Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dunwoody Elections 2011 - Rick Callihan

Next up, Mr. Rick Callihan, also running for District 1 at-large.  His campaign website is at

1)    What one qualification do you have for elected office that exceeds those of your opponents?
I started my own business, from scratch, and then grew that business to become an industry leader.  The skills used to start and grow a business are similar to the skills needed to make decisions for a city: proper planning, disciplined spending, excellent service, and a great product.
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?

The city should create a new overlay district for the Perimeter area, allowing the PCID to have its own sign ordinance.  And of course, the city should not be buying property zoned O & I.  Our Economic Development Director needs all the tools he can get.  It does not make sense to convert prime real estate to green space. 

3)    What was the City’s best business decision to date?  (Any level or department, since operations started.)
Instead of directly hiring employees, I am glad the city opted to follow, to a degree, the Sandy Springs model of contracting with different companies to provide city services. 

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 should not have taken over the stormwater system from DeKalb.  In years to come this has the potential to be as expensive as our police department on an annual basis.  The taxpayers in Dunwoody will see the stormwater fee on their tax bill rise steadily year after year.  I would have kept the stormwater system in the hands of DeKalb, and made sure they kept up with repairs as needed. 
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?
I want to see people dedicated to the success of our city, and I will seek out people with real-world experience they can bring to committees.  I also feel all committee members should be residents of Dunwoody or owner/manager of a business in Dunwoody. 

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

7)    Which City department or commission do you feel is underserved and needs more attention in terms of funding and other resources (including personnel)?
Code enforcement.  We have one guy responsible for inspecting apartments, removing illegal signs, and general code enforcement.  If elected to council, I would suggest adding at least one more full-time person to code enforcement. 

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?
The Chamber has its own mission, as does the city.  The city’s Economic Development Department needs to focus on bringing jobs to the city.  Once here, the Chamber plays a key role in helping new (and existing) businesses get involved in city events.  The Chamber can play a pivotal role, using current members to help develop leads for the Development director. 

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?
Managing a business, I deal with major industry distributors, and I deal with the end-user of the company’s products.  Both need treated with respect.  Major issues need directed to the appropriate city department.  In these departments we have experts that help council determine the next step.  There are countless situations in regards to contact between residents and council members, and each need handled differently.  There can be no set policy as to what does and does not get brought before council.  As a small city, we can handle individually with all requests. 

10) Open Mike Question:  Make any statement you like on what issue or action will be most important to you as an elected official.
I am opposed to the urbanization of the Perimeter area.  I am also opposed to Transit Oriented Developments that have Federal set-asides for low income housing.  We need a council that will defend the homeowner, yet work with the PCID on job growth. I believe it is in the best long term interest of Dunwoody to maintain the current ratio of jobs to housing units in the PCID. 

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