Norb Leahy is the kind of guy who likes to start things.
Leahy, a longtime Dunwoody resident, said he was encouraged to run for Dunwoody City Council, but wouldn’t consider it because as a general rule, he doesn’t join organizations that already exist.
So, he started a Tea Party instead.
Leahy said he established the Dunwoody Tea Party as a way to address the issues he sees in city government. But he doesn’t envision it becoming a lasting establishment.
He likes to end things, too.
Leahy plans to write the charter of the Dunwoody Tea Party to include a clause that will call for the party to be disbanded when its objectives have been met.
“When you start something, you have to make sure it doesn’t turn into a Frankenstein or do anything harmful. And that it has an end point and served its purpose,” Leahy said.
Leahy found success battling local government as a new resident of Saint Charles, Mo., more than 30 years ago. He created a council to represent local home owners associations and battle government corruption.
“I left a termination clause and said when all this nonsense settles down, flush it,” Leahy said.
Leahy considers it a success. Eventually, the organization was disbanded and 11 of its members went on to serve in elected offices.
Leahy said he formed the Dunwoody Tea Party to serve as a conservative voice in the city’s politics. He has taken issue with the city’s plan to put a bond referendum on the November ballot to finance purchasing land for city parks.
He believes the city should focus only on necessities and avoid using bonds to finance city projects.
“A government is like a utility … what we need to do is strip it down to those bare essentials,” Leahy said. “What I really object to with Dunwoody City Council is bonds. I don’t mind tax increases. I really mind bonds. Bonds can sink a city.”
Nationwide, the Tea Party movement has generated a lot of interest with its small government, low tax ideology. Leahy is hoping to build on that momentum at the local level.
Leahy is kicking off his young political movement with three main objectives. The first is to sign people up to host Dunwoody City Council candidates as speakers for their neighborhood groups. He is also inviting like-minded people to march with him under the Tea Party banner in the Dunwoody Fourth of July parade. Lastly, he hopes to encourage people to vote “no” on the parks bond referendum and vote for conservative mayor and City Council members in November.
Julianne Thompson, state coordinator of Tea Party Patriots of Georgia, said the organization welcomes new chapters.
“It is absolutely imperative that people either start Tea Party groups on a local level or join one,” Thompson said. “Every time someone begins a new one … the better it is for the statewide organization and nationwide organization.
Thompson said the Tea Party is a bottom up organization that depends on people at the ground level.
“It helps with organizing on the local level which is crucial when it comes to winning elections and lobbying for legislation and against certain legislation,” she said.
Leahy said his organization is very loose, with no regular meetings or membership dues.
“It’s all philosophical,” Leahy said.
He is still working to build interest. The Dunwoody Tea Party is now registered on the Tea Party’s website and Leahy said he has been contacted by some interesting folks.
“I got three emails from a guy who’s a conspiracy theorist. And I ran into a guy who wanted to build casinos and legalize marijuana to make revenue,” Leahy said.
But Leahy is excited about the possibilities of the party.
“This is the boots on the ground, grassroots level,” he said.