The city of Dunwoody just finished another city election, and residents selected representatives to occupy the three City Council seats up for election this year.
I congratulate all of the candidates who ran for office. Win or lose, running a campaign is hard work. I personally know the election and campaign process is one which takes tremendous effort, drive and energy to undertake. I’d like to thank each of the candidates for their contributions and for working to create a better Dunwoody.
I believe that by re-electing two incumbents and adding a new member to council this election has shown we are headed in the right direction, but we have more work to do.
Over the past 10 months and throughout the election cycle, many residents have made their voices heard on a number of projects and issues. Some of the issues and planned projects have brought varied levels of both support and resistance, which we as a City Council must listen to and address.
As city leaders, we must take the opportunity to continue our efforts at engagement, and broaden our set of outreach and communications tools. What we want to encourage is interest in, and attendance at, our various public meetings and open assemblies to foster a better understanding of the kinds of projects and decisions being put forward.
A perfect example of engaging ideas and discussion with the public around a project was realized in creating the new Georgetown Park. The city held public meetings, which not only amassed the various ideas and needs of what residents wanted from the new park, but those discussions guided the design and amenities which the park would contain when complete.
I realize a zoning code meeting (as compared to a brainstorming meeting around a new city park) may not appeal to every resident, as was evident by the dozen or so committed attendees who took part in the zoning code rewrite process. But it’s these types of opportunities the city will continue to host and promote which bring citizens to the table and help collectively structure a vision for a better Dunwoody.
I don’t believe any city always reaches a complete consensus on direction of future projects or developments. Each citizen has their own opinion, and hopefully through ongoing participation in public meetings and town halls, residents can better understand what’s being created or implemented. The opinions of the public were expressed in the voting booths and should continue to be expressed to the elected representatives who are charged with the responsibility of bringing community needs and desires to reality.
Participatory engagement is part of the reason the city has continued to put forth efforts for increased public involvement. These efforts are found in initiatives such as the 2013 Citizen Pulse survey, multiple project open house events, email news alerts reaching more than 10,000 subscribers, site tours, information booths at community events, and more.
To further the opportunity for listening and engagement, we’ve established plans to conduct quarterly Town Hall events so we may expand and promote ongoing dialogue with residents.
What’s clear moving forward is that citizens have re-elected two incumbents and brought in a new council representative where a seat was being vacated. What’s also clear is now that the voters have spoken, it’s time to continue our focus as an elected body and set our efforts to the work at hand.
We’ve got a better Dunwoody to create, and with the input and guidance from its citizens, it will be a great place for everyone.
Mike Davis is the mayor of Dunwoody.