JOHNS CREEK, GA — Georgians will take to the polls next Tuesday to vote in local elections, including in Johns Creek.
The Johns Creek City Council election will take place Nov. 5. The election is for the council seats of Post 2, Post 4, and Post 6.
Patch has invited each candidate in contested races to participate in our election profile series. We will continue to update this story with links to responses to our questionnaire.
Part one of the candidate questionnaire dives into who the candidates are, why they want to run and what their long and short term goals are.
Part two showcases what candidates say is the biggest issue that the city faces, how they want to combat that and why people should vote for them.
Brian Weaver weaverforjohnscreek.com
Dilip Tunki www.tunkiforjc.com
Royce Reinecke www.roycereinecke.com
*There is no incumbent for this seat as current Post 2 Council Member Jay Lin is not seeking reelection
Chris Coughlin (incumbent) votechriscoughlin.com
Adam Thomas www.thomasforjohnscreek.com
Kent Altom electkentaltom.com
Marybeth Cooper www.Cooperforthecreek.com
Erin Elwood www.erinforjohnscreek.com
Issure C. Yang Issureforjohnscreek.com
Judy LeFave https://www.judyforjohnscreek.com/
*There is no incumbent for this seat as current Post 6 Council Member Steve Broadbent is not seeking reelection
Question 4: What is the biggest issue you think citizens in Johns Creek face?
Post 2 Candidates
Brian Weaver: I feel the biggest issue facing the citizens of John Creek is traffic and how to effectively plan solutions to meet the transportation needs of the John Creek citizens.
Dilip Tunki: Transparency and communication with citizens of Johns Creek. Some of residents think major decisions are made by city council without keeping citizens of Johns Creek in the loop.
Royce Reinecke: The biggest issue in Johns Creek is doing everything the community would like to be done without overburdening its businesses and residents. These issues include TSPLOST projects, parks projects, storm water improvements, building a fire station, etc.
Post 4 Candidates
Chris Coughlin (incumbent): Per our analyses, traffic congestion is the No. 1 area in which residents want improvement (and No. 2 is development as it relates to smart, sustainable growth). Residents are satisfied with most things (e.g., public safety, schools, high quality of life, etc.) that are essentially the backbone of our community.
Adam Thomas: Traffic and the inability of some council members to work to tackle this issue head-on are the most significant issues. Voters approved numerous road improvements in 2016 that are still at a standstill. If we are paying extra taxes for these things, we need a leader that’s going to take that issue seriously, make a decision, and take action.
Kent Altom: The need for city officials who will listen to the residents of Johns Creek and put the interest of the residents ahead of their own self-interests. Our city governance in the past five years has been marked by too little transparency and not enough input from the broad spectrum of residents. This must change.
There should be lively debate of issues without divisiveness; there should be votes cast without creating factions; and there should be agreement without alliances being formed. A city whose officials are characterized by divisiveness, factions, and alliances cannot serve the interests of its people.
Marybeth Cooper: Traffic congestion is a daily issue in the metro area, and definitely an issue in Johns Creek that impacts the vast majority of our residents.
Post 6 Candidates
Erin Elwood: The No. 1 complaint I hear from residents is traffic. Across the board, that is an issue that really affects our quality of life. The challenge is determining how to improve traffic to improve quality of life while balancing all of the competing interests in this city.
Issure C. Yang: Infrastructure, more specifically traffic.
Judy LeFave: The biggest issue the citizens face is an identity for Johns Creek. Many of the people I have spoken with over the past six weeks want to see a City Center, Cultural Arts Center and they desire a place to gather with their friends and family.
Question 5: How do you plan to combat that issue?
Post 2 Candidates
Brian Weaver: My plan is to continue to utilize current resources and technology to gather information to plan, as well as collaborate with local, state, and federal partners to assist with funding as needed.
Dilip Tunki: Some of the residents who attend city council meeting are aware of the discussions and decisions made. But, most of the residents with their busy schedule would not have time to attend city council meetings and express their concerns and views. I will reach out to residents of the eight areas, will make myself available every Thursday 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at a central location representing that area. There, I will share the information from the city council meetings, decisions made and work in progress. Similarly, I would like to hear from the residents on their views, concerns, and priorities. Information and feedback received from residents will be considered for all the decisions made by the city council. This will provide two-way communication and transparency on the decisions made and it also represents the opinion of the entire community.
Before making any decision, will analyze overall impact to the Johns Creeks future’s and incorporate views and concerns of majority of residents in the Johns Creek. Will provide a detailed analysis on the decision made and impacts of it in short term and long term.
Royce Reinecke: My plan is to contribute my strong project management and executive expertise to work collaboratively with the other six members of council and our city manager to remove barriers to success and increase community engagement in our government decision-making.
Post 4 Candidates
Chris Coughlin (incumbent): Traffic has been a top priority for me since being elected. Some of my successes in this area over the past two years include the below efforts:
I implemented a partnership with Waze to allow for $2 rides anywhere in the metro area for John Creek and Alpharetta residents. This removed several hundred commuters from the road, which equates to thousands of miles off local roads for cleaner air and quicker commutes.
I also implemented walk, bike, and/or ride the bus programs at many elementary schools, reducinghundreds of cars off the road in AM peak hours, with many more planned over the next coming years.
Prior to being elected, I pushed for the review of our $10+ million Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) with emphasis on light timing. There were no performance metrics to confirm the claim that light signalization was optimized to its fullest capabilities. After pushing for an audit, Jacobs Engineering confirmed that we did have a technologically advanced system, but there were opportunities for improvement. To establish a baseline, we took measurements of several operationally defined traveltime metrics and then brought in a light timing expert to improve the signalization coordinationperformance. Following the establishment of baseline performance metrics, we found that we couldimprove travel time metrics through signal optimization. We have done exactly that with some of thecorridors (i.e., 141, State Bridge, McGinnis Ferry, Kimball Bridge, and Old Alabama) and those results can be viewed on my website. We’ll be working to improve Jones Bridge, Abbotts Bridge, and other corridors to ensure we get the most out of our investment in the ITS. I’ve also supported the use of the adaptive timing system while attempting pilots with even newer systems (Rapid Flow Technologies’ Surtrac; used in Georgia Tech’s North Avenue Smart Corridor) that use artificial intelligence to adapt in real-time.
I was the lead council advocate of removing concrete island on southbound 141 at the State Bridge intersection. After partnering with Public Works, we got this project done and now we have thousands of hours of congestion relieved for commuters on 141, our busiest corridor, on a weekly basis. This initiative is one of my favorite successes as it shows how such a small project (GDOT completed with their funds and in a month or so) can have such a magnitude of impact on 50,000 people a day.
I’ve pursued and prioritized TSPLOST projects in terms of congestion efficacy and fiscal efficiency. We currently have eight of 10 TSPLOST projects in the works (i.e., either in concept, engineering, or construction) with a lot of construction going on along our major corridors and intersections set for the next couple of years.
I was a council champion of data-driven Intersection Prioritization list with implementation of smart changes to intersections (e.g., some current projects based on my initiative – left hand turn lane into Barnwell Elementary, left hand turn lane into Foxworth from Old Alabama, fix to Fawn Lake/McGinnis Ferry, etc.) to improve both safety and mobility. This incremental approach will lead to less induced demand in which is required to have the less congestion delay without adding traffic and make the roads safer.
What I plan to do for four years is to apply strategies to address traffic congestion through technology and alternative means. We have had substantial success in using analytic methods to address intersections where we can improve mobility and safety, driven in part by the aforementioned intersection prioritization policy we passed earlier this year. We’ve appropriated funds for the first four intersections on that list for FY2020 and will continue to work through those intersections to improve community mobility. We’ve also applied this data-first mentality to light timing signalization (i.e., setting benchmarks, adjusting the timing algorithms to improve throughput, and show demonstrated efficacy of adjustments when comparing new data against the benchmarks) and continue to make improvements as we’re just starting to make real impactful change as of late. We’ll continue to partner with innovative collaborators like Waze to bring technology to the residents at a reasonable cost to alleviate the burden of congestion in this city. I currently have a couple pilot projects in the works partnering with tech firms to bring technology to this problem to continue to address the problem with novel innovations. We need to also continue to pursue multi-modal lanes to allow pedestrian, cyclist, and golf cart access throughout the city when applicable. I’ll continue to support the most effective TSPLOST projects. Finally, I’ve established relationships with our neighboring communities.
Adam Thomas: With citizen input, I’m going to act decisively to find solutions a majority of the council can agree on and move forward. These road projects have been voted on by residents, approved by residents, and paid for by residents. We’ve paid for it; it’s time to deliver.
Kent Altom: First, I will model professional behavior in my interactions with others. Second, I am skilled (educated and experienced) in conflict resolution (personality styles and disorders, group and community dynamics, negotiation and mediation, etc.) and I will bring my skills to bear in an effort to turn our city council in the right direction. To achieve greater transparency, I will “open the curtains and let the light shine in.” I often do this in courtrooms and judges appreciate it: Without attacking opposing counsel, I let the judge, the jury, and others know what is really going on in a case. The residents and businesses of Johns Creek deserve to have members on its city council who are committed to resisting the temptation to be nasty and those who are unwilling or unable to resist this temptation should not have any shadows in which to hide.
Marybeth Cooper: Utilize the voter approved TSPLOST funds to relieve congestion. Get Tier 1 projects moving. The first project was finally approved, just shy of three years after voters passed it. Funds will only be collected until April 2022, five years after the beginning of the sales tax increase. We do not need to wait another three years for the next project. Traffic congestion is throughout our city, not just on Ga. 141. We need to resolve the Tier 1 blockade and move as expediently as possible.
Post 6 Candidates
Erin Elwood: Get some form of TSPLOST going – a majority of voters in Johns Creek voted for TSPLOST in 2016 so there is clearly a desire for congestion relief in this city. The difficult challenge is determining whether it will be a strict adherence to TSPLOST as defined in 2016 or some deviation. Either way, the citizens are waiting on action from the city council and the money is sitting in the bank. We elect the city council to make decisions on our behalf, and sometimes those decisions are hard. But the people are tired of waiting.
Issure C. Yang: One of the most pressing issues we face is how to deal with traffic. We have typically defaulted to adding lanes as a solution but I would like to see us work on solutions that don’t involve changing the character of our city. We need to take advantage of technology based solutions and make improvements at the intersections. Some options include adding continuous right hand turn lanes or a left hand turn lane or optimizing the traffic lights. There are many solutions we should consider before adding a lane. I will work with the residents, council, and subject matter experts on the best solutions for each road and/or intersection.
Judy LeFave: I plan to work with the other members of city council to develop and move forward with a Master Plan for the city. A Master Plan will cover zoning, traffic and infrastructure issues such as stormwater. I plan to foster relationships with our neighbors in Gwinnett County, Forsyth County as well as Alpharetta.
Question 6: Why should people vote for you?
Post 2 Candidates
Brian Weaver: I would like the citizens of John Creek to vote for me because I hope my passion for this city and my desire to serve as a city council representative has been effectively communicated to the citizens. My family and I have enjoyed living in Johns Creek for seventeen years. As well as living in Johns Creek, I have had the privilege of serving in the city as part of the Johns Creek Police department, which will allow me to utilize my leadership skills and experiences in another capacity to support the city.
Dilip Tunki: 25 years of business experience with engineering and management educational background are the core foundation for my business acumen. My expertise in corporate leadership, governance, project management, operations, finance, engineering and community-based leadership will ensure that key decisions will be made for city of Johns Creek to encompass the growth and long-term plan for the entire community.
Royce Reinecke: I offer the deepest understanding of city issues of all the candidates for Post 2 because for 10 years I have attended city council meetings and provided input that has led to positive council action. I served on the Board of Zoning Appeals for three years making final decisions on zoning and stream buffer variances. I have a long career in improving the performance of organizations. By serving on council, I will be able to contribute more directly towards making Johns Creek even better.
Post 4 Candidates
Chris Coughlin (incumbent): I have a strong record of accomplishments with adding or saving millions of dollars of revenue while not increasing taxes through my policies. I also have strong records as it relates to public safety, recreation and parks, government efficiency, reducing wasteful spending, lowering taxes while improving levels of service, public works and new traffic congestion relief techniques, supporting businesses and the markets, and zoning votes.
Adam Thomas: I’ve helped business owners and families create sustained success in their industries because I understand how to work with others, make tough decisions, and follow through on commitments. At the end of the day, we need leaders that use common sense and leverage their real-world experience – not theories – to get things done.
Kent Altom: It should not go without notice by the voters in Johns Creek that the Post 4 incumbent has drawn as many challengers as there are candidates in each of the open posts. New city council members in the two open posts will change little. There needs to be three new members elected to our city council this year in order to change the dynamic of our city council. I am grateful to have a broad base of support from all corners of our city comprised of residents who see that I have both the desire and the ability to put forth creative solutions to the problems we face as well as a new way of doing things, which will benefit residents and businesses alike. Interestingly, our city has never had an attorney serve on its city council. I believe that I have the right temperament and skills to bring a unique perspective to our city governance.
Marybeth Cooper: I have worked for the betterment of Johns Creek for many years. For the past 2 ½ years, I have worked directly for over 12,000 homeowners as director, vice president, and president of the Johns Creek Community Association. I attend the city council work sessions and city council meetings. I attend other city commission and board meetings. I communicate to many in the community about upcoming issues. I have fought, and won, against bad zoning requests. I have worked with businesses coming to Johns Creek to maximize their positive impact to the city. I will continue to work for all the citizens of Johns Creek.
Post 6 Candidates
Erin Elwood: I am dynamic and forward-looking – I am of the generation of young families buying the homes of the original Johns Creekers, who are now transitioning to empty nesters and considering downsizing and selling the homes where they raised their families. As an attorney, I am very used to serving in a fiduciary capacity, meaning I set aside my interests and work to accomplish the goals that my client wants. And finally, I am extremely hardworking, and I will put in long hours on behalf of the people of Johns Creek.
Issure C. Yang: I believe that our residents are our best and most valuable resources. Your voices should count. At the end of the day, I want to represent the residents of Johns Creek. I want to bring positive changes to Johns Creek. I have the know how and the skill set to be a good steward of your money, to work well with others, and to truly represent our residents. I know I can be the leader who can give the residents a seat at the table. I will represent the will of the people and base my decisions on research and clear facts.
Judy LeFave: People should vote for me because I have the knowledge and experience in the policies and procedures to move necessary efforts to grow our city. We need to work for intelligent, meaningful growth. I have pledged to keep and protect the Johns Creek voters mandate in regard to the use of funds collected for the betterment of Johns Creek guaranteeing a place for our children and future generations to call home.
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