Monday, October 10, 2011

Dunwoody Election 2011 - Terry Nall

Mr. Terry Nall was the first to reply to my survey of candidates below.  Terry is running for District 1 at-large (city-wide vote) and his campaign website can be found at
Thank you Terry and with no further ado, here are his answers, unedited:

1) What one qualification do you have for elected office that exceeds those of your opponents?

I will be the only active CPA serving on City Council. I bring conservative, comprehensive financial expertise to City Council and a belief that needs must come before wants.”

2) The City’s Economic Development Department’s stated purpose is “The City of Dunwoody Economic Development Director is responsible for leading efforts to retain, expand and attract businesses that support a broad array of employment opportunities; strategically grow its knowledge-based economy; and expand the City’s tax base.” What should be this department’s next priority task to accomplish this purpose?

I recommend the next priority task is to build, train, and grow a volunteer “ambassadors” program to assist with economic development tasks. See question #8 below.
3) What was the City’s best business decision to date? (Any level or department, since operations started.)

This is a tie. On the personnel front, the City’s best business decision to date is the hiring of Sharon Lowery as City Clerk and Chris Pike as Finance Director. Both are extremely experienced and well-qualified for their respective positions.

On the public works front, the City’s best business decision is to evaluate the condition of its roads via laser truck and inventory the condition of the storm sewer drains. Both infrastructures are liabilities that were inherited from DeKalb County and the evaluations provide elected leaders with proper information for establishing funding priorities.

4) What was one business decision made by the City (at any level, since operations started) that should not have been made? If you were given the chance, what would you have recommended be done differently?

The city recently made a significant (in my opinion) mistake in its Request for Proposal process to secure city services vendor contracts for 2012 and beyond. The procedures of the RFP for Publics Works and Parks Departments were openly admitted by the City Manager as not followed properly. The error was publicly known, yet my opponent on the evaluation committee wanted to award the two problem contracts regardless, according to emails obtained. Others on Council prevailed and authorized a rebid of the RFP. However, Council did not replace the evaluation committee members. I would have recommended a change of membership for the evaluation committee for the rebid process. Dunwoody is recognized as a City of Ethics and we must live up to it.

5) As a member of City Council, you will be able to appoint or recommend members of various commissions. Besides an interest in the subject, and a desire to serve, what qualifications do you want to see in a potential commission member?

Beyond the obvious items mentioned in the question, I would like to see a passion for Dunwoody, a demonstrated history of collaboration in working with multiple members of committees or community projects, and a record of good attendance and participation while working on committees or projects.

6) Which City department or commission (besides the Police) is the most critically important in developing the future of Dunwoody?

The Community Development Department and its associated boards of Community Council, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals, is the most critical to developing Dunwoody’s future. The planned total re-write of the Zoning Code, coupled with a future turnaround in the economy, will affect development projects that could set the course of Dunwoody for decades to come.

7) Which City department or commission do you feel is underserved and needs more attention in terms of funding and other resources (including personnel)?

Public Works is underfunded at its current levels. Though some progress has been made on repaving of roads, the progress remains sluggish and other needs, such as redesign of bottleneck intersections and computerized synchronization of all city traffic lights, remain unfunded despite having had three years of annual surpluses.

8) In what ways should the City and Chamber of Commerce (or any other private entity) collaborate and in what ways should they be working separately to grow the City’s economic base?

In a collaborative “joint” fashion, the City and Chamber of Commerce can help retain existing businesses and recruit new businesses to Dunwoody. To be successful in either area, the community needs well-trained “ambassadors” who live and/or work in Dunwoody and would sell and resell businesses on the merits of Dunwoody as a superb location for employees and senior executive families to work and live during “location scouting” visits. The confidential introduction of ambassadors to these businesses could extend to assimilating newly relocated employees to Dunwoody into the fabric of our community. Similar to how volunteer police reserves will supplement a police department, volunteer ambassadors could supplement an economic development department.

In a separate fashion, but with collaboration and cooperation when needed, the City and Chamber of Commerce could provide a number of Leadership Dunwoody and Opportunity Dunwoody programs. “Leadership Dunwoody” would help broaden established community leaders across Dunwoody for the expanded benefit of charities, schools, churches, and government service. “Opportunity Dunwoody” would work with newer arrivals to Dunwoody who were community leaders in their prior communities in an effort to acclimate and integrate them into the many community service opportunities available in Dunwoody.

9) Elected officials are constantly contacted with requests to have specific issues addressed by local citizens. If elected, how will you prioritize what issues get on the Council agenda, what will get further private discussion, and what will be tabled?

I have experience with a number of multi-person governance bodies. The best method of dealing with issues raised is to socialize the presented issues “one-on-one” with other Council members. Issues should not be raised for the first time at a formal meeting without the prior knowledge or involvement of others who would be involved in the decision. This pre-meeting work determines whether there is broader support for the issue from others, what other information is needed about the issue for others to make an informed decision, and helps identify any inadvertent, unintended consequences of the issue. This is called consensus-building and is needed by others on Council.

10) Open Mike Question: Make any statement you like on what issue or action will be most important to you as an elected official.

A key principle during my term will be to “maintain a small, efficient, disciplined government with accountability.” Government serves a limited purpose and we should stick to our priorities of needs first. We also need accountability. We’re no longer a start-up and we have well-paid, experienced staff in place. Certainly no one is perfect, but we need Council members to not be afraid to ask the tough questions when things go wrong. I am that person and that CPA.


Brent M said...

Good questions and great responses. Terry should do well!

Anonymous said...

Great answers! Finally a politician that answers the questions asked of him.