Left to right, Dunwoody City Council candidates Henley Shelton, Denis Shortal, William A.J. Mercier, Jim Riticher and Heyward Wescott appear at a candidates forum Oct. 17 at Dunwoody High School.

Divisions in Dunwoody dominated the discussion during a forum Oct. 17 for Dunwoody City Council candidates.

“There seems to be a little tension in city government right now,” candidate William A.J. Mercier, who is running for Post 2 in District 2, said, drawing laughter from many of the 300 or so people gathered at Dunwoody High School to hear from seven of the eight candidates seeking seats on the council. David Davis, who is running for Post 1 in District 1, did not appear onstage.

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association was one of the sponsors of the forum. DHA President Stacey Harris announced the group plan to post video of the event on the DHA website.

The audience reflected divisions in the city over the direction of city government. One group applauded remarks from some candidates that were critical of current city policies. Another group applauded statements that showed support for the city projects.

The audience posed no questions directly the candidates. All questions were submitted in advance and read by a moderator. Audience members sat and listened respectfully to the candidates’ answers.

Three candidates who call themselves the “Clean Sweep” candidates and announced their campaigns as a slate – Henley Shelton for Post 1 in District 1; Jim Riticher  for Post 2 in District 2; and Sam Eads for Post 3 in District 3 – repeated described Dunwoody’s government as out of touch with residents.

“If you’re not satisfied and think [city government] could be better, then your choice is right here,” Shelton, one of the ‘Clean Sweep’ candidates, told the crowd.

“We’ve got to have a council that listens to the people on the front end of projects,” Riticher said. “We’re not getting it right right now and that needs to change.”

Heyward Wescott, who seeks the Post 2 seat in District 2, said that although he is running for the council for the first time, he had been described as “an insider.” He welcomed the label, he said, because it showed he had been involved in community groups and issues. “I’m proud I am an insider,” he said.

Incumbent Councilmen Denis Shortal, seeking re-election to Post 1 in District 1, and Doug Thompson, seeking re-election to Post 3 in District 3, defended their records on the council. “I have done what I told you I would do when I was elected,” Shortal said.

“I want everything to be great in this city,” Thompson said. “I think it’s wonderful. To the extent we have a problem, let’s solve it. … What concerns me is when people try to tear down the city. I don’t get it.”

But his opponent, Eads, said, “I believe our current council is out of touch with the citizens.”

Dunwoody City Council Post 3, District 3, candidates Sam Eads and Doug Thompson appeared at the Dunwoody Homeowners Association-sponsored forum at Dunwoody High School on Oct. 17.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.