Candidate Q&A – Stone Mountain City Council Post 6 candidate Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith. Photo by Ben Gray [email protected]

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 Ryan Smith, who is running for Stone Mountain City Council Post 6. The answers have not been edited. 

1)      Why are you running for this office?

It is my belief that I can make a positive difference in our city’s government and provide leadership for business growth in our city.

2)      What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?

I am devoted to the positive growth of our city and I can make the needed decisions required to help make this happen.

3)      If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?

Stay in touch with the citizens of City of Stone Mountain and their needs as well as the existing businesses and possible new business. I also would like to see the continue of improvements to downtown area which everyone sees as they drive through our city. Finally, I want to see a positive interaction with the DDA.

4)      In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing Stone Mountain?

Presently there is a lot of distrust between the council and the DDA that needs to be eliminated. The council needs to understand the need of the DDA for the positive growth of the city and the DDA needs to understand the concerns from the council.

5)      What is your current opinion of the current Stone Mountain city manager?

I believe Ms. ChaQuias Thornton is very professional and without her our city government would be lost.

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 only see Ms. Wheeler on the monthly Zoom calls which is not her strong point and outdoor city gatherings. In council meeting on Zoom she sometimes losses control of the meeting which makes the meetings last much longer that required and is not productive.  I will be voting for Eileen Smith for mayor.

7)      What can the city of Stone Mountain do to better distinguish itself from Stone Mountain Park?

Install road signs on all major roads coming into and out of the city stating you have arrived or you just left of city.

8)      Do you think the city should use paid parking to capitalize on park attendance?

Not unless this can be done without hurting or business and their clients that need to park in our city to eat or shop.

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?

I will keep my ears open to listen to the needs of everyone and I will make sure I respond to everyone’s questions and concerns. I will also promote changes when road blocks are discovered.

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?

Our city has provided support for many residents of the city and eliminated as many face to face meetings as possible so my feelings are that the majority of our citizens are aware of the health problems and we should not do much more without shutting down future growth and survival of our city.

11)   What is your opinion of Stone Mountain’s current Downtown Development Authority and what changes would you make, if any?

Add new members with the positive attitude toward continued growth.

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 would support the DDA and go to any local and state meetings that could possibly help the city to attract new businesses.

13)   What should the city do to diversify its revenue stream? 

Concentrate on filling the downtown stores that are empty with ones that people would want to go inside and buy goods.

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?

Yes, as many of these homes are owned by a landlord’s or past family members that could afford to make the needed improvements or sell the property.  If the homeowner cannot afford to make improvements and their income would back this, they would be exempt.

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?

Remain the same and possibly increase in order to keep a balanced budget.

16)   Stone Mountain has recently decided to move forward with overdue upgrades to city parks. What Park improvements would you like to see?

Make them all more welcoming with nicer matching signs with lights, pave parking lots, add additional lights, and restrooms. Today most of our parks don’t look welcoming and new people to the area wouldn’t recognize them as parks.

17)   What do you think is Stone Mountain’s greatest strength?

We are located adjacent to the second largest tourist attraction in the Southeast, only behind Disney World.

18)   What do you think is Stone Mountain’s biggest challenge?

Providing the business leaders with the support needed for them to grow and want to do future investments.

19)   How would you address what you believe to be Stone Mountain’s biggest challenge?

I would continue put effort toward educating the council so they could understand that growth of the city’s businesses would bring in additional tax dollars and reduce the tax burden on the city residents.

20)   If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?

Yes, I have been in the business world all my life and as a realtor today it is required for me to ethics training classes yearly.  How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government?  I would alert the council when and where they could attend ethics training and lead by example.

More information about voting in the Nov. 2 election: 

All elections coverage can be found at Decaturishvotes.com and Tuckerobservervotes.com.  

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.

An absentee ballot application must be received by Oct. 22.

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)

For the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding early voting times and locations, visit Decaturishvotes.com and Tuckerobservervotes.com or call 404-298-4020.  

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