Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick.

Occupation: I have been with the City of Norcross for 14 years in the Community Development Department. I currently am the Senior Planner.

Previous elected offices held: City of Doraville, where I served eight years as a councilman. I also served as mayor pro tem.

Other community service experience: I as served President and Vice-President of the DeKalb Municipal Association. I also  participated in the Chamblee/Doraville Buford Highway Livable Centers Initiative and supported the creation of the Chamblee/Doraville CID and the creation of the Assembly CID, and I have participated in neighborhood cleanups and community tree-planting events. I also attend All Saints Catholic Church.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

First, I am concerned about the future of DeKalb County. According to the ARC growth projections, DeKalb falls behind Gwinnett and Cobb counties in population growth. That means DeKalb falls to fourth place for jobs for our residents, housing options and property values, and in opportunities for our residents and overall desirability of our community. The second factor is our aging infrastructure, which is holding back private investments that should be made in our communities. It’s difficult to encourage new residents, businesses and development to call DeKalb home when we have infrastructure that doesn’t meet the needs of our time.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

The biggest issues are the problems with aging infrastructure as well as collaboration between the county and the municipalities. I will address the transportation, water and sewer infrastructure issues by working with commissioners to make the necessary repairs and upgrades a priority.  I will work with property owners, neighborhood associations and community improvement districts to coordinate county improvements with redevelopment opportunities.  Regarding collaboration between the county and the municipalities, I believe each has strengths and weaknesses in the services they provide. By working together, we can minimize the service overlaps and gaps while improving our residents satisfaction in our communities.

Why should voters choose you instead of the incumbent?

The realities of DeKalb County will require leadership across budgeting, economic development, community safety and health; welcoming and equity concerns for our diverse and aging communities; access to housing and transportation options; and educational needs that provide our residents with the skills needed to improve their lives and bring growth to DeKalb County for future generations. We cannot afford another four years of divisive leadership from the incumbent. I have over 20 years of service to the community I live in and the community I work in and I believe my experience is ideal for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

What would be your policy priority in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic?

I have a multi-pronged approach to get us through the COVID-19 economy. I will continue to encourage people to follow safe practices, such as wearing a mask, continuing social distancing, washing hands and getting the flu vaccine to avoid a double infection. I will work on streamlining our business license process, particularly for small businesses and restaurants, to help them open faster. Finally, I will work to protect our residents from the potential wave of evictions due to job losses.

What policy changes, if any, should result from this year’s protests about racism and police brutality?

I will advocate for greater ongoing sensitivity, de-escalation and anti-racism training. I will work to create more incentives for police to live in DeKalb County to better understand and build stronger relationships within the community. Strictly enforce the wearing of body cameras. Strongly enforce a zero-tolerance mandate when it comes to any forms of discrimination. I will confirm our hiring practices do not include hiring officers that were fired/terminated from other police departments if it was based on any form of discrimination, threats, stalking and/or violence towards the residence they were hired to serve.

What is an example of an area where the county and local cities are working well together, and what is an example of an area that needs improvement?

DeKalb County has done a relatively good job of working together during the COVID-19 crisis.  The cities have finally been approved to receive their share of the CARES Act funds, which is needed desperately. I will work to end the divisiveness between the county and cities. Having served on a city council, I will bring a unique understanding and balance of the desires of cities and county by working strategically together. I will partner with the cities in my district while also being a strong voice and providing stellar service for areas that are not incorporated.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.