Tochie Blad

Candidate for Sandy Springs City Council, District 4


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1) What are three issues affecting your district that you would tackle as a councilmember?

Tochie Blad

Open Checkbook: Every citizen has a right to know how tax dollars are being spent. That’s why I will support an online open checkbook system for Sandy Springs that will make it as easy to see how the city is spending our money as it is to check your online banking.  

Inclusion: I supported asking the voters to approve term limits for both mayor and city council (limit of three consecutive terms) in the Minority Report on the Charter Review Commission as co-chair. Both survey and public comment from citizens support term limits for more people to participate in local government.  

Safe Neighborhoods: We can prevent crime by investing in proven-to-work, cost-effective programs like the police alternatives and diversion model that assigns trained mental health professionals to work in partnership with law enforcement to deal with mental health crises as well as providing resources to assist victims of domestic violence.

2) How would you encourage more housing diversity and affordability in Sandy Springs, especially for city workers and others who can’t afford to live where they work? 

We must work together to support diverse housing options that allow young families, seniors, and essential workers, like our teachers, firefighters, police officers and nurses to live in the community they serve. On city council, I will fight for solutions, including tax protections and incentives, that support healthy affordable housing options for Sandy Springs.

3) How would you encourage development in Sandy Springs such as the city’s North End, while balancing issues of displacement for lower-income residents?

I support smart economic development. The North End Redevelopment Committee proposed converting retail sites into residential communities. I support the concept of remaking retail into a residential development to meet a variety of housing needs.

4) How would you work to improve equity and diversity in Sandy Springs? 

One of the best ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion is to make sure those who work in Sandy Springs, including our teachers, first responders and healthcare workers, can also afford to live here. We cannot claim to be pro-inclusion if we do not prioritize diverse, healthy, affordable housing options. I also look forward to the recommendations of the Mayor’s Diversity Inclusion Task Force regarding other ways to broaden inclusion in city affairs. I support transparency in local government to make it easy for citizens to be involved and term limits for council and the mayor to open the door to service for more of our neighbors. 

I also support the proposed Cultural Arts Center reflecting our diverse population and promoting justice for all by featuring multi-exhibit Holocaust Museum. This is a good example of outreach and private public partnership with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. Finally, because Sandy Springs is now a large employer, with more than 500 employees, we should adopt policies to support diversity and inclusion in our workforce.

5) If city finances were to decline, would you consider a tax hike or would you rather cut city services and programs?   

It’s clear that Sandy Springs has more than enough tax revenue. Since 2016, property tax collections have risen by $12 million dollars because the current council has refused to roll back the millage rate to off-set rising valuations – a backdoor tax that impacts every resident and business. On city council, I will insist that our local government stop backdoor taxes and live within our budget. I will fight to cut waste and focus on efficiency instead of asking hardworking families to pay more.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.