due to the format of this e-edition, we strongly encourage you to use the e-reader version.
The Tucker Observer provided each candidate in our local races with a series of questions about local issues. Here are the answers of candidate Shawn Woods, who is running for District 1, Post 2 on the Tucker City Council. The answers have not been edited.
1) Why are you running for this office?
It is extremely important to me that people “see” someone that looks like them involved in politics at a local level. It is equally important to me that those same people are actively engaged in local politics. Our judges, police captains, distribution of resources, sidewalks, zoning – all of that happens at a local level. Of course, some of these things do not apply just yet to Tucker, but again I am running because of my passion to influence change at a local level. I’ve heard this echoed on National television and in the living rooms of my friends – we are at a crucial stage in politics. The veracity that is expressed for federal elections must be expressed for local politics There is power in our vote, but first people need to understand there is absolute power in actually knowing the candidates and what they stand for.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
In my previous response, I stated that there is power in each citizen getting to know the candidates. I believe this whole heartedly. I believe that my opponents are good people. I believe they love Tucker. But I also know that after one conversation with me, the citizens of Tucker – business owners and residents alike – understand that I have a platform. They remember my platform and most importantly, they walk away understanding that my platform is inclusive, not cost prohibitive, and can be implemented relatively quickly. I answer questions and show the people of Tucker where I stand on issues, there is no political rhetoric here. My opponents want this to be a popularity contest, but yard signs and simple handshakes should not determine who wins this race.
3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?
Reimaging Public Safety, Stimulating Economic Development and Reshaping Parks and Recreation
4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing the city of Tucker?
Moving past the rhetoric and the ideology of “Keeping Tucker, Tucker”, all I hear is a rebranded version of “Make America Great Again”. The time has come for the citizens of Tucker to make an informed decision on how it wants to be viewed by the outside world. Being in leadership is a privilege not a right. One shouldn’t be assigned to a leadership role based on popularity and who sees who at block parties. Tucker deserves and requires the Leadership of individuals with the ability to help the city take its rightful place as a destination city right here in Dekalb.
5) What is your opinion of Tucker’s current mayor and who will you be voting for in the mayoral election?
I don’t agree with his politics. The current Mayor’s refusal to bring the NDO forward for a public reading/discussion is shameful. It is in direct conflict with my parenting, my politics, and my career. I work in the film industry – which is extremely diverse and inclusive. In short, inclusion matters.
6) What is your opinion of Tucker’s current city manager?
I sat down with the city manager and discussed the details of a portion of my platform related to parks and recreation. Specifically, to implement E-gaming and Coding into Tucker’s youth Sports. The whole committee seemed very receptive to this idea. Currently, I don’t foresee challenges working with the city manager in the future.
7) What is your current opinion of the DeKalb County Police Department and are there any changes you would advocate for if you are elected?
As the first candidate in the race to sit down with the former Lieutenant and discuss the DeKalb police and my platform as it pertains to public safety; I understand that they are short staffed. Keeping this in mind, I believe they are doing the best they can. Part of my platform is to re-establish the neighborhood watch throughout the neighborhoods and communities of Tucker. Most crimes are solved with the engagement of involved citizens working hand in hand the police. Tucker’s focus should be on being a proactive community vs being a reactive community. I would also love to see the Police be more engaged with our children at our schools. Think of this way – how would you feel as a kid if you saw police officers talking to you at school or having conversations at sporting events when there is no crisis or when there is no conflict to resolve? Kids today are very open-minded and informed about the world we live in. It would be nice to recruit these citizens of the world to be our future protectors.
8) Tucker residents, all involved in boards or committees in city government, drafted a non-discrimination ordinance. Many of the cities surrounding Tucker have an NDO, yet Tucker City Council has not brought it for a discussion. What is your position on the non-discrimination ordinance?
I have a written response to the NDO which can be seen publicly, I will attach it. However, in short, the City Council and specifically the mayor calling the NDO divisive is shameful. Tucker residents should be embarrassed by this display.
9) Racial justice and diversity have been points of conversation over the last year. What will you do to promote racial justice and diversity in the city of Tucker?
I think you start with the leadership. How can you expect the city of Tucker to be inclusive, when the government is not inclusive? If your ecosystem only consists of your neighborhood, neighbors that look like you, and Main Street Tucker – then you have to ask yourself, how inclusive and understanding can you be?
10) What do you think of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what steps do you think the city should take to help reduce the spread of the virus?
I know the mayor has been public with promoting mask use. I still believe a mask mandate should have been put in place. I understand the reasoning behind not wanting to tie up Tucker’s resources with policing non-mask wearers. But on the opposite side of that same coin, we must be willing to go all in to protect all the citizens of Tucker. The science still says that mask wearing is an effective way to slow the spread.
11) Residents frequently complain about roads and drainage. As of now, the majority of the responsibility lies with DeKalb. How would you work with the county to improve these services?
As a resident before becoming a candidate, I’ve asked myself the question – should Tucker start the process of taking over roads and drainage? The candidate in me wants to give a wiz-bang answer. But to be fair and in keeping with my mantra of being informed – I would like more information on what the cost would be to the citizens of Tucker. Based on the cost, the city council can make an informed decision.
12) Parks and Rec is working to turn Fitzgerald Field into an arena that will attract sports tournaments and outdoor events. How will this go over in Tucker? Does the city have enough infrastructure, like sidewalks, to support a sports complex?
I love forward thinking change and I love sports and outdoor events. Not sure that we could ever go wrong with either of those. However, we must continue to support and highlight our youth programs at Fitzgerald Field. I had to opportunity to speak with the parents of several of Tucker’s bright young football stars at the opening of the season celebration. I heard lots of enthusiasm around the changes coming to field. I also heard concerns about parking and people wanting to better understand the details around the improvements. I look forward to hearing more about the plans.
13) The city of Tucker largely is staffed by contractors, people who do not directly work for the city. Do you support the current method of staffing the city’s government or would you want to change to a more traditional system where employees work directly for the city?
The age-old question of contractor versus employee. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; you’ve likely heard arguments for and against either side. I will go on record as saying that if it is cost effective AND the citizens of Tucker receive the best-in-class service with a staff of contractors, then I will advocate to maintain that situation. If it is cost effective, but the service lacks and the citizens of Tucker are not given the most effective service with contractors, then I will advocate to change that situation.
14) Do you support continuing to stream Tucker’s meetings online? Why or why not?
I’m a tech guy, so I love the fact citizens can participate via zoom. Both online and in-person should continue to be an option. Our goal as an effective city council should be to engage and involve as many citizens as possible.
15) What can be done to improve pedestrian safety on Tucker’s roads?
I would like to see more speed reducing options. Speed humps/bumps, radar signs and round abouts could be useful. I would also like to hear the city planning departments take on this topic.
16) What do you think is Tucker’s greatest strength?
Finally, an easy question – The citizens. You can’t live in Tucker and not recognize how amazing the residents are.
17) What do you think is Tucker’s biggest challenge?
Changing the mindset that Tucker is a hidden gem of a town. While Tucker is a gem it is not hidden and nor should we want it to be. It is a vital part of metropolitan Atlanta. It is no different than Decatur, Chamblee, or Smyrna in terms of being a part of a larger whole. If the citizens of Tucker don’t embrace the changing landscape, change will be forced upon us. Last I checked there were no factories making new land. Tucker is poised from a location perspective to be a battleground for real estate, both residential and commercial. Adopting the NDO is a large banner that says that Tucker is ready to embrace an inclusive future.
18) How would you address what you believe to be Tucker’s biggest challenge?
By changing the leadership. How can you expect the city to be viewed as progressive and forward thinking when that’s not the outlook of our leadership? That’s why I’m running for city council and that’s why I’m supporting other candidates who see Tucker as a melting pot.
19) If you are elected, what will you do to support the business community in the city of Tucker?
I am extremely pro-business. I have already sat down with the Dekalb County Entertainment Commission. The purpose of this meeting was to push for Tucker to take a larger role in the film industry. Dekalb county is the largest filming location in Georgia. Yes – that is worth repeating, Dekalb County is the largest filming location in Georgia. There is no reason that Tucker should not be positioned to economically benefit from that. I am suggesting as part of my platform – FILMTUCKER.ORG. As part of the plan, we will create a video database that highlights homes, commercial locations, and specialty businesses that can be used as filming locations or as service providers to the film industry.
Covid has taught so many people in multiple industries that remote working and collaboration is not possible, but profitable. Today location mangers and production companies would love to access location specific, detailed information via the internet. I also would like to put together a comprehensive plan to show Film and Technology companies just how accessible Tucker is. This would be highlighting our proximity to major landmarks and thoroughfares within the metropolitan area of Atlanta.
20) If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government?
Let’s start by putting all city council meetings on zoom. It wouldn’t bother me one bit to engage more citizens.
More information about voting in the Nov. 2 election:
Election Day is Nov. 2. Early voting will begin on Oct. 12 and will end on Oct. 29. The voter registration deadline 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.
To apply for an absentee ballot:
— Visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.
— Complete the absentee ballot application using the state’s official paper form. Use black or blue ink only.
Applications can be mailed to the county elections office at this address: DeKalb County Election office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032-1239.
Applications can also be submitted by 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, call DeKalb Elections office, 404-298-4020. You may still vote in person, either early or on Election Day.
In accordance with SB202, a new voting bill signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in March, a copy of a voter’s ID is required to apply for an absentee ballot. A Georgia driver’s license, Georgia state ID, Georgia voter card, U.S. Passport, U.S. military ID, employee ID issued by any branch of the federal or state government, 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.
Early voting begins Oct. 12 and ends Oct. 29. The hours for early voting are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be weekend early voting on Oct. 16, 17, 23 and 24. Call your elections office for hours.
Beginning Oct. 12, you can participate in early voting at the following locations:
– Bessie Branham Recreation Center (2051 Delano Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30317)
– Lynwood Recreation Center (3360 Osborne Road NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319)
– Berean Christian Church – Family Life Center (2197 Young Road, Stone Mountain, GA 30088)
– DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Office (4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300, Decatur, GA 30032)
– Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library (5234 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084)
– Stonecrest Library (3123 Klondike Road, Stonecrest, GA 30038)
– County Line-Ellenwood Library (4331 River Road, Ellenwood, GA 30294)
– Dunwoody Library (5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road., Dunwoody, GA 30338)
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