Peachtree Corners got a little advice from Suwanee in the way of some helpful tips for the candidates running for City Council.
Suwanee's former mayor, the city manager and an attorney well-versed in setting up new cities held a candidate orientation at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Wednesday night for the prospective city council members.
All 19 of the candidates running for one of the six Peachtree Corners City Council seats were invited to attend the program, which was designed to provide helpful advice on the challenges of campaigning and what the candidates should expect on the campaign trail and beyond.
Nick Masino, former Suwanee mayor and current Sr. Vice President of Economic Development & Partnership for the Gwinnett Chamber, along with Marty Allen, Suwanee's city manager, and Bill Riley, an attorney with Riley McLendon, LLC, were on hand to provide insight on what lies ahead.
Looking around the room full of hopeful candidates, Masino addressed the group saying of his time in office, "It was the most rewarding thing I ever did in the eight years I was Suwanee Mayor."
Then he offered a reality check for the 19 candidates: "There are 19 of you running for six seats which means 13 of you will not win."
And those that do not win a seat on the City Council, Masino pointed out, still have many opportunities to serve the new city.
"Although you may not win, there are a lot of other positions to fill which may lead to an elected position in the future." The city will also need people to fill voluntary positions on the planning commission, board of appeals and other seats.
And, Masino warned, be prepared to attend a lot of meetings if you do get elected. "You guys have so much to do," he said of the future City Council members.
Allen, Suwanee's city manager, noted that in a typical city manager form of government, the mayor and council determine policies, while the city manager handles the daily operations. "Allow us to use our skills and expertise," said Allen, who encouraged the mayor and council to turn the day-to-day operations to the city manager and staff.
"You have a great opportunity, you get to start from scratch," said Allen. "Remember, things take time, costs more than it should and will be more complicated than it should be."
Riley, who has handled the legal transitions for the cities of Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, said the city of Peachtree Corners is in an enviable position.
"You are a very fortunate group of people," observed Riley. Starting a new city, he said, is "just like having a baby. You thought carrying this thing to the start was it -- no it's just the beginning."
Riley pointed out that once the City Council members are elected, the real work begins. But he noted that Peachtree Corners charter offers the mayor and city council more time to transition into its role. "You have time to figure out just the way you want to build it"
Post 2 council candidate Stephen Peet said afterwards, "I thought all of the information was useful! ... The comment I liked the most was the observation and idea that everyone in the room, whether they won a council member post or not, would be able to contribute in a meaningful way to building the new city of Peachtree Corners, and that we have so many people willing to work on this project. I think that was very helpful to everyone to hear."
Weare Gratwick, a Post 6 candidate, said about the presentation: "I found the meeting to be very helpful. ... the advice to the Council to let the city's professional staff do their job was insightful. The candidates who attended now also have a better understanding of level of commitment that will be required."