Q & A: Fayetteville Council Post 2 candidates

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Fayetteville post 2 candidates: (clockwise from top left) Kathaleen Brewer, Joe Clark, Kevin Pratt and Oyin Mitchell. Photos/Submitted.
Fayetteville post 2 candidates: (clockwise from top left) Kathaleen Brewer, Joe Clark, Kevin Pratt and Oyin Mitchell. Photos/Submitted.

In Fayetteville, four candidates qualified to run for City Council Post 2: the incumbent Kathaleen Brewer, and three challengers, Joe Clark, Oyin Mitchell, and Kevin Pratt.

Below are the questions and the responding candidates’ answers:

Fayetteville Council Post 2

1. Introduce yourself to our readers: Who are you, how old are you, what is your current job, what kinds of jobs have you done, how long have you been in Fayetteville and why are you running for public office this year?

KATHALEEN BREWER (incumbent) — Hello to all. I’m Kathaleen Brewer and my age – say what Mr. Nelms? — Let’s just say I’m old enough to be a grandmother even though I’m actually a great-grandmother … Or that I’m retired for the second time around.

Basically I’ve always been a hybrid of the right and left brain. I graduated from USC (the one in California) with a BS in Dental Hygiene and retired from that career back in 2004. I also have a certification in medical transcription, gallery management and owned an art exhibit venue back in CA.

Then I moved here and started Fayette County’s first non-profit art center and gallery in 2005, which over time morphed into ArtWorks on the Square (where Oz Pizza is now), a space once filled with 19 individual studios, a central classroom, pottery studio, art supply store and gallery.

After the heartbreaking loss of ArtWorks due to the loss of the building during the recession, I returned to an earlier passion of screenwriting. “When one door closes, another opens.” I’ve been winning national awards during these last couple years and keeping my fingers crossed something will be optioned.

I have been on City Council for the last four years and brought a creative thinker’s viewpoint to the table, as well as a woman’s perspective. I believe the timing of my term was perfect due to all the visionary work that occurred and the fact I’m an artist capable of rendering ideas on paper.

Because of this, I’d like to continue being a team player and to be there when all we’ve set in motion comes to fruition. My father was Captain Glenn Brewer who was on Fayetteville’s City Council for over 16 years. He and my mother recently passed at age 89 and lived in the pre-Civil War Victorian farmhouse on Beauregard Boulevard.

Outside of Council, I’m involved with Habitat for Humanity, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, and Drug Free Fayette’s Prescription Drug Committee that is charged with informing Fayette citizens about keeping prescription drugs safe, the opioid crisis and overdose deaths related to fentanyl.

I’m also on the Board of Directors for McIntosh Trail Community Service Board, a mental health and developmental disability umbrella that serves five counties. As you can probably deduce, I relate to all these entities because I’ve had to deal with all kinds of mental health problems working with artists for over twenty years and because I have a son who had an addiction problem.

I married really young and was married for twenty years, then was a single parent for twenty-two years, then married Richard “Mr. Brewer” Johnston when I was 64 so I also married really old. He’s retired from Delta. He’s a lovable, crazy American Indian, writer and watercolor artist.

We both have two grown children. My daughter and her family live in California. She works in management for an up and coming marketing IT business, Trade Desk. My son lives in Texas and works in construction. As a single grandmother, I raised his daughter who is now 22 years old and a dental assistant with a baby of her own. (Which makes me the great-grandma.)

Richard’s daughters still live in metro Atlanta with their families. One daughter is Senior Marketing Vice President for Home Depot and the other daughter is quality inspector for new computer systems.

Other than that, we have two dogs and a cat and try our best to travel, paint and write.

JOE CLARK — Life has provided me with a working class background which gives me the ability to serve the citizens of Fayetteville with a focus on our city’s future while respecting its past.

I was born in 1959 in Rome, Georgia, the youngest of seven children. Upon graduating from Shorter College in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, Management and Finance I enlisted in the United States Army. I served my country as a non-commissioned officer. After completion of my tour of duty I returned to Georgia and raised my family of two sons and a daughter.

During those years I opened two businesses. One was a commercial catering company. The other was a fitness and personal training facility concentrating on competitive athletes and stage competitors. I also found the time to become an all natural drug free professional bodybuilder, winning numerous titles. I am currently employed with a major airline and have been for 22 years. I have worked in several departments including ground operations, in the air and as an elected union officer. I’m currently a flight attendant.

Additionally I have the honor of serving the citizens of Fayetteville as a commissioner on Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Board. I also serve as president of The Villages at LaFayette Park Homeowners Association.

I moved to Fayetteville in 2015 after looking in every direction around Atlanta for a perfect home. After looking for a year, the 59th home we looked at became our new home. It was the only home we looked at in Fayetteville.

I’m running for Post 2 on our City Council because I know we have reached a point in time where big decisions have to be made that will decide all of our futures. These decisions will shape the quality of life in Fayetteville.

I’m focused on a better future for everyone. I’ve developed business plans, overseen capital improvement projects, created operating budgets, negotiated contracts and have been a public servant.

The job of a City Council member is to be involved in all aspects of our city’s operation and be out in the community listening to our citizens. I will not be a councilman who just attends the two meetings a month. I enjoy working with people and creating solutions instead of problems. I’ll be ready to serve on my first day in office and I’ll remember that I work for our citizens.

OYIN J. MITCHELL — I am Christian with traditional family values. I have been married to Arthur Mitchell, Jr. of Fitzgerald, Georgia for more than 10 years. I am a Chicago native but my journey to Georgia began in 1995 and 25 years later my husband and I chose the city of Fayetteville to fellowship, raise a family, and grow our business.

My husband is a licensed insurance adjuster.

I am the mother of two children, one with special needs and both attend the city of Fayetteville schools where I am also the fundraising chair for PTO. I am the principal owner and operator of The O. Mitchell Agency, a state of Georgia licensed insurance agency.

My passion is advocating for the needs of families that care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. I love to travel and write. I’ve chronicled my journey of moving from pain to power and finding my faith. My 8-year-old son and I have co-authored a children’s book based on the importance of representation for children.

I am 44 years old.

I’m the mother of AJ and Ava, both elementary school children, and the licensed owner and operator of The O. Mitchell Agency, an insurance firm that offers life, health, supplemental and Medicare solutions.

I am a fellow with Georgia State University’s LEND program — an interdisciplinary leadership development program sponsored through the Autism Cares Act of 2019. The program’s foundation is based on principles developed through The Center for Maternal Child Health and in partnership with the CDC.

Our goal is to improve cultural competence, raise awareness, and improve access to resources in support of the needs of families who care for loved ones with disabilities.

I also create content for training workshops to bring social awareness for impact groups to reduce recidivism rates and incidents of violence within their communities.

My previous work experience extends from the private sector, retail, and state government sector.

I want to be a part of the growth in the city as we move through change. I became knowledgeable about city government in Fayetteville shortly after moving here a couple of years ago and therefore became more engaged. My candidacy was an intentional decision raised by me and supported by my family. When the vacancy was announced, I wanted to be a part of the conversation and actively contribute to our city as it continues to grow fast and become more diverse.

KEVIN PRATT — Hello, my name is Kevin Pratt, II and I’m a candidate for Fayetteville City Council Post 2. I am 50 years old. Currently, I am the Regional Sales Manager for Monoprice, covering the Southeastern United States. My responsibilities involve overseeing product sales, contract negotiations, and increasing customer demand as well as developing and coordinating marketing campaigns with sales activities.

My previous experiences included launching domestic and international distribution deals for AT&T, Comdial, and Lucent Technologies with companies such as Samsung, ZTE Corporation, Audiovox Mobley, and US automotive manufacturers for connected vehicles.

I have been a Fayetteville resident for two years. After prayer and conversation with my wife, Moira, we decided I should enter as a candidate for Fayetteville City Council Post 2.

My opposition to the rezoning for apartments on Highway 54 was my motivation to serve on the council. To learn more about me and my platform, visit https://www.electkevinprattii.org and to sign up for “Chat with Pratt.” This is a bi-weekly online forum to ask questions and receive answers to your questions. Follow me on social media @kprattii.

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2. How many City Council meetings have you attended or viewed?

BREWER — All but three over the last four years.

CLARK — I’ve attended or viewed somewhere between 30-40 council meetings.

MITCHELL — I have viewed a few. As technology continues to progress and grow, I utilize it to engage and become familiar with some of the issues facing our community. In the last meeting, I was intrigued when Comcast spoke about their commitment to inclusivity as they discussed their economic impact, innovation, and commitment to the city. I would like to learn more about their measures of success and the processes implemented to achieve a better customer experience with Fayetteville citizens.

PRATT — I have attended and or viewed over 12 City Council meetings.

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3. What’s your top agenda item? What will you do about that?

BREWER — My top priority is making sure council is kept up-to-date on numbers and ratios needed to make sure we stay safely in a smart growth pattern. By that I mean I want to know every quarter or semi-annually exactly where we stand as to the number of rental properties in relation to owned homes, our population growth in relation to the number of fireman and police officers we have, what’s our water capacity (we recently brought on a third well) and where we stand with sewer capacity (we are in the midst of building a new, larger and more efficient facility).

As to what I will do about that: I’ve presented the city manager with this list. Being an artist, I’d like to be able to quickly visualize this data in the form of a picture of a gauge (pie charts) – like how close to empty are we getting? I love making him go crazy…

CLARK — At the top of my platform is the realization of our Comprehensive Plan which is the pathway to ensure a successful and prosperous future for the City of Fayetteville and all of our citizens.

The Comprehensive Plan was the result of a collaboration of over 600 residents of our city looking to the future. Fulfilling the objectives of this plan will ensure that our community will be prepared for a successful and economically sound future. The plan has many pieces of a larger puzzle that involves housing, job creation, traffic management, infrastructure and a vibrant walkable downtown.

The short-term Strategic Plan is the first step in the vision. The projects that have been approved for development have been carefully researched. I have been involved with these projects for almost 2 years as a Commissioner on the Planning & Zoning Board. The projects that have been approved will be coming out of the ground very soon. These projects are designed to have a huge impact on our economy with the goal of attracting the next generation of Fayetteville residents and improving the quality of life for our current residents.

These projects need to be held to a high standard in appearance and conform to the city code and ordinances. This agenda item is about today, tomorrow and the long-term future of our city.

My goal is to ensure the success of the Comprehensive Plan by working closely with the City Planners, the Building Department and Public Works. Success of this plan will result in the long-term viability of Fayetteville for everyone who chooses to call our city home as well as the backbone of every community, small businesses.

MITCHELL — Community Engagement — According to the Comprehensive Plan, the city of Fayetteville became more diverse within the last four years. Our strength is in our diversity and it’s imperative to the vitality of the city and its future that is reflected in policy and community decisions.

I would develop a complimentary plan that continues to reflect our commitment to the outdoor beauty of the city. It would also include elements that develop and support the people who live here. My plan would focus on developing the direction of the workforce as we continue to grow and age as a community.

I would focus on closing the gap. I would review the current Engagement Development Strategy to Grow the Economy Plan and identify opportunities within the plan to address the targeted group through analysis. My goal is to close the generational gap, be more inclusive, and reduce the 20% rate of high schoolers that indicate they would not return to Fayetteville after college.

PRATT — My top agenda item as your next Fayetteville City Council Post 2 representative is Targeted Development. I will recruit new businesses and target new developments.

My goal is for the city of Fayetteville to become a destination place for talented people to work and live here. I want to foster the revitalization of our older neighborhoods and communities that will ensure pride and honor to compliment new subdivisions in close proximity.

This plan is designed for targeted and planned growth to increase city revenue and increase property values for our citizens. To learn more about me and my platform, visit https://www.electkevinprattii.org and to sign up for “Chat with Pratt.” This is a bi-weekly online forum to ask questions and receive answers to your specific questions. Follow me on social media @kprattii.

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4. What two other issues in Fayetteville concern you the most? Please be specific about how you would approach those issues.

BREWER — There isn’t enough affordable housing in Fayetteville for “blue collar” workers: teachers, police, firemen, restaurant and store workers. How can you remedy that without bringing in HUD housing?

I feel the best way – based on what other cities across the nation are doing – is to offer an incentive through an Affordable Housing Program also called a LIHTC or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit which leverages private investor capital and equity to support affordable housing.

The IRS is the federal agent involved. It’s the IRS who vets and agrees to give chosen investors special tax credits only if units are built and 20% are leased and maintained as affordable workforce housing throughout a 15-year compliance period.

Sometimes these tax credits can be dollar for dollar so being approved by the IRS is very competitive. In return, the investors and the builder agree that 20% of the final product can be sold or rented below market value to qualifying people.

To qualify, a person has to make 50-60% below the average local income. So here in Fayetteville that means a person must be making between $35,000 to $60,000 a year.

The investors and builder may also include qualifiers such as having no foreclosures or bankruptcies in the past two years and no felony convictions. The best thing about this is that the “affordable priced” homes are dispersed throughout a development or apartment building, preventing a cluster of low income units. These projects are NOT Section 8 HUD housing projects.

The second issue is the lack of a local tech school for adults to learn the latest skills needed in the IT and robotic world, especially since we are always enticing these kind of businesses to come to Fayetteville and need to be able to supply them with skilled labor. (Part of the live here, work here paradigm.)

I’m always pushing for Southern Crescent Tech to expand its program at the Center of Innovation on Hood Avenue to include the latest IT programs and make them available to adults, not just high school kids.

CLARK — Housing and the fiscal health of our city is is extremely important. When a city is growing, there are numerous challenges concerning the housing of current and new residents. The need for housing becomes a very contentious subject. Planning is such an important part of creating new choices in housing. As the saying goes: “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

We need a variety of housing to satisfy the needs of singles, families, age demographics and income levels. In addressing these needs I believe that the already approved two developments which will bring high density multi-family housing to the downtown is enough. I will not be in agreement to create any more large scale multi-family projects.

I will support medium and high density single family development. This can be achieved by getting investors to build small pocket neighborhoods that make good use of the remaining land available in the city. This will aid managing future traffic flows.

The median price of homes in our city are among the highest in the metro Atlanta area and are appreciating at a pace above the market rate. If we can develop small pocket neighborhoods where home ownership is possible, it will encourage families to plant roots here and add a sense of ownership which results in a sense of community pride.

The fiscal health of any city is of the upmost importance. This becomes a two-fold issue. Taxes and fees are entrusted to our city leaders as an investment in our future. The citizens deserve to receive a good return on the investment they work hard for. I will be a fiscal watchdog to keep our budget balanced and healthy.

We need to work on attracting new companies and small business which will result in expanding our tax base and which can lead to lessening the burden on homeowners. When we capitalize on business growth we create a strong local economy which will provide our citizens with new and improved choices in shopping and dining.

I will encourage everyone to shop local which will result in more income for our business owners, more jobs and sales tax revenue. All of these will allow the city to continue to finance our city in a smart way. By focusing on expanding our tax base, it will allow the city to continue keeping us safe by retaining and recruiting the best 1st responders.

MITCHELL — Improve Public Safety through education: Education is one of the best tools to improve public safety which makes sense in a city with 28% of our citizens with some college education.

I would explore the current educational programs offered through our business partner like the Leaders and Achievers program and Internet Essentials to include opportunities for elementary and middle schoolers. I will collaborate with city teachers, administrators and business partners to establish educational strategies for students including at-risk students in the elementary and middle school level.

My focus is on city schools in areas that crimes occur and/or have been identified as a target school for disciplinary issues.

A Multipurpose Performing Arts Center: I recommend the development of a Multipurpose Performing Arts Center to approach smart multigenerational growth. It’s an investment that addresses the immediate and long term needs of the city. A center would brand the city, develop the workforce, provide a central meeting location for various clubs, address health and wellness, family, and citizen needs. The center would be self-sustained through dues and fees to the public.

I would recommend initial construction using SPLOST funds and benchmark the development of the Virginia Gray Recreation Center in Clayton County during initial planning.

PRATT — I believe there are two other areas of opportunity for Fayetteville and that’s a strategic focus on Family and Safety.

My Targeted Development initiative also supports these family and safety initiatives by providing the attractions for young families and millennials as well as the funding for increased salaries for our first responders.

As for the family initiative, it is my goal to attract new families to the city of Fayetteville to maintain our quality of life and small town feel without growing too fast. In order to make this possible, we need to provide safe, family-friendly neighborhoods along with our great school system in our amazing community.

Regarding the third initiative of safety, I want to increase salaries of first responders and public safety officers so that they can afford to live in the city of Fayetteville where they work. Having more local first responders will foster a safer community.

I also want to ensure that we have sufficient sidewalks in neighborhoods. I want to help develop state of the art bike and golf cart trails with cost-efficient lighting encouraging comfortable commutes to local stores and restaurants.

I believe we should strategically place city recreation parks for children to play safely in their neighborhood.

To learn more about me and my platform, visit https://www.electkevinprattii.org and to sign up for “Chat with Pratt.” This is a bi-weekly online forum to ask questions and receive answers to your specific questions. Follow me on social media @kprattii.

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5. What is your vision for the future of Fayetteville?

BREWER — I see a vibrant community that enjoys the outdoors and family. I see more seniors getting out of their homes and engaging with younger generations. I see more things to do, especially at night, and hopefully before I die, an art center (we are again the only metro Atlanta city without one) where people can take a wide variety of classes taught by local professionals who are willing to pass on their skills to the next generations. I’m not talking about the world class performing art center that Pinewood plans to build, but a downtown community oriented one with affordable classes.

CLARK — My vision for the city of Fayetteville is one where everyone can be proud to say, “I live in Fayetteville.” Successful and prosperous cities are built on a strong sense of community pride.

To reach this goal, I intend to expand the city’s effort to recruit and retain companies large and small that provide stable well-paying jobs. These jobs will allow our families to maintain a prosperous future without having to commute a long distance. This will give everyone more free time to do things they enjoy doing.

I envision a vibrant downtown as well as redevelopment of the older commercial properties on the north side 85 corridor. I envision affordable homes where singles and young families can purchase the American dream of homeownership. Young adults want a livable, walkable lifestyle, not 4,000 square foot homes.

I envision new opportunities for small businesses. We need non-chain dining establishments and activity based venues. I want us all to have the opportunity to stay in Fayetteville for special times that we celebrate without driving to Atlanta. These businesses include those where a couple can have a nice night out with good food and entertainment. A place where families can feel safe and and enjoy their time together.

I envision a place where our children and young adults will enjoy the community where they have been raised and raise their families here. We must stop the exodus of our next generation. I truly believe this is all possible. Let’s all work together for a better Fayetteville so it can continue another 200 years.

I will give it my all to take care of our city. I’m asking for your vote. Let’s do this together. I love Fayetteville and proud to call it my “Hometown.“

MITCHELL — I am a visionary dedicated to maintaining the quality of the city through community engagement. My focus is to create a partnership with educators, businesses and the community at large to develop a progressive approach that represents every citizen within the city. My goal is to make achievable and generational decisions to create an opportunity for those who are growing up in Fayetteville. I have a concentrated focus on attracting families who require living in communities that have the experience of a premiere city and the feel of a distinguished small town.

PRATT — I want to ensure that the city of Fayetteville sustains growth for the future by encompassing Family, Safety, and Targeted Development. Focusing on young families and millennials with targeted development will help secure our future. Investing in our first responders will support the safety and security of our citizens. To learn more about me and my platform, visit https://www.electkevinprattii.org and to sign up for “Chat with Pratt.” This is a bi-weekly online forum to ask questions and receive answers to your specific questions. Follow me on social media @kprattii.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yea Ben, as Kathleen said “why does age matter?” Why does that appear so often as a legit question? I don’t think it is. It is like asking a candidate’s race or sexual orientation or, to be more up to date – their preferred pronoun. Ha ha!

    Am I supposed to vote for or against someone based upon age or should I hear about her (or his) stance on more important issues. Things like who is falling over themselves to attract millennials and is the Pinewood adventure really paying off for the city.

  2. After reading the candidate’s answers I asked Mrs. Brewer her reaction. Her first remark was that it was great to see so many people finally becoming engaged in the city’s government since hardly anybody shows up at council meetings except staff unless there is opposition to a development. She also stated she feels she has an unfair advantage since she KNOWS what has been done or is in the process of being done within the city in regards to many of their well intended ideas.

    Concerning Mr. Clark’s statement about following the new Comprehensive plan, Mrs. Brewer was part of the committee that worked with the public in the actual making of the new Comprehensive Plan. She was also on the committee which was tasked to read every ordinance change presented to city by a firm hired to update all the city’s outdated ordinances.

    In regards to Mr. Pratt’s wish to bring in new targeted businesses , Mrs. Brewer says the city is already working closely with the Fayette County Economic Development Committee which has the personnel and experts at doing just that. They City also contracted an industry headhunter to help them find the businesses that Fayetteville needs and wants. Councilwoman Brewer also says the city just recently raised all the first responders’ salaries (police and firemen) to equal what other similar sized cities are paying in order to keep them from leaving after investing a lot of money into their training and too help recruit new officers. (Police departments all across the nation are having a real hard time recruiting police officers now days.)

    Mrs. Mitchell’s platform venturing into the public school arena, is unwise since Kathaleen personally learned the hard way after taking on the FCOBE when she was first elected, is not in city’s purview. Also, Mrs. Mitchell’s desire to have a performing arts center is unnecessary since Dan Cathy is planning for a world class performing arts center out at Pinewood Forrest.

    AS a supporter of Mrs. Brewer I feel it’s her willingness to put in countless hours of volunteer committee service for the city as well as outside community service that makes her the best candidate.