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 Virginia Rece, 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?
I am running for Tucker City Council because I believe passionately in giving back to my community I love and the work of public service. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Tucker community as their next City Council member.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I have a proven track record and have built community trust for over 15 years. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and worked with others to find solutions to our local issues. Whether it was protecting Smoke Rise Elementary from having a cell phone tower built on the property, serving on the Board of SRCA, working to address public safety concerns or helping to mitigate noise pollution and road safety concerns, I’ve led initiatives and brough leaders and neighbors to the table to work together for the good of the entire community.
3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?
My top 3 priorities are: 1) Encouraging quality economic growth; 2) Ensuring our government is fiscally responsible; 3) Improving public safety
4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing the city of Tucker?
Managing development and growth that gives everyone in Tucker a chance to thrive and prosper. Maintaining and building a strong infrastructure, including multi-use transportation like the Tucker Path and transit options, protecting our Parks and Path Master Plan to ensure its completion. We must protect and increase housing for every socioeconomic level, especially entry level housing for young families and options for our seniors to be able to age in the community they love.
5) What is your opinion of Tucker’s current mayor and who will you be voting for in the mayoral election?
NO ANSWER PROVIDED
6) What is your opinion of Tucker’s current city manager?
NO ANSWER PROVIDED
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?
DeKalb County Police has been working hard to improve communication, promote goodwill and safety in our community. DCPD has a mobile crisis unit staffed with a registered nurse and police officer to answer mental health crisis calls. In July, they introduced Community Service Aides to answer non-violent calls. Recently, DCPD made 2 big arrests of habitual drag race organizers, which has been a huge issue here in Tucker. There’s always room for improvements but I believe our officers are working hard to meet our most pressing needs and improve relationships in the community.
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 strongly support a NDO and have made that position public.
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?
There’s no question that our diversity is our strength and that we should support policies and programs that promote racial justice and make our community more equitable. Getting the NDO passed will help in making everyone that wants to come here to build a life filled with joy and opportunity feel welcomed. I’d also like an initiative that guides and advises women and people of color who would like to open a business in Tucker, or currently have a business in Tucker.
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 would have likely advocated for some form of mask mandate, but it would have been unenforceable, so it’s doubtful it would have been effective. I don’t believe the cities who required masks actually made arrests or fined those who did not wear one. Tucker went ahead and provided education and resources. The mayor did many public service announcements to share information from our local medical experts and strongly encouraged folks to wear a mask for the safety of all of our community. Thousands of masks were distributed to Tucker businesses and residents. My son and I have asthma and I have family members who are medically vulnerable so, as a family, we chose to social distance and wear masks in all areas that we felt would protect us and those around us. I made masks for my family and friends and donated to organizations to help the cause.
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?
Our city and DeKalb officials meet monthly to address problem areas. The relationships I’ve built over the years working in the community will help me bring Tucker issues to the forefront of DeKalb. Should Tucker start the process of taking over roads and drainage? Not at this time, but we should look at it for the future, keeping in mind budget priorities. There is a need to work with the county in areas that are cost effective, but we should always study each area and be prepared to change when necessary. It would also require a referendum of Tucker residents, so we would need to be sure everyone is educated on the issue so they 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?
Tucker citizens are excited about the opportunity to have a world-class venue that will offer sports and concerts year-round. Fitzgerald will be a great asset to our community and offer sports and social opportunities right here in our community, keeping revenues here and funding improvements to our parks. Does the city have enough infrastructure, like sidewalks, to support a sports complex? Fitzgerald’s infrastructure was in great disrepair when the city obtained the property and they’ve been working t improve it all along. Modernizing the facilities will bring new vitality to the area. Sidewalks are already in place along Lawrenceville Highway, but we’ll need to ensure pedestrian safety within the park.
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?
When Tucker became a city, professional, experienced staff who helped set up other new Metro Atlanta cities was brought in to assist. It was cost effective, fiscally responsible and set us up for success. The city continues to hire direct staff as needed. I think it’s important to make that transition, thoughtfully and responsibly. Plus, we are lucky to have many knowledgeable Tucker residents as a part of the team.
14) Do you support continuing to stream Tucker’s meetings online? Why or why not?
Yes, I think it’s an important service the city can provide for those that are medically fragile during COVID and promotes transparency and trust in our local government.
15) What can be done to improve pedestrian safety on Tucker’s roads?
Ensuring implementation of Tucker’s Transportation Plan that not only takes into account road safety but has numerous recommendations for pedestrian safety as well including sidewalks, complete streets and safety crossings. Also, the Path Master Plan’s implementation will improve pedestrian safety.
16) What do you think is Tucker’s greatest strength?
We have energized, caring a passionate people who care about our community and want to make it better. I love that about Tucker. We come together, no matter our differences and work for the good our community.
17) What do you think is Tucker’s biggest challenge?
Ensuring quality economic development and growth that gives everyone in Tucker a chance to thrive and prosper. We need to continue planning now for the future. We want to attract young professionals and provide for the quality of life that keeps them in Tucker as they progress through the many stages of their lives. We need more residential options that suit the needs of all of our current and future residents no matter their income. We must also retain and attract quality businesses for jobs, so people can work close to home.
18) How would you address what you believe to be Tucker’s biggest challenge?
We have a comprehensive plan that was created from 9 months of community input. This is a blueprint to building an even better Tucker. Comprehensive plans are periodically updated to ensure as a community evolves and its needs may change, the city is prepared for the future. The next Council will be involved in this process.
19) If you are elected, what will you do to support the business community in the city of Tucker?
As a small business owner, I understand the challenges our businesses face every day. While some businesses have done very well during the pandemic, others, like my business in the entertainment/event industry have been devastated. I will do all I can to ensure we are supportive of our businesses by looking for ways to make their interactions with the city efficient and responsive to their needs. Businesses right now need a strong, viable work force. If we bring in the amenities that attract young adults, such as greenspace, entry level homes and quality jobs, I believe we will continue to attract businesses organically. More and more, people are attracted to the amenities around them, and so are businesses looking to support their workforce.
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?
I would work to get a Certified City of Ethics designation
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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