A little over 4-1/2 years ago, I was appointed to the Snellville Planning Commission. At the time I was a newcomer to municipal volunteer work and had never previously met any of the City Council members. In fact, I met then-mayor Jerry Oberholtzer for the first time when I attended the meeting at which the City Council was going to vote on my nomination.
Shortly after my appointment, Barbara Bender and Tod Warner, who were then Council members, introduced themselves to me. A month or so after that, Tom Witts attended a Planning Commission meeting and introduced himself to me and the other members of the Commission. He was not yet a member of the Council and had stopped by to inform us he was running for office.
At the time, I was unaware of the history of individual Council members and of their allegiances. It didn’t seem to matter because the Planning Commission is non-political (in theory) and frankly, I didn’t much care about politics. As a Commission member, my job was to evaluate zoning applications and recommend for or against those applications based on the City’s Code of Ordinances.
After a few meetings, I noticed a distinct pattern; some members of the Council regularly attended Planning Commission meetings, others didn’t. And invariably after the meetings, Tod Warner, Barbara Bender and Tom Witts would converse with members of the audience as well as Commission members. From the conversations, it was obvious they were seeking more information about whatever had been discussed, so that they would be better informed when the issue came before the Council.
For the entire two years that I was on the Planning Commission, neither Kelly Kautz nor Mike Sabbagh ever said a single word to me. I also found that their conversations with other members of the Commission were limited, if they existed at all. That seemed strange because Planning Commission members can provide a wealth of information that enables Council members to make more informed decisions.
While this experience may seem to have little to do with the current election, it does in fact provide a valuable insight into the reasons that I support Barbara Bender, Bobby Howard and Tom Witts. As a Planning Commission member and later as a City Council member, I have seen first hand their dedication to doing what is in the best interests of city residents. On the other hand, I have also seen first hand what I can only describe as the self-serving and unethical practices of Kautz, Sabbagh, and the people they support.
Some people will falsely claim, “Emanuel a long-time friend of Bender, Howard and Witts and he’s just trying to make Kautz and her people look bad”. Considering that my oldest personal contact with any Council member occurred barely over four years ago, I don’t think any of these relationships qualify as long term. In fact, Tom Witts and Barbara Bender were little more than casual acquaintances until 2011, when I got more involved with Snellville activities and decided to run for Council. And I didn’t meet Bobby Howard until 2011.
I aligned myself with specific Council members, not because I whole-heartedly agree with them, (I often don’t) but because they are honest and open and truly care about the City and doing what is right. That was obvious as I observed how each Council member responded to Planning Commission decisions. It was also obvious that Kautz and Sabbagh appeared to have their own personal agendas and either didn’t know or didn’t care about serving the best interests of the citizens.
I think that observation is reinforced by the highly negative campaign flyers that are being sent out by Harrison, Boykin and Sabbagh. It seems that this group, having no record to stand on nor any vision for the future, has based its entire campaign on false information and personal attacks. Should any of them get elected, residents of Snellville can expect more false accusations and a degradation of Council operation.
Regardless of the outcome of this election, I will continue to put the best interests of our City first. And I will continue to speak out when I see dishonest and unethical behavior. Serving the bests interests of our citizens and reducing or eliminating the negative publicity that results from improper behavior will be much easier if honest, responsible candidates are elected. So I urge you to vote for Barbara Bender, Bobby Howard and Tom Witts.
As always, I invite anyone with questions or comments to contact me at 770/262-2115.