Q&A's with Roswell City Council Post 1 candidates

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Roswell City Council Post 1 A special Q&A from Appen Media featuring the four candidates running for Roswell’s open seat Read more, Pages 2 - 13


2 | October 6, 2022 | Alpharetta-Roswell Herald | AppenMedia.com/RoswellElection

CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election

POST 1 CANDIDATE Q&A

SARAH BEESON

Q: Can you tell us more about yourself and what that brings to the voters? A: I was raised in Roswell for the most part. We moved there when I was 9 years old. I went to Mountain Park Elementary. I currently run a small business. We have about 50 employees, based in Roswell. We’ve been in historic Roswell, specifically, since 2005. But we’ve been in Roswell since 1998. I work alongside my family. We do environmental and geotechnical engineering consulting. I work there with my husband as well. We’re also raising two small children together. In addition to working full-time, I also am working towards my doctorate in city planning at the University of Georgia. I’ve served on several organizations’ nonprofit boards across the city, including Roswell Inc and the National Small Business Association. Both of those organizations focus on supporting small businesses, especially here in North Fulton. I’ve also been on the board for Advance Atlanta, which is a transportation-focused board across the metro area, and I was the North Fulton representative. I previously served on the board for Abundant Housing Atlanta, which focuses on affordability and inclusivity for housing.

To our readers Appen Media invited the four candidates running for Roswell City Council Post 1 to record an interview with reporter Chamian Cruz. What follows is a transcript of those question-and-answer sessions. The answers contain modest edits due to space limitations. While some candidates were more concise in their responses than others, every effort was made to apportion space equally. Appen has also made the interviews available to hear, in full, as episodes of the Inside the Box podcast. Listen for free wherever you get your podcasts or by going to appenmedia.com/roswellelection. You can also ask Alexa, Siri or any other smart device to, “play the Inside the Box podcast.” Interview by CHAMIAN CRUZ, Editing by AMBER PERRY and PAT FOX Q: A big topic in Roswell right now is the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing. The mayor and City Council have made it clear they do not want to see any more construction of new apartments in Roswell unless they are part of a mixed-use development. What role, if any, should local government have in promoting or restricting affordable housing, which may include multifamily housing? A: I see the city planning side, and then I see the small business side and the

way that you impact your local economy. I understand the hesitation from some residents of being concerned about over-development and wanting to make sure that our city is able to accommodate any level of growth. One of the reasons why I initially pushed back on this is exactly to your point about affordability and making sure that our city is able to accommodate and be inclusive of our residents that we currently have. I do have an environmental background. The way I look at it: If you’re

looking at biodiversity, it’s indicative of a healthy environment. Same diversity applies to a city. If we’re going to lose that socioeconomic diversity and diversity in many other ways, it’s going to have a negative outcome right here in Roswell. In terms of if I think our city government has an impact on that, absolutely. I think it’s something that city government can do — a lot of things in terms of smart city planning, smart land use policies, a more improved unified development code. If folks don’t want to see more multifamily complexes in East Roswell, rezone East Roswell. Then, we can expand it in other areas to break up some of our areas that are more commercial, and make sure that we’re more inclusive of housing in those areas to try to support those businesses. Q: Roswell is a very diverse community. But, in April, a number of Roswell residents pointed to possible racial bias in the City Council’s new apartment ban and asked about the status of the racial impact assessment, an idea that was tossed around in 2020. The assessment would be part of the city’s comprehen-

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CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election•

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Beeson:

a back-and-forth or feeling like you were considering our comments. To me, that’s indicative of having some sort of backdoor discussion or this was previously commented on outside of public purview. That makes me, as a resident, as someone who’s very attuned to accountability and transparency, that makes me nervous.

From previous page sive plan and include a full-scale examination process that is focused on staving off racial inequalities, particularly when it comes to zoning and land use regulations. Would you support the city completing the racial impact assessment? A: That was implemented at the end of 2020 under former Mayor Lori Henry. It was approved by several council members that are currently on council with the understanding that with the racial equity impact assessment, we could have a third-party consultant that we were contracting with to determine our land use policies and our zoning policies and how that’s going to have an impact. For those who don’t know historically, land use and zoning has been indicative of racial inequalities. Redlining is one of the big things that comes to mind. But, also, generational wealth that’s passed down through purchasing of housing, the ability to access a down payment for a mortgage, even having a mortgage. [To] have a keen mind when approaching our different changes to the UDC (Unified Development Code) is something that we need to be aware of and having that third party make those assessments will be incredibly helpful. If you look at the majority of our residents who are multi-family residents, they typically are Black or Latino residents. So, it would beg the question as to how re-zoning certain areas or limiting certain types of housing is going to impact the diversity of Roswell. Roswell has increased in diversity over the years, and that’s something that I love. I remember what it was like being the one brown kid in my elementary school class — and to have children now who are racially mixed be able to grow up in an environment where they can see folks who look like them and also be around folks who don’t look like them, get to know people who maybe have a different background or different culture than you. I think that’s incredibly helpful to what makes the community thrive. Q: In 2020, the East Roswell Economic Action Committee presented its final report. It includes recommendations on how to better promote economic development in this area. How would you decide whether to begin tackling the recommended improvements and how to fund them, along with having other additional and new priorities? A: People underestimate how many residents are in East Roswell. We have 40,000 residents from Warsaw Road over to the edge of East Roswell heading towards Gwinnett County. They’re not necessarily getting the same amount of resources that we’re getting on the west-

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Candidate Sarah Beeson, left, fields questions from the Herald’s Chamian Cruz. ern side of Roswell. I mean that in terms of resources, not only in terms of having access to office buildings, right? It’s very residentially focused. And, then what commercial areas we do have — we’re starting to see those fade away. When they did their assessment, one of the key points that they had made that I thought was interesting was their parks. The recommendation according to the report for Roswell’s Parks and Recreation Program is that there should be 1 acre of park property for every 1,000 residents. We’re roughly 50 acres short in terms of where we need to be in East Roswell to have parity with the west side for how much park land we have. I make the point about park land in relation to businesses because those are community places. These are areas where you have residents gather, and the parks that we do have in the east are kind of enclosed among themselves. Some of the recommendations that they had was trying to support large business growth in addition to small business growth and giving some of these areas more community-oriented approaches. That’s something I’d love to see more of — I mean, the way that we’re able to come together as a community and see each other. Q: What role do you see transparency playing in how the City Council operates? A: Transparency is crucial. That’s been a point of frustration on my end. Earlier this year … an agenda item that was introduced, heading into the weekend, five o’clock on a Friday, that they were going to be changing our city’s charter. A charter is the document that dictates how your city functions. Most of the changes came out of how mayor and council function. These are big changes, right? This was done without any work committee session. I forewent my Valentine’s Day dinner and showed up to the council meeting along with many other concerned residents, questioning why this process [was] being implemented without community input. The only time that we

were given to comment on was at that meeting. To mayor and council’s credit, they took that feedback and said that they’re going to definitely table the topic. But my question was, why was the apology more widely broadcast than changes? Why was there not a charter committee to talk about these changes? We’ve had 20 residents, on one item, comment. Everyone’s saying, “I’m against, I’m against, I’m against.” Then it goes back, and they vote as a block unanimously, “Yes.” So, I’m feeling on my end—I’ve sat here for a five-hour meeting on a super uncomfortable wooden pew. We have 20 other people who agreed with me, and it wasn’t even

Q: Where would you like to see more taxpayer money allocated? A: Evergreen is being able to support public safety… not only supporting our fire departments and being allocated where they need to be or police facilities — I need to see more infrastructure here in the city. That’s something that we’re starting to see deteriorate at a faster rate because we haven’t been staying on top of that in Roswell. If we want to be competitive as a city and for where people want to live, work and play, we need to support areas where they live, work and play. One of the concerns I had was Leita Thompson Park. There are low-income housing units in that park that are not done through Roswell Housing Authority, which is a separate entity from the City of Roswell. Those units are funded through Roswell Parks and Rec because it’s inside a park. When Leita Thompson passed away and left her park property to the City of Roswell, a requirement was to maintain those living units for mostly

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Beeson: From previous page women, mostly elderly. Some have lived there for decades, and it’s low-income housing for them on fixed income. In December, there was a report that came out that showed that the parks program said, “Well, it’s getting too high for us to maintain for our budget, and we have a demand for pottery classes, and we want pottery classes in there.” When we’re prioritizing amenities over residents, that to me is a concern, especially when it’s something that we already have. Q: Roswell City Council often talks about what the City of Alpharetta does right and what can be done in Roswell to be more like Alpharetta. Is this the right approach? Or what can Roswell do differently using its own unique resources and characteristics to be successful? A: We’re comparing apples and oranges a lot of times. I would say both geographically and in terms of population, Alpharetta is roughly two thirds of what Roswell is. Anytime these criticisms come up, it’s, “Oh, we want to do it the way that Alpharetta does it.” And they do it from just skimming the surface. Roswell has an identity crisis right now, in terms of trying to decide what it wants to be. It wants to be Alpharetta in one way. To Alpharetta’s credit, they know what they want to do. At the same time, it’s realizing that we have certain resources that Alpharetta doesn’t have. We have the most river frontage property in the metropolitan area. We don’t play to that at all. We also have a significantly larger population. We have areas where we can easily develop more businesses. We need to play to our strengths and understand what our strengths are and know where we

CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election

want to go in order to get there. Q: Longtime Roswell residents take a lot of pride in being here for so long or growing up here. How long have you been here? And how is that an advantage? A: I’ve lived here through every phase of my life. I’ve not lived here the entire time. When I purchased my first home, I couldn’t afford to live here in Roswell. I lived just over the line in Cherokee County on Cox Road. I had to make some very pointed decisions to be able to move back in, back at the time when we were in the middle of the housing crisis. These are circumstances that most people my age, who are in their 30s, would not be able to replicate. I think having that perspective of how many planets aligning, shooting star moments that I was able to have as a young person to move back into my hometown gives me a perspective that I know no other candidate is going to have. I had to fight to be here. Beyond living here for about 19 years in total, I’ve seen the city through every phase. The running joke is, “When I was here, it was horse farms.” And honestly it was. I grew up in Brookfield, and that Target shopping center was literally a horse farm. Publix was a horse farm. It was all horse farms. But, we also got to see growing diversity. I have neighbors who are Black, Latino, Jewish, folks who are European immigrants. I love being able to be in a community like that. To be able to see the diversity, not only of residents, but of businesses as well. I came here. I grew up here. I’m continuing to grow here. And that’s an investment that I like to see all the way through. Q: What’s the best way for residents to learn more about you and your platform or campaign? A: Check out votebeeson.com. You can reach out to me on there.

POST 1 CANDIDATE Q&A

JASON MILLER

Candidate Jason Miller is a Roswell small business owner. Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what that brings to the voters? A: At the end of the day, my campaign is simple. It’s about making our government streamlined. It’s about really making sure we’re doing the right things at the city government level. I’m a small business owner here in Roswell. I’ve lived here for two years, have had my business here based out of Roswell for the last eight years. And, what I’m going to bring to the voters is — the clear answer for everyone is transparency. But to go beyond that, it’s really bringing the business acumen of being an entrepreneur and really learning how to get through tough times. We went through the 2008 recession. We’ve gone through a lot. I bring the most experience as far

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as running an entity to the table. Q: A big topic in Roswell right now is the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing. The mayor and City Council have made it clear they do not want to see any more construction of new apartments in Roswell unless they are part of a mixed-use development. What role should local government have in promoting or restricting affordable housing, which may include multifamily housing? A: I do appreciate multifamily housing. I lived in that for a lot of my life, growing up and in college. We have to have that. As far as creating new affordable housing — that’s tough in Roswell. There are

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CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election•

From previous page areas where we can expand what we currently offer. The issue we run into as a city is development cost. The cost of living in Roswell is high, and trying to back into the numbers is very difficult. We need careful development. We need affordable housing. I think what scares most people about affordable housing is who they believe lives there. I don’t think people recognize that it is the people that work in our restaurants. It is the people that work everywhere in our city. They can’t afford to live here. High density is a little bit of a struggle because we have a lot of that already. That’s what half of the east side is. We have more apartments on the east side than there are homes. It’s hard to make mixed-use affordable. But, mixeduse is our best bet because we can give people the opportunity to live, work and play in the same spot, especially with a work from home environment now. If I can work in my home and go downstairs and grab lunch or have a cup of coffee, fantastic. Versus me having to leave my city and lose that tax base. That’s what we don’t want. We want to keep our people here. Q: Do you have any other ideas for how Roswell can address affordable housing? A: We just had the Atlanta Realtors Political Action Committee meeting. It was where the idea came about where we can afford homeownership for folks. If we take the rent back, and we make it a mortgage, and we teach people homeownership, and we teach people what that means, and we teach people HOA (Homeowners Association), and we teach people to take care of an asset. About the time they leave the affordable housing unit, the course by that time — they’re educated on homeownership, their credit’s improved, they’re in a much better place in life than they would have been just by being in somewhere where they’re renting just to survive. I think we could teach that homeownership and bring the economics together. Q: Roswell is a very diverse community. In April, a number of Roswell residents pointed to possible racial bias in the City Council’s new apartment ban and asked about the status of the racial impact assessment, an idea that was tossed around in 2020. The assessment would be part of the city’s comprehensive plan and include a full-scale examination process that focused on staving off racial inequalities, particularly when it comes to zoning and land use regulations. Would you support the city completing and releasing the racial impact assessment?

A: Oh, absolutely. I think any study, any impact assessment that we can do, whether it’s racial, whatever those impact studies are, we have to get those done. Speaking to that, there are a lot of things we could do as a city that we presently outsource. We use a lot of consultants. I understand that there’s a need for consultants. But, if we empower our department heads that we employ, I think we can make much better strides toward overcoming a lot of what’s going on — racial division. We’re a very diverse community. It is amazing. You can go from one end of the city to the other, and you meet people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world. We have to do better at making sure everyone feels included and inclusive. I know that is one of our slogans as a city. We’re a very inclusive and diverse city, which is very true. But, we need to empower that. There’s a lot of ways to do that. Q: Explain your ideal relationship between a city government and its local businesses. A: City government has a duty to attract new businesses and try to attract entrepreneurs, which is one of the reasons why I’m here to begin with. My company was out in Cobb County for a while. There were incentives offered in Roswell at the time, opportunity tax credits, that have since expired. But, those were offered. The city didn’t promote those. I didn’t hear about that from the city. I heard about that from the landlord because they were wanting to rent a space. That was a great program. Cities, especially Roswell, have an obligation to begin trying to bring businesses here. We don’t have a lot of new businesses showing up. Communication, overall — whether that’s through our residents, whether that’s through our businesses — we are terrible at communicating, which is one of the things I want to fix. Riding around Roswell since the campaign and visiting all the parks and seeing all the options that our residents have, adult recreation centers — we didn’t know about those. I’m not sure how many businesses in Roswell are aware of the $500 tax credit that the city is providing. I don’t think the businesses have been communicated to, to let them know that. I thought about how to do that — if we do a newsletter every month, what do we do? Well, 50,000 newsletters every month. So, we’re looking at a $25,000 in postage. That gets to be kind of cost prohibitive, which takes us back to our city mobile app. It could be made better. We could do push notifications. We need to do better promoting that and do better promoting us as a city overall. The city has an obligation for business. We’re talking business. We’re not

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Miller: From previous page talking big business. Ninety percent of our businesses are small businesses. When we say small businesses that are under 10 employees — they are our restaurants, our dry cleaners, all these places that make us function as a society. We tend to forget that. Q: The East Roswell Economic Action Committee presented its final report in 2020. It includes recommendations on how to better promote economic development in this area. How would you decide where to begin tackling the recommended improvements and how to fund them along with having other additional and new priorities? A: We have to make better use of either community improvement districts, CIDs, or TADS, tax allocation districts. If we can get the businesses built around that method, at least on the east side, especially right there at 400 and Holcomb Bridge — that is such a lost opportunity that we’re just squandering. There’s so much available space, whether that be for multi-use, whether that be for businesses moving in, whatever that might be, or convention space, whatever that might be for, there’s such an opportunity. I think if we can combine that mixeduse along with jobs, which is what we’ve got to have. We have the jobs. But, if we can create better paying jobs, things that will keep our people here, that’s what we got to have. Because the last thing we want as a community is our citizens living in Roswell and then going to work in Alpharetta, going to work in Johns Creek, going to work in East Cobb because we lose that tax base. Q: What role do you see transparency playing and how the City Council operates? A: When I started running, that was one of those things I could not understand why, you know — “I’m transparent. I’m transparent” — why that has to be said to begin with is discouraging, at least.

CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election

Just because Alpharetta has a lot of good businesses up there that are technicallyoriented does not mean that we’re not a tech hub.” JASON MILLER I start to pick up on it because I tried to figure out what current council and mayor do that people don’t believe are transparent. There are some things I kind of understand about that. I’m not saying whether that’s intended or not. It’s just either a lack of communication or it’s a lack of knowledge or lack of communicating what the intentions are. What I mean by that is the bonds — the bonds we have coming up. At a City Council meeting, someone had asked a question about why not put on the referendum itself on the ballot about what it cost an average homeowner — “It was already written. We can’t do it. It was already done. It’s a done deal. Everybody should understand what bonds are.” I don’t think that a lot of people do. I think we stopped teaching civics a long time ago. I think most people, when they walk to a ballot box that says, “Do you approve $107 million for recreation and parks?” and we’re like, “Heck yeah,” without even understanding that that’s going to cause an increase in property taxes. I don’t know if that’s intentional. But, that’s where the transparency comes in. That’s where we have to do better. Q: The Roswell City Council often talks about what the City of Alpharetta does right, and what can be done in Roswell to be more like Alpharetta. Is this the right approach? Or, what can Roswell do differently using its own unique resources and characteristics to be successful? A: It goes back to being a kid in my very first job. I was a waiter and you got to set yourself apart, be different. I hear that day-in-day-out, “Sandy Springs does this and Alpharetta does this. And, we’re falling behind.” Well, it’s only be-

cause we’re trying to copy other people. Let’s don’t do that. We have such great natural resources. We have a river below us, and we have the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains right above us. The other day I was at a meeting, and when I said I would like us to be the tech hub, they looked at me and said, “Well, Alpharetta already is that.” Does that matter that someone else already is? We could take the tech title from Alpharetta. Just because Alpharetta has a lot of good businesses up there that are technically-oriented does not mean that we’re not a tech hub. I run a tech company. I can’t find good people to work because we don’t have affordable housing. Or they don’t want to travel so far to come to Roswell. Stop trying to be Alpharetta. Stop trying to be Sandy Springs. Let’s go be Roswell. Q: Longtime Roswell residents take a lot of pride in being here for so long and growing up here. Do you think they have an advantage over you or what do you think you have to offer since you’ve lived here two years? A: I think about this a lot. I think some of my opponents, and other people in politics, really focus on how long they’ve been a resident, how long they’ve been in an area. My rebuttal back to that was, “Do you realize the last four years, and what that was, prior to the current administration? And why not get involved earlier? If you’ve been here that long. That’s no excuse. I think that’s terrible.” At the first opportunity I have to do good and to get involved I’m taking it. I consider it almost an advantage because I have a different perspective.

I’ve been here again, every single day, building the company, and living here for the last two years. I live, work and play in Roswell and have for, solidly, the last two years. Some of my opponents, they work in other cities. They’re not here all the time. I don’t think the fact that I’ve only been in Roswell and as a resident for two years should bear into their minds, but it will. Q: If you had to give one last pitch, why should Roswell residents vote for you? A: Because I’m different. I’m going to be different in all ways. I believe I’m the only entrepreneurial candidate. I see things differently. I don’t approach it from a political standpoint at all. I approach most things from a “Does it make business sense?” And, whether that is economics, whether that is housing, whether that is development, if it makes good sense for the community, then why not do it? I’m always a big proponent of trying different things, of sticking our neck on the line, let’s see what we can get done. I don’t like the status quo, which I think is another advantage I bring. People don’t like change. But, if we can convince them to upgrade, choose a little better deal. If I can’t get you to change your phone, I can convince you to upgrade. There are certain things that we do because we don’t know a better way. That is one of the unique perspectives I can bring to the city. And, I do bring to the city. I bring it every day with the company. I can extrapolate that into our city government and really get back to the transparency and do good for the city. I’m so heavily invested in Roswell. My companies are here. My family is here. My home is here. I have to make it work. Q: What’s the best way for residents to learn more about you and your platform? A: My website’s jasonforroswell.com and social media, same thing. Our phone number, in case anybody wants to call, is 770-415-3650.


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POST 1 CANDIDATE Q&A

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Allen Sells is the only candidate for Post 1 who lives on Roswell’s east side.

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Q: Do you have any other ideas for how Roswell can address affordable housing? A: I spent a good amount of time with the Roswell Housing Authority. I began my career at KPMG. I’m a CPA, and my clients were Atlanta Housing Authority and several other housing authorities. The Housing Authority of Roswell is an important part of solving any problem that revolves around that issue. Looking at the situation, talking to the residents — I was at their CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) meeting briefly.

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Q: A big topic in Roswell right now is the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing. The mayor and City Council have made it clear that they do not want to see any more construction of new apartments unless they are part of a mixed-use development. What role if any, should local government have in promoting or restricting affordable housing, which may include multifamily housing? A: Roswell has a good size complement of what I would call “workforce housing.” There’s 11,300 units in Roswell, which is over 30 percent of the housing

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stock. We have more units than Alpharetta by a good bit. We have almost either double, maybe even triple what Johns Creek and Milton have. Roswell has a fair amount of diverse housing. I do believe that that’s important for a city to have a diverse base of opportunities for housing. But, I do believe as a city, our top priority for all of our residents is to bring good paying jobs so people can afford to live in Roswell. We have to focus on bringing jobs that allow people to live, work, play as well as thrive and grow their family. We want our residents to feel like being in Roswell has bettered their life, and part of that is providing them the opportunity to live here affordably and make a life for themselves.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what that brings to the voters? A: We have lived in Roswell, my wife and I. We raised our children in Roswell, been here since 1995. When we moved here, I still worked in the CNN Center. I have a lot of experience in corporate development, which in Roswell today is a big need. We’re sort of out of balance. It has been great to live in Roswell. We love the city. We are on the east side. I am the only east side candidate. Roswell needs a perspective for both sides. Obviously, we’re a united Roswell. We have one tax base. We need to understand and believe that we have one balance sheet that we are taking to the market against competitor cities.

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Sells: From previous page If you recall a few years ago they had not passed an inspection in a lot of years, and concerned citizens recognized that if the Housing Authority was taken over by HUD (Housing and Urban Development), Roswell would lose the important part in making affordable housing a reality in Roswell. So, concerned citizens got out, crawling around on the ground picking up glass before the inspection, cleaning up, making sure that the Roswell Housing Authority would pass. The leadership has pulled that housing authority back from the brink. But, I will say you know they’re in a tough spot still. I should point out that the city has a limited role in Roswell Housing Authority. The only official role is the appointment of the board members by the mayor himself, not by the City Council. But, we have an influential role. We are interested in their success as our citizens and as a means to drive affordable housing in Roswell. The mayor and council can help drive this conversation with HUD, perhaps with state officials to provide the additional resources. But, also, there’s a forensic role for the City Council to play. As a CPA and as someone who has housing authority experience, we should look at those things and see what can be restruck or re-traded. And, try to use the housing authority as it should be used — a local path for people to achieve affordable housing. Q: In April, a number of Roswell residents pointed to possible racial bias in the City Council’s new apartment ban and asked about the status of the racial impact assessment, an idea that was tossed around in 2020. The assessment would be part of the city’s comprehensive plan and include a full-scale exami-

CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election

I do believe as a city, our top priority for all of our residents is to bring good paying jobs so people can afford to live in Roswell.” ALLEN SELLS nation process that focused on staving off racial inequalities, particularly when it comes to zoning and land use regulations. Would you support the city completing or going through with the racial impact assessment? A: I don’t know enough about that particular document, but I do know that through the process of the CDBG grants, Roswell is required, and they are currently going through a process of assessing barriers to fair housing. I sat in on two community meetings, the one at the Roswell Housing Authority but also a more full eval of the entire process on the east side. I know that there is action by the city to look at these issues. We should identify ways to raise the level of living for all of our citizens at all times. There are limited things that the city has in its purview. Clearly, zoning is one of those. Several of the cities in their comprehensive plan are shooting at 30 to 32 percent composition of workforce housing. We are already there. Where we are truly out of balance is in our commercial real estate. Roswell has about 30 percent of our tax digest in commercial property, 70 percent is in residential. You have to have a balance of that. Otherwise, your tax digest doesn’t cover the operations of the city, so you’re chasing grants or you’re using other resources that could be used to better the city to make up the shortfall because you’re out of balance. Q: Can you tell me more about your ideal relationship between the city government and its local businesses?

A: A lot of times we’re not the ones to light the fire. I think the role of the City Council, different than perhaps state or federal, is to blow on the embers. We should find ways to take those sparks of ingenuity — let’s face it, most people in their life are not going to start a business. Somebody said, “Ah, I have this great idea.” We, as citizens, have a great opportunity to blow on those embers in different ways. Perhaps the city’s role would be through the operations of the business development offices and those kinds of people to help bring business to help support that cause. Q: The East Roswell Economic Action Committee presented its final report in 2020 and includes recommendations on how to better promote economic development in this area. How would you decide where to begin tackling the recommended improvements and how to fund them along with having other additional new priorities? A: East Roswell is unique challenge. The Chattahoochee is sort of a moat. But also, 400 is the Great Wall. As someone who lives on the far east side, coming over to City Hall can be, at the wrong time of day — better pack a tent. It’s a challenge for our businesses. It’s a challenge for our residents. If you think about a small shop, they tend to be very thinly capitalized and of the size that if the wind blows the wrong way, you’ve got a derelict business. We need to attract some corporate clients that go out shopping at lunchtime or

go support these restaurants, so they can make it. We need to focus on businesses as a city in these areas that are under stress. We need to focus on bringing in some clients that bring almost a destination, whether it’s just a work destination, or it’s a true destination for leisure. Replacing one failed business with a second thinly capitalized business is not doing favors to the business owner who’s risking the capital or to the community that gets to pick up the pieces. Q: Do you have any ideas on how to do that? A: My career has been made through negotiation. One of the things that I learned early in my career in negotiations is you need to begin the negotiation with a clear model of what your business model is. What is it that I’m trying to accomplish for our team, our capital, our company, our city? The next thing that I do, which I think is a relatively unique approach, I try to cross the table. I’m a chess player, so I try to turn the chess board around and say, “OK, what moves would I do?” We can’t make people invest in Roswell. We invite them to invest in Roswell. What I want to do is to understand exactly how they make money so that we can try to preserve those opportunities and still get what the city needs to start that business. Q: What role do you see transparency playing in how the City Council operates? A: The way Roswell’s government is structured is pitch perfect for that. And that is a part-time position that should be occupied by a citizen. This is not a profession. We don’t have professional council members. It’s intended to be citizens. The way Roswell does it, and I’m sure all the other municipalities do too, you go

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CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election•

Sells: From previous page through some training after you become a council member about how this stuff works because that way you can add value. The purpose is to bring citizens to the table to allow them to guide government with a clear eye. I think Roswell is structured in a correct way for that purpose. I say get the bad news out early. Hiders always lose. If there is bad news to be told, you need to make sure it’s on the table quickly. I can’t remember what wise person said this but, “We may not solve all the problems we face, but we won’t solve any that we don’t face.” As citizens we have to be presented with the clear, unvarnished truth and react to that. I’m all about transparency. I have no purpose in this other than particularly to provide as much authority to the residents of Roswell themselves as humanly possible and the least amount of government as humanly possible. I have nothing to hide. I choose clarity over agreement. We may disagree, but we should both be clear about what our positions are. Q: The Roswell City Council often talks about what the city of Alpharetta does right, and what can be done in Roswell to duplicate that. Is this the right ap-

AppenMedia.com/RoswellElection | Alpharetta-Roswell Herald | October 6, 2022 | 9

Nobody has the riverfront that we do. Nobody really has the quaint, historic downtown, quirky as it is, that we do. We’re clear that we have assets that are unique.” ALLEN SELLS proach? Or, what can Roswell do differently using its own unique resources and characteristics to be successful? A: I’m not sure that the talk that you’re pointing to is Roswell saying, “Let’s be Alpharetta.” I don’t think that’s a characterization that I would agree with. I think Roswell has a uniqueness that is a strength. I have to say we can be united and unique at the same time. But, what I see when I hear those comments is that old saying, “Seek not to imitate the masters, but rather seek what they saw.” What Alpharetta and other cities have seen is to have a balanced economic model for their city. They intentionally did things over the last 20 years to build that balance. I think it was absolutely appropriate for Roswell to say, “Where did we miss that? What can we do to get back in balance?” I don’t think that’s the same as Roswell saying, “We need Avalon or whatever the case may be.” Nobody has the riverfront that we do. Nobody really has the quaint, historic downtown, quirky as

it is, that we do. We’re clear that we have assets that are unique. But, we should seek to fulfill the objectives of our citizens using a process that’s tried and true as opposed to just making it up as we go. We need a better plan. Q: A lot of longtime Roswell residents take a lot of pride in being here for so long or growing up here. How do you see that as being an advantage running for City Council? A: So much of culture is geography. There is a lot about Roswell that’s caught, not taught. You may have taken Georgia history in school, but you didn’t take Roswell history. The only way you’re going to pick that up is by being here, meeting the people, catching the culture of Roswell. You’re not going to learn it in a book. It’s important to have roots here. We’re on our fourth address in Roswell. We had bought a place in Midtown and were thinking of moving in Midtown. We owned it for seven years.

We never sold our house in Roswell. We love Midtown. But, we were like, “Our peeps are out here.” So, we sold the house in Midtown right before COVID and instead bought a townhome in Roswell, so we could stay here with the people that we raised our kids with, the people that we go to church with. Q: If you have to give one last pitch, why should Roswell residents vote for you? A: I have real world experience in a lot of things that matter to Roswell. It is not a slight on Roswell to say that we face some challenges that are probably imminent and need immediate care and attention. The Housing Authority is clearly one of those. We cannot afford to have another decade where we fall farther behind, and business opportunities leapfrogs us to go to the other cities. I believe that a vote for me is a vote for, “We need to do what we need to do in Roswell now. We need to do it wisely. We need a good negotiator who understands how to close billion-dollar deals at the table.” There are businesspeople on the council today, but I do think my skills are different than the rest of the council in terms of negotiations and being a CPA. Q: What’s the best way for residents to learn more about you and your platform and campaign? A: allen4roswell.com

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10 | October 6, 2022 | Alpharetta-Roswell Herald | AppenMedia.com/RoswellElection

CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election

POST 1 CANDIDATE Q&A

MULHAM SHBEIB Q: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what that brings to the voters? A: I’ve lived in Roswell for 10 years, my wife and I. I’m the CFO of a chicken company. We’re the 15th largest chicken company in America. We employ over 1,000 people in Georgia. Our budget is actually bigger than the entire City of Roswell’s budget. As CFO I feel very comfortable understanding finances, accounting, transparency, ethics and so forth. During our 10 years in Roswell, I tried to be very active in the community. I’ve coached my daughters in basketball through park and recs. I’ve coached them in softball through park and recs. I’ve sat on two school boards here in the Alpharetta-Roswell area. And, in my house, we’ve got four daughters and my dad. So, in my house I have from the ages of 7 to 85 years old or so. I’m invested in the city based on everyone that I have living with us at home. Q: A big topic in Roswell right now is the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing. The mayor and City Council have made it clear they do not want to see any more construction of new apartments in Roseville unless they are part of a mixed-use development. What role should local government have in promoting or restricting affordable housing which may include multifamily housing? A: One of the reasons that I decided to run for City Council is — as I mentioned, I have four daughters here. I’d love to be part of the decision-making process as the girls get older. They say, “Dad, Roswell is a really good place to be. We don’t want to have to live anywhere else.” As these kids graduate from college and start their professional careers, you need to have opportunities for young professionals to live in the city. So, just having a balanced approach of understanding the history of Roswell, the charm of Roswell, the culture of Roswell, but at the same time, allowing young professionals an opportunity to be here as well. I think there’s a lot of value in mixed-use facilities. I’ve seen it done in Alpharetta. A mixed-use thing is a good thing. I just think it gives people an opportunity to feel that they’re part of the neighborhood. They’re part of the city and so forth and just giving younger folks an opportunity to feel like this is their home as well. Q: Do you have any other ideas for how Roswell will can address affordable housing? A: Roswell is a very interesting city be-

cause land-wise, we’re about 45 square miles in size and about 100,000 people or so. One of the ways that you can help address these issues is sometimes you can provide tax incentives to builders. The builder doesn’t feel they’re losing money because they’ve been incentivized from the government to build here. Q: Roswell is a very diverse community. But, in April, a number of Roswell residents pointed to possible racial bias in the City Council’s new apartment ban and asked about the status of the racial impact assessment, an idea that was tossed around in 2020. The assessment would be part of the city’s comprehensive plan and include a full-scale examination process that focuses on staving off racial inequalities, particularly when it comes to zoning and land use regulations. Would you support the city completing the racial impact assessment? A: I’d love to know the cost associated with that. I think that’s a fair question to ask. If you started it, and you put in the money, and it doesn’t have a huge material impact financially on the taxpayers, I definitely think it should be completed. Q: Explain your ideal relationship between a city government and its local businesses. A: I think you want to have a really strong relationship. Part of what makes a city healthy is having a good combination of businesses. Businesses are a fabric of our community, of our city. One of the ways to make a city successful is if its businesses are successful. So, obviously, just having a good working relationship where you could understand some of the challenges the businesses are having, some of the opportunities. I feel like it’s a partnership, and if you have a city with just all residents and no strong businesses, that wouldn’t be a good thing short term or long term. Q: The East Roswell Economic Action Committee presented its final report in 2020. It includes recommendations on how to better promote economic development in this area. How would you decide where to begin tackling the recommended improvements and how to fund them along with having other additional and new priorities? A: Economic development is a big thing that I would really be focused on. About 35 percent of the city lives in East Roswell population-wise, 65 percent is in West Roswell. As a City Council member, the majority of the challenges facing the city from an economic development side is definitely East Roswell. About two years ago, I was appointed by the

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Mulham Shbeib, CFO for Mar-Jac Poultry, has lived in Roswell for 10 years. governor to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. My strongest suit as a candidate is economic development. Through the Georgia Department of Economic Development, I’ve made a lot contacts, learned a lot, built a lot of good relationships. I’ve learned, just through the last 10 years, it’s really not about politics, it’s about your policies. There used to be Studio Movie Grill. It was in East Roswell. It was the anchor tenant of an almost 10-acre property. That left and went about 5 miles north to Alpharetta. Having strong policies in place would have kept Studio Movie Grill here. That’s something that I’m going to advocate for. That’s something that I’m passionate about. That’s something that I’m going to definitely champion — is just developing East Roswell. One thing I’m really focused on and hopeful for is — as my daughters get older, they want to be in Roswell, they want to be part of this community. If you develop a whole city the right way, this would be a great opportunity for my kids to stay here. We’re not a broken city by any means. There’s a lot of good in this city. But, just because there’s a lot of good doesn’t mean there’s a lot of opportunity. Q: You mentioned Studio Movie Grill. What other types of businesses would you like to see in East Roswell? A: I’d like to see more on the riverside, for example. There’s so much opportunity there. We have beautiful parks — so many opportunities from a trail perspective, biking. Just having a good combination of making that part of town a place to live, to work, to play, to retire

and so forth. Mixed-use could be a really good example of that, like these really nice neighborhoods. Within that, like what they’ve done in parts of downtown Alpharetta, like near City Hall, those little pockets — I’d love to see something like that created in East Roswell and in all parts of Roswell. The stronger you make our city, the better it is for generations to come. Q: What role do you see transparency playing in how the city council operates? A: I think transparency is huge. I believe I’m the only candidate, from a transparency perspective — I’m not accepting more than $200 from anyone. But, at the same time, I’m publishing the financials associated with my campaign because I know how important transparency is, especially in the role of government. We’re not a publicly traded company. We’re not a private company. We’re the government, and our money basically comes from the taxpayers. If your source of income is from the taxpayers, you need to be transparent. Q: The Roswell City Council often talks about what the City of Alpharetta does right and what can be done in Roswell to duplicate that. Is this the right approach? Or what can Roswell do differently using its own unique resources and characteristics to be successful? A: I’ve only lived in Roswell for 10 years but talking to a lot of friends and going through this process, folks who have lived here for 20 or more years have told me that they feel in the last 10 years,

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CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election•

Shbeib: From previous page 20 years or so that Roswell has been left behind other neighboring cities. There’s some truth to that. But, we have something special that nobody else does. We have 27 parks here in Roswell. We have over 900 acres of parks. We have the charm of downtown Roswell as well. I think we have a lot of value in our city. But, we just need to find the right balance where we maintain the charm of Roswell, everything that’s made it special, for the history, for 150 years or so, the things that make Roswell special, we need to definitely focus on. But, the areas that are maybe being left behind, we need to address those issues and address them responsibly and tackle them one by one. Q: Longtime Roswell residents take a lot of pride in being here for so long and growing up here. Do you think that they have an advantage to that? How is being a longtime Roswell resident an advantage when running for City Council? A: I’ve met some residents as I go through this process who have lived here for 50 years, who have a lot of value to share. In a way they’re almost like the elders of the community. You

AppenMedia.com/RoswellElection | Alpharetta-Roswell Herald | October 6, 2022 | 11

Like I said, I’m not accepting more than $200. At the same time, I’ve committed to donating all that back to the City of Roswell. I know as a councilmember you’re not doing this for the money. They make about $18,000 a year. Regardless, I’ve already committed to donating back to the city, whether park and recs, police programs fire and so forth. So, I’m not taking money as a candidate, and I’m not keeping any money. I’d be as transparent as possible and just using my business experience, just being a CFO and a CPA of a fairly large company. Being appointed by the governor to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, having that be a big area I’m really interested in. I add a lot of value to the city. One of the things I think that I enjoy about myself honestly is whether you’re a multimillionaire or making $10 an hour, I will treat you exactly the same. I don’t distinguish at all. I treat everybody the right way. I mean I’ve really tried to be kind to everyone that I meet and try to treat people with respect.

We’re not a broken city by any means. There’s a lot of good in this city. But, just because there’s a lot of good doesn’t mean there’s a lot of opportunity.” MULHAM SHBEIB

definitely want to respect what they have to say. You definitely want to hear their thoughts. You want to find issues that are important to them and respectfully listen. Somebody a lot smarter than me said, “Mulham, you’ve got two ears and one mouth, so you always want to listen twice as much as you talk.” One thing that kind of helps me as I go through this process — I’ve never run for any position. This is all green to me. One of the things I feel that is a good quality or characteristic for me — I know a lot about the city but at the same time, I have a lot to learn. So, if I’m fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to be part of City Council, I think that’s an advantage, where I’m not just set in my own ways. I’m definitely looking to listen, looking to learn. That’s one of the things I’ve tried to do as a candidate, whether

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you’re knocking on doors, posting coffee meet and greets, doing phone calls, going to community events. When you go to these events, you see the perspective from everyone. Q: If you had to give one last pitch, why should Roswell residents vote for you? Tell us a little bit about your priorities. A: My passion is really strong for the city. I’ve invested in the city quite a bit. I work about 50 miles from here. My wife and I chose for me to drive 45 miles to work because I know how great of a city Roswell is. Also, in my house, I’ve got my four daughters. I’ve got my dad as well. I have a 7-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old, an 18-year-old, my wife and I, and my dad. Hearing the perspective of Roswell from my own home gives me a good perspective of the city as well. What also makes me a different candidate is I’m not taking any money.

Q: What’s the best way for residents to learn more about you and your platform? A: I would say the best way is just through social media initially — yes2roswell.com is the website. Also, facebook. com/yes2roswell. My phone number is on there.

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CANDIDATE Q&A• Roswell Special Election

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