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 Andrea Redmond, who is running for mayor of Stone Mountain. The answers have not been edited.
1) Why are you running for Mayor?
I am running for mayor because I have been fortunate to live in Stone Mountain most of my life, and I know the standard of living that makes our town great. There are many things that need to change to improve our quality of life. We need a community that works toward unity.
Our town faces challenges financially due to COVID so we should take a more modest approach to balancing the budget. There is a lack of communication between council and citizens; however, through my open communication via city website, public access TV, social media, and newsletters, I hope to help the citizens have a voice about concerning issues. Whether these issues are about safety, policing of our streets and neighborhoods, traffic, public transportation, or housing, I am here to listen.
I want to take opportunities to renovate the retail/office spaces we already have available, instead of bringing in new construction. There is a lack of retail to serve the local community. I want to work with local small businesses to make it easier for them to stay open and succeed. I want a pedestrian friendly downtown with a variety of stores that are useful for our residents. I want to develop and implement a plan to utilize our open spaces for the enjoyment of everyone in our city. The four municipal parks, Mason, Medlock, McCurdy, and VFW, need repair so our children can play safely. I will work for the citizens and provide leadership to resolve these issues in our town.
I believe that good schools are at the heart of a healthy city. Access to a quality public education is a basic human right. The City Council and Mayor should take responsibility to budget allotments to our schools. I believe ALL children deserve an equal opportunity to succeed in life and education is the key that unlocks the door to success. I would like to provide a better educational experience for all our children, which will require teamwork among the Champion School, Stone Mountain Middle and Elementary, the Sue Kellogg Library, and our Human Services programs. I will do this as Mayor.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I am the best candidate for mayor because of my dedication to my profession and my community. I served as an educator with the DeKalb and Gwinnett School systems. I was responsible as a Media Specialist to create and develop a state-of-the-art media center with video production lab for teachers and students. I used data to build a collection of books and materials to provide for the diverse and multi-language school population. We were at the forefront of news broadcasting and computer literacy with an inclusive computer lab accommodating 30 students. I am a parent advocate and educational administrator that served on the Board of Title I Schools. I have served as a member of the UGA and Gwinnett County Education Leadership Cohort and developed the Science Specialist program. I have the skills to cooperate and coordinate with colleagues as I worked for 30 years with the community as a teacher, including 18 years with colleagues as a Math and Science Middle School Specialist. I served the community by thinking of ways to supplement school budgets. I served on the Board of Title I Schools and on the Media Development Project – an organization that advocates having teachers, parents and administrator directly decide how to improve the overall education experience. I am also a member of Parent Centers, an organization that arranges for ESL classes, job training, computer training and career counseling, (free of charge) in local elementary schools for parents of school-age children. I represented the City Council Post 6 encompassing the City of Stone Mountain. I served with vision and passion and started the Farmers Market, 8 years strong, and Tunes by the Tracks, 6 years strong. I was a dedicated servant of the citizens of Stone Mountain. Presently, I serve on the Historic Preservation Commission as Secretary, and communicate with citizens on projects to renovate their historic properties. I spearheaded and organized clean ups of our parks and streets with the help of young people and civic organizations. I also maintain the beautiful planters by the gazebo free of charge to the city. Through my work as a teacher, city council member, city organizer, I proved I am dedicated to making my community a better place to live.
3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?
*Strengthening Economy Post Pandemic
*Budgeting, Accountability, Fiscal Responsibility
*Reducing Crime, Supporting Police, Public Safety
4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing Stone Mountain?
All Metro cities are facing challenges when it comes to increased criminal activity. Keeping our citizens safe is a critical component. I am committed to solutions to reducing crime in Stone Mountain. I will equip our police department with the tools they need to keep us safe. I will clean up blighted areas that are known for criminal activity and I will use technologies that are proven deterrents to crime like cameras, streetlights and data that identifies areas of needs. I am a strong advocate against domestic violence and elderly abuse. Domestic violence is the number one call in Stone Mountain. I will work with DeKalb County Crisis Center, Solicitor General and Adult Health to resolve this problem.
5) What is your current opinion of the current Stone Mountain City Manager?
We have worked very well on many projects. She has handled the overwhelming stress COVID brought to our businesses and citizens with the Federal and State funds our city received. The American Relief Fund, American Rescue Plan, and the Cares Act helped supplement our budget. On the city website, we are presently posting the Stone Mountain Cares Residential Relief Fund Round 2. Our city manager cares about the people of Stone Mountain. I attended all the Special Called Meetings, City Council meetings and the 2020 Audit report via zoom. Her ability to provide specific answers about Covid funding along with Budget Analysis was impressive.
6) What is your opinion of Stone Mountain’s current city council and who will you be voting for in Stone Mountain City Council election?
7) What can the city of Stone Mountain do to better distinguish itself from Stone Mountain Park?
Stone Mountain became a town in 1837. We were second in growth in comparison to Decatur and the first railroad passage was from Decatur to Stone Mountain. The town built from that for a hundred years. Granite was our commodity and we provided employment for many immigrants and homesteaders. We are rich in history, and it was only in the 1960’s that there was a park, so I definitely see our town as an entity of itself and our great heritage in the people that call Stone Mountain home, then and now.
8) Currently, the Mayor only votes to break a tie on the City Council. Do you think the rules should be changed to allow the mayor a vote on all city issues?
We have Council-manager form of government. All legislative and policymaking powers are vested in the city council. The council employs a professionally trained public administrator, the city manager, to carry out the policies it develops. The city manager is the head of the administrative branch of city government. By statute, the mayor is elected for leadership. The mayor’s responsibilities are primarily to preside at council meetings, and act as head of the city as spokesperson, director of ceremonial purposes and for purposes of military law. The mayor votes as a councilmember in the case of a tie vote. This is our law.
9) Do you think the city should use paid parking to capitalize on park attendance?
Our town is not going to be sustained by our locals but by the people who come to our businesses and events, and we want them to continue to do so. Our citizens will pay for the digital pay stations with raised taxes. Many citizens do not like people who come to visit the park on a regular basis, they’re going to come anyway. And they are consistent. It is our responsibility to take care of our visitors and not judge their parking access. Some business owners are afraid a fee for street parking would drive away their customer base. We need visitors and they enjoy free parking. I have helped people in Decatur that are confused by using the machines. There is added frustration, for those that must hand feed machines because they lack cellphone technology. These visitors will not return because we are not visitor friendly. I support our businesses, visitors coming to walk at the park, and will continue free parking.
10) 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?
Our diversity in Stone Mountain is one of our greatest strengths. We are a great city for women, new Americans, and LGBTQ community. I see the impact of a brutal health pandemic and the redemptive power of people coming together to bridge division for the sake of our city. Environmental and social issues are inextricably linked and the health of everyone depends on justice for all. I believe this is a time of deep reflection and an awakening at once. I find hope in uniting all citizens to ensure we thrive in a rapidly changing world.
11) 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 Manager played a key role in following all CDC guidelines for city employees. This was a major factor in slowing the spread of COVID within the workplace at city hall and all businesses in the city followed this example. WE all went into our homes to shelter in place. There were community groups formed on Facebook to help anyone in need. Our police continued to protect our citizens and checked on many of our elderly. We have zoom meetings for the council and commissions. Presently, City Administration ensures personnel performing in person screening activities that appropriately protects against exposure to potentially infectious workers as we slowly begin to work again and enter the facility. Methods known to reduce the risk of transmission including social distancing, physical barriers and mask wearing are advised to continue to help reduce the spread of the virus.
12) What is your opinion of Stone Mountain’s current Downtown Development Authority and what changes would you make, if any?
13) 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?
Our city could become a thriving economic center with ample employment, and higher income levels. The development of our downtown would be the key to unlocking the exciting opportunities. Stone Mountain is a work in progress. Businesses from craft brewers to communication firms, bakeries and cocktail lounges are popping up all along our streets. AS Mayor, I would plan and develop jobs in industrial, technology and medical sectors. I will use my business experience with media technology to bring businesses and jobs to our young people in Stone Mountain. I would also work closely with Georgia Military College, Georgia Perimeter and Stone Mountain High School to cultivate a work talent pool that will encourage any industry to come to Stone Mountain.
14) What should the city do to diversify its revenue streams?
Our local government has a sound revenue diversification plan. If there was a disruption of what is in place and others (council) were to determine expenditure levels with little regards to the preferences of the voters, our budget would suffer. We presently do not adopt local sales or income taxes, in that property tax revenue is less cyclical than income tax and sales tax revenue. The property tax base responds slowly to changes in the property tax rate, particularly in the short run, because property is hard to move geographically.
15) 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?
Our population is broken down with 58% women, 25% over 50 and 50% renters. The deterioration of our homes is not a quick fix, nor a reason to tax anyone. AS Mayor, I would like to develop a Clean Up Initiative with the cooperation of the City Manager. Together, we have begun to develop a plan to give back and build our community. We have many talented craftsmen and craftswomen that are willing to help those in need. I have a plan for Community Aides, that would incorporate these individuals that would work with me to go into neighborhoods and work in yards and repair homes. At this time with COVID, these jobs would strictly be outside. I have experience in renovations and would be actively working with our elderly and women to provide the assistance they need to maintain their homes.
16) What is your opinion about Stone Mountain’s current tax rate, and do you think it should be higher, lower or remain the same?
I attended all 3 Zoom meetings for the public input on our millage rate. The final decision was 17.818 millage and I agreed with the City Manager’s assessment that we could manage our budget. I would like it to be lower, and I suggested they, City Manager and Council, go over the budget with this millage rate and lower if possible.
17) Stone Mountain has recently decided to move forward with overdue upgrades to city parks. What Park improvements would you like to see?
As an education leader, I believe that we must invest in our youth early. I played ball, cheered, and attended summer camps at the parks in our city and I know the value to the children and the parents for having friendly parks. I will work to get grants, private donations, and carefully budgeted programs to help keep our children occupied and learning with youth-based activities and after school and summer programs. I believe creating top notch playgrounds at our city parks will be transformative to make our parks more family friendly and kid friendly. I want to improve bike paths, green space, and level walking tracks for our senior citizens.
18) What do you think is Stone Mountain’s greatest strength?
Stone Mountain is a place where all people have a voice and are welcomed with respect. I am committed to all my neighbors. This city made me the person I am today, and I find hope in uniting all citizens to ensure we provide a wholesome town for our young people and young families to thrive. My parents and grandparents with many others made this a great city.
19) What do you think is Stone Mountain’s biggest challenge?
I understand the responsibility facing a tight budget and delivering all the infrastructure needs. Bridging this gap is a complex interdisciplinary challenge that requires planning, funding, financing, construction, and operation of infrastructure assets.
20) How would you address what you believe to be Stone Mountain’s biggest challenge?
I believe development and repair of basic infrastructure such as utilities, and storm water drainage must be done. I will utilize grants and other cost offsets to make sure Stone Mountain comes into the 21st century with broadband technology. Our Federal government is working on an Infrastructure Fund for cities and I am sure this along with our SPLOST funds will help us begin to repair the roads in high traffic areas, sidewalks and storm water drainage.
21) 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?
AS Mayor, I will be at the front lines of innovation, working with people across the spectrum to create a more inclusive and economically strong city. I know that how we work is just as important as what we do.
My roots are grounded in love for the city of Stone Mountain. I will focus on lifting people up and achieving real results for my hometown. As Mayor that’s a thinker and a doer, I will fill the potholes, grow the economy, and provide needed services to the citizens.
The role of mayor of Stone Mountain is more than just a job for me, it is my home.
I know only together can success be achieved.
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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