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 Diana Roe Hollis (incumbent), who is running for Stone Mountain City Council Post 4. The answers have not been edited.
1) Why are you running for this office?
I am running for City Council to try to make a positive difference. I am running to serve our community and to promote a safe and clean environment for all of us to enjoy
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I have no personal agenda. My wish is to provide a clean and safe environment while promoting commercial growth and fiscal responsibility.
3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?
My top priorities are: I could not limit it to 2 or 3
a. Restoring our police services to provide a safe place for residents and visitors
b. Cleaning and repairing city properties by hiring Public Work staff
c. Infrastructure restoration
d. Increase fair and equitable pay and benefits to help attract and retain good employees
4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing Stone Mountain?
In my opinion, our most important issues are:
a) Hiring police officers to provide for the safety of our citizens and visitors
b) Neglect of our infrastructure and parks
c) Streamlining our permitting process to welcome, not frustrate, new business
d) Promoting commercial growth
e) Blight reduction
5) What is your current opinion of the current Stone Mountain city manager?
Our City Manager does an excellent job of maintaining our financial status. We have consistently had excellent audits. Ms. Thornton came into a financial situation that was not ideal, we no longer have to borrow money to fund day to day operations. Under her financial guidance, the debt to our Stormwater fund has been repaid
6) What is your opinion of Stone Mountain’s current mayor and who will you be voting for in the Stone Mountain mayoral election?
I have high regard for Mayor Wheeler and appreciate her over 37 years of public service. My vote will be based on who will best serve and not divide our citizens.
7) What can the city of Stone Mountain do to better distinguish itself from Stone Mountain Park?
As Stone Mountain Park is a world famous attraction, we need to find common ground to be better neighbours. They are a park, we are a city of unique people. We need to support one another as we have done in the past.
8) Do you think the city should use paid parking to capitalize on park attendance?
Currently, we seem to be providing free parking to those who choose not to pay the annual or daily fee to enter Stone Mountain Park. The people who use our spaces, do not add to the economic well being of the city. We need a larger police force to enforce the parking issues
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 Stone Mountain?
Diversity has been a point of division for several years. For many of the years that we have lived in the village we were diverse without trying to be. The racial tension generally comes from those who do not live here or who have not lived here for a long time and want to show us how we should hate one another.
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 feel that the Administration, with the support, of the Council, has worked hard to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus and the mutations. I see no reason to discontinue the wearing of masks, sanitizing our city properties and providing public information to keep our citizens and visitors safe.
11) What is your opinion of Stone Mountain’s current Downtown Development Authority and what changes would you make, if any?
I feel that our current DDA has forgotten the original purpose. We seem to be studied a great deal, at a great cost with no positive results. I believe that we need to get back to basics, fill our empty buildings with unique retail shops( not chain stores). We had great success with this in the past, prior to having a DDA. I have not voted to fund the DDA. The city was promised in 2004 that the DDA would be self-funded by January 2005. So far, the DDA does not seem to be an economic benefit to our city and every year they ask for money to fund their operation.
12) If elected, what would you do to support the business community and how would you sell Stone Mountain to businesses considering setting up shop in the city?
I want the permitting process streamlined(as we were promised) to make us a place that people want to bring their businesses to. The term “ user friendly” comes to mind. If we have more retail shops, the revenue stream increases and we could lower our license fees. That appears to be a win win situation to me.
I want to shop in my own hometown the way that we used to. We only have 3 retail shops and they all promoted our health and well-being. We currently have several great places to eat and gather, but we need something to keep visitors here after they have enjoyed a great meal. We need to look to the past when we were vibrant and thriving and make it better.
13) What should the city do to diversify its revenue streams?
We had an opportunity to expand during a prior administration, unfortunately the opportunity was not taken and Tucker took all of the unincorporated industry in the former Stone Mountain CID. The unpleasant fact is that residential taxes are the city’s main revenue stream. The less than ideal solution is to incorporate less attractive commercial properties and try to bring them up to what the Village would like to see. We need to have a pharmacy, a grocery and places that our residents and visitors will find necessary. I feel that our DDA has let the citizens down by not bringing these services to the Village
14) Do you think the city of Stone Mountain should implement a “blight tax” to penalize home and property owners who do not take care of their properties?
The so-called blight tax is not meant to penalize, it is meant to encourage civic pride in our homes and property. We have a high rate of absentee landlords, rental homes, vacant lots and empty buildings. The owners do not see the deterioration and it becomes unimportant to them. They do not seem to care that it depresses the area near the neglected properties.
There are Federal and State programs available to our financially challenged neighbours and this council is currently working to get the information out to our citizens. Our Code Compliance officer is working to track down absentee property owners and use the law to convince them to bring their properties up to code. Unfortunately, we do not have the financial resources to hire additional staff to make the process more timely.
15) What is your opinion about Stone Mountain’s current tax rate and do you think it should be higher, lower or remain the same?
Several months ago, the council did a millage rate roll back to lessen the burden that the DeKalb County tax assessment created. The City of Stone Mountain DID NOT raise taxes, the Dekalb reappraisal of property caused the property values to increase. The roll back reduced the amount of services that the city can provide. Our Public Works and Public Safety staff are smaller than they have been in more than 10 years
16) Stone Mountain has recently decided to move forward with overdue upgrades to city parks. What park improvements would you like to see?
For many years our parks were a hub for youth sports. The team lease agreements paid for most of the upkeep and maintenance of the 4 parks. Our children should have team sports opportunities. There was recent interest by organized leagues to help with the cost of renovations in 2 of the parks. Unfortunately, that opportunity was declined and will be benefitting other communities. Our sports parks have had 20 years of neglect by not being utilized. 2 parks seem to be benefitting from SPLOST funds, with the promise that the other two are “ on the list”
17) What do you think is Stone Mountain’s greatest strength?
Our greatest strength is the long term residents that have stayed with the promise of better days to return.
18) What do you think is Stone Mountain’s biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is the small group of folks who spend their days trying to find ways to divide us. If these folks would take that negative energy and actually remember the reason that they moved to the Village, we might get back to being a whole community.
19) How would you address what you believe to be Stone Mountain’s biggest challenge?
How do you stop a clanging gong? How do you stop bullies from calling you by untrue names? Don’t back down, don’t give in and remember that there truths and facts that will prove them wrong.
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 feel that those who have taken the time to know me will say that I am not a politician. I am an open book and my only agenda is to restore our Village to the safe, friendly, unique, thriving and vibrant place the it once was.
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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