The ballot for City Council includes six names of people running for three seats, giving voters in each city district a choice when they head to the polls on Nov. 7.
Incumbent City Councilmember Pam Tallmadge of Post/District 1 is facing opposition from longtime city activist Joe Hirsch. Incumbent City Councilmember Jim Riticher of Post/District 2 faces opposition from political newcomer Robert “Bobby” Zuckman.
City Councilmember Doug Thompson is retiring this year and two people are vying for the Post/District 3 seat he’s held. Tom Lambert, who was active in incorporating Dunwoody as a city, and political newcomer Henry H. Bierenfeld square off in District 3.
Qualifying ended Aug. 25 and Zuckman, Biernfeld and Lambert attended the Aug. 28 City Council meeting. Bierenfeld introduced himself to Lambert, who has been attending meetings for several months, and both candidates said they looked forward to a good race.
Tallmadge vs. Hirsch
Incumbent Tallmadge, executive assistant for the Charter System Foundation, a nonprofit group advocating for charter schools, represents Post/District 1, which includes Dunwoody Village and neighborhoods to its north.
Tallmadge was elected in 2015 after running unopposed for the seat vacated by Denis Shortal, who resigned the post to run for mayor.
A key organizer of the city’s annual Fourth of July Parade, Tallmadge said she is running for what would be her first full term because she wants to see several projects through, including the building of the new Austin Elementary School and the new baseball fields at Brook Run Park.
She states she is pro-business and supports small business growth and is also an advocate for the city’s parks.
Challenger Joe Hirsch says he supports an independent school district for the city and also is campaigning on fiscal responsibility, enforcement of city codes and more government transparency.
Hirsch, a member of the board of directors of VOX Teen Communication, gained notoriety in 2012 when he sued the city in federal court claiming the city violated his First Amendment rights when the Public Works Department denied his application to put up a sign that insulted the Public Works director. Hirsch wanted his sign, which read “Dunwoody’s Public Works Director Michael Smith is a $#%@,” to be installed as part of the city’s Adopt-A-Spot program. The city settled with Hirsch for more than $8,000 and allowed him to post a sign with different wording.
“Too many rules and regulations seem to be written for selective enforcement, or as if we are a glorified neighborhood association,” Hirsch states on his website. “Dunwoody has a population near 50,000 residents and includes the economic powerhouse of Perimeter Center. We need leadership with a critical mind and a sharp sense of understanding.”
Riticher vs. Zuckman
Riticher won the Post/District 2 seat in 2013 when he ran as a “clean sweep” candidate determined to change the direction of city government.
He said he is seeking a second term to follow through on projects begun during his first term, such as the renovation of the new City Hall slated to open next year. He also wants to continue a focus on paving roads.
He touts his career in engineering, IT management and consulting as bringing “useful skills” on the council when it comes to construction and development projects and also to zoning issues. He supports Dunwoody creating an independent school district and keeping taxes low.
Zuckman has lived in Dunwoody for about two years, after living in Brookhaven for more than 20 years. He said after watching Brookhaven become a city, he knew he would want to take an active role in his new home city.
Zuckman said he wants to help the city come up with an “overall vision and cohesive plan” to attract the “right kind of individuals and right kind of companies” to Dunwoody.
“A lot more people are moving to the suburbs … and Dunwoody is in a unique position to take advantage of growth and not be a transitional area,” he said.
Zuckman said he also wants to focus on making Dunwoody a more bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-friendly city and adding more green space. Transparency of city government is an important issue, he said, as is finding ways to communicate what is happening in the city to residents to make sure the city is “meeting the needs of all our citizens.”
Zuckman also said he threw his hat into the ring because he said he believes competition is good for every candidate.
Lambert vs. Bierenfeld
The Post/District 3 seat represents East Dunwoody, including Winters Chapel Road, which straddles Peachtree Corners.
Incumbent Thompson has said this area has not received the attention paid to other areas, such as Dunwoody Village or Perimeter Center, and recently conducted a walking tour of a stretch of the road to highlight safety issues for pedestrians. On the tour he revived talks of two of the city’s most controversial proposals: redeveloping some apartments into a sports complex and building a trail along the Georgia Power Co.’s electric line right of way.
Lambert took part in the walking tour and has promised to follow through on Thompson’s vision for the area.
Lambert also is focusing in his bid for office on traffic, education, transportation, parks and recreation and public safety. Renovations and additions to Brook Run Park are a top priority, he said. He said he wants to serve on the council to help create a vision for the next 10 years of Dunwoody.
Bierenfeld has lived in Dunwoody for 47 years and manages the food and beverage department at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where he has worked for 15 years, he said.
A first-time candidate, he said he decided to run for office “because every candidate needs an opponent.”
Bierenfeld said the one-year anniversary of his father’s death also inspired him to run for office because his dad was an active voter. Issues he said he’s concerned about essentially echo those of the other candidates — traffic, education, and funding the new parks master plan.
“I’ve been interested in local politics for some time and now is the opportunity for me to make a difference,” he said.