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 Alexis Weaver, who is running for District 3, Post 1 on the Tucker City Council. The answers have not been edited.
1) Why are you running for this office?
I am running to represent District 3 on the Tucker City Council because of my commitment to public service and belief that it is essential to have representation that reflects the inclusive values of Tucker residents. We chose to make Tucker our home over eight years ago because of the rich diversity of this community and the terrific amenities. It is important to me to be rooted in a place where everyone has an opportunity to flourish and find success.
Through two decades working as an urban planner and nonprofit leader to address poverty, homelessness and hunger in communities, I have focused on empowering stakeholders to have a seat at tables of power and a voice in the way decisions are made. I am a leader who intentionally seeks to increase citizen engagement and listen well. I will be a champion for an open and transparent city government that values creativity and collaboration as we provide opportunities for all residents to engage, contribute and thrive.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
As a mom of three young children and active community volunteer and church leader here in Tucker, I see the breadth of our community and regularly interact with Tucker residents across generations—from serving with NETWorks Cooperative Ministry to cheering on my son at Fitzgerald Field to being a room mom at Livsey Elementary School. These diverse community experiences give me unique insight and a fresh, energized perspective.
My background as an urban planner working in community and economic development and reputation as a bridge-builder equip me to provide strong and effective leadership on day one.
3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?
Creating a clear housing development strategy as well as long-term planning to leverage our economic growth are top priorities. What mix of housing types, densities, quantities and zoning tactics are required so that our community can grow well? We must take strategic steps to make home ownership a reality for more families.
With a vision for the future, we should evaluate our existing comprehensive plan, identify what has been executed well and where there is opportunity to re-direct funds and focus to ensure the intent of the Tucker Tomorrow Plan is achieved. We should focus on enhancing recreation through an expansion of youth sports programs and parks connectivity for all residents. Let’s move quickly to connect Tucker to the PATH so our parks are connected in one accessible system for pedestrians and cyclists. I have additional information about my priorities at www.Alexis4Tucker.com.
4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing the city of Tucker?
Tucker is a young city experiencing rapid and multi-faceted growth and is at a crossroads—this growth can either offer opportunity for a few, or opportunity for all. We deserve a community where people can work here, play here and afford to live here. In order to leverage our economic growth, address housing issues, improve public infrastructure and enhance parks and youth programs, we must put forward and promote opportunities for citizen input and engagement so that decision-making is representative of our diverse community as we begin to undertake comprehensive planning.
5) What is your opinion of Tucker’s current mayor and who will you be voting for in the mayoral election?
I appreciate the positive contributions of Mayor Auman during the last six years, including his leadership of the incorporation efforts. After two terms of service and a two-year pandemic, I believe the time is right for new leadership, and so I am supporting Robin Biro.
6) What is your opinion of Tucker’s current city manager?
If elected, I look forward to working alongside city manager Tami Hanlin. I am grateful for all the hard-working city staff who have done so much good on behalf of our young city.
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?
The officers that serve our city are some of the finest, and the new community policing program that the Tucker Precinct has been working on is very promising. Relationships are key, and I will work to improve the city’s coordination with the Dekalb County Police Department, including greater collaboration with our local precinct.
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’m an enthusiastic supporter of a Non-Discrimination Ordinance and ally of my LGBTQ neighbors. Discrimination has no place in our city. I commend those who have already done the hard work in advocating for and drafting the ordinance. Tucker residents should know that the city ‘has their back’ and is committed to protecting them. The lack of willingness of our elected officials to even discuss the proposed ordinance is a glaring failure. I will work to ensure we take this first, most basic step toward inclusion.
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?
Racial justice and diversity have been points of conversation for many in Tucker. This is not true for our city government. The city cannot stay silent on weighty matters with community implications, whether we are talking about non-discrimination or racial diversity and equity.
I will advocate for the creation of citizen advisory boards to ensure that under-represented voices in our community are heard and valued in decision making. These advisory boards will increase citizen engagement and allow space for needed conversations about how we can come together as a whole community. Specifically, a citizen advisory board focused on diversity and inclusion is needed. An equity assessment of the city’s activities, boards, committees, appointments and decisions is a starting point on this path toward greater inclusion and more equitable community.
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?
We missed an opportunity in 2020 to work with citizens and businesses to find creative, community-based solutions to protect public health and also protect our local economy. The marketing campaign promoting voluntary mask wearing was an inadequate response to the unique moment presented by the pandemic.
As the pandemic continues and the Delta variant surges, we must renew our focus on championing public health and vaccine promotion. We should incentivize and lift up businesses that require mask wearing and the city should do the same in its facilities and at indoor events. As a mom of three young children not yet eligible for the vaccine, I feel strongly that the city must go the extra mile for the sake of all its residents.
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? Should Tucker start the process of taking over roads and drainage?
The city should prioritize its advocacy role on behalf of the needs of its residents with Dekalb County. We should expand and publicize the existing citizen responder role so that Tucker residents are well-informed and know where to report their concerns over unsafe roads or extreme sewer charges. This is both a communications and economic development issue that deserves greater attention and resources to effectively address.
A feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis of the financial implications related to taking over these responsibilities would be first needed, as well as significant community input. At this time, the city should focus on improving these vital services through increased engagement with residents, advocacy and collaboration with the county.
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?
Tucker should absolutely aspire to be a destination for sporting and other outdoor events. There is so much great potential for Fitzgerald Field—our family has spent five seasons at the Fitz rooting on our son and the Tucker Lions!
But is Fitzgerald Field the best place for these large-scale events? How were these decisions made? What are the specifics of this agreement and acquisition? These are questions that should have been fully and publicly addressed prior to acquisition. This is an example of the need for greater transparency and increased community input in the important decision-making processes of the city.
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?
Most residents of Tucker don’t know or understand what a high percentage of our “city” staff are not employed directly by the city. As our city continues to mature and grow, we should revisit this arrangement and assess whether it is the most effective approach to staffing here in the present, and whether it aligns with the type of city we want Tucker to be. We should consider the implications of not having a professional, city-managed human resources department. The system that made sense at the time of incorporation might not be the best system now.
14) Do you support continuing to stream Tucker’s meetings online? Why or why not?
Absolutely. This is a very simple and essential way to increase transparency and accessibility, providing residents with easy access to information about proposals and decision-making. Live streaming also has the added benefit of raising awareness about community issues and will increase citizen engagement. It’s a win-win.
15) What can be done to improve pedestrian safety on Tucker’s roads?
I am a mom of a 2nd grader and 4th grader who love riding their bicycles, and so pedestrian safety is top of mind for me. We must continue to expand sidewalks as quickly as possible. More infrastructure is needed to promote safety—lighted crosswalks, bike lanes, improved signage, street trees, additional lights, and traffic calming devices to name a few. This is another area where a strategic approach involving public input at the city level and strengthened relationships and collaboration with the Dekalb County Police Department are needed.
16) What do you think is Tucker’s greatest strength?
Diversity. We chose to make Tucker our home because of its rich diversity. Tucker is a city made up of a multitude of nationalities, races, ethnicities, languages, family structures, faiths, and socio-economic backgrounds. It is important to my husband and I that our children experience this diversity as we raise them to be kind, inclusive and care for their neighbors.
17) What do you think is Tucker’s biggest challenge?
We must engage the entire community in a long-term visioning process for the future of Tucker and build our short-term comprehensive plans and annual budgets within that vision. This requires taking a 20-to-30 year view of how we address infrastructure concerns, affordable housing, and building a strategic funding reserve. We need to lean into being a community where people can live, work and play—and that requires structures, strategy and plans that value thoughtful growth for a liveable community.
18) How would you address what you believe to be Tucker’s biggest challenge?
I am proposing the creation of citizen advisory boards that are representative of our community to help conduct comprehensive assessments of current city programming and make recommendations on key indicators of success.
A process is needed for evaluating how well we execute on our plans and against our annual budgets—not simply moving forward without a process for improvement. I believe this would lead to a visioning process for Tucker in advance of or in conjunction with the next comprehensive plan.
19) If you are elected, what will you do to support the business community in the city of Tucker?
My previous professional background includes five years working in community and economic development at a chamber of commerce. A robust private-public partnership between the city and a more formal business development organization will allow the incredible work of our existing, primarily volunteer-led, organizations to have even greater impact in bringing together and advocating for the business community. It would also create space for incubation of new businesses. Let’s capitalize on our community’s entrepreneurial spirit by convening our business community in a formal way (such as quarterly business roundtables) and continue to expand on our “Industry Days.”
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?
Yes, absolutely. My parents raised me to value the importance of living a life of integrity, and the integrity of elected officials helps to foster trust within our community. Transparency is central to maintaining public trust and strong communication is essential. I am committed to using traditional as well online platforms to share information with residents and solicit their input.
I would like to see the city form neighborhood clusters to increase community engagement, bring in new voices, and allow opportunities to directly share with council members and city staff about how current activities are affecting their neighborhood. I’m a leader who is passionate about connecting with and convening residents to hear their hopes and concerns, and responding with action.
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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