In Peachtree City, three candidates qualified to run for City Council Post 1: the incumbent Phil Prebor, and two challengers, Morgan Hallmon and Oobi Childs.
Below are the questions and the responding candidates’ answers:
Peachtree City Council Post 1
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 Peachtree City and why are you running for public office this year?
OOBI CHILDS — I am Oobi Childs, Peachtree City Council Post 1 candidate. I’m also a business owner, wife, mother, and have lived in PTC for 11 years.
I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA where I started work at age 15 while in high school. Throughout my life, I have landed in leadership positions because of my ability to think independently, make effective decisions, problem solve, and “do the right thing” over what most often is an easier path.
I was a global logistics manager for 13 years where I practiced lean manufacturing, managed large scale projects on time and on budget, and responsibly managed cost centers to avoid overspend.
I helped teams and organizations start with “Why,” to understand the value and purpose of what they were doing, focus on the “how” to do it together to achieve the “what,” which was the ultimate outcome we were looking for.
Like having the moxie to stand up for what’s “right,” I am not afraid of challenge and calculated risk, so I launched a career and business as a professionally accredited home stager which allows me to feed my passion for design. I also hold a real estate license, mainly for investing, so my husband and I can one day retire free of financial worry.
There were several catalysts that fueled my decision to run for Peachtree City Council: Inequity in pay for our public safety men and women, irresponsible spending by current Council, and ill-advised agenda items like stifling free speech with tax-dollar-funded lawsuits against citizens.
We need to ask ourselves, why are some communities more innovative, more influential, more collaborative, more profitable, and more financially responsible than others? Why do some city government members command greater loyalty from community and peers alike?
I will quote Simon Sinek: “They all started with why.” I want to bring the problem solving and “start with why” mentality to our city government because I care so much about this amazing community I call home.
MORGAN HALLMON — My name is Morgan Hallmon. I am 75 years old. I grew up in a working class family in Washington, D.C., and attended local public schools. I worked my way through college, completing my undergraduate work at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. I served in the U.S. Army and received a Bronze Star.
Upon returning to the U.S., I pursued an MBA degree at Columbia University in the city of New York and subsequently obtained a Juris Doctor degree at Georgetown University.
My first full-time job was at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where a major assignment was a detail to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. There I worked on strategies for the economic development of new towns and communities.
I was the first full-time Director of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. I spent about ten years working as a financial analyst and manager at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, which included a six-month detail as an officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
I am currently a retired attorney (September 30, 2015) from the Office of Chief Counsel for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
My most memorable experience there was providing legal advice to a team (for which we received a Departmental Gold award) working on a plan to reduce the cost of the 2020 Census by at least a billion (billion with a “b”) dollars.
I am currently Vice President of the Smokerise Plantation Homeowners Association. My wife and I purchased a home in Peachtree City in December 2014; however, we officially moved our furnishings down in May 2016.
I am running for public office this year because I believe Peachtree City is at a critical juncture in its development where it can remain the unique gem in the Atlanta metropolitan area or become a victim to the classic suburban urban sprawl of our region.
Since I am retired, I have no conflicting agenda. Well, I do have one hidden agenda: to protect and preserve Peachtree City as a beautiful place to live, work, dine, play and to have a family.
PHIL PREBOR (incumbent) — In 2015 I was elected to the Peachtree City Council. It has been a great honor to serve in this position. I am asking you to allow me to serve again as I am seeking re-election.
Like many of us, my young family and I moved to Peachtree City when I was hired by Delta Air Lines in 1991. We had compared the quality of life in numerous areas around Atlanta and immediately and unanimously fell in love with Peachtree City.
I have three adult children and two grandchildren, all of whom are happy and healthy. I am a widower; my wife recently passed away after her long battle with breast cancer.
Before Delta, I worked for Eastern Airlines as an aircraft maintenance supervisor. Before Eastern, I was with Piper Aircraft as an inspector.
After being furloughed by Delta in 1994, I started Routine Maintenance Inc., a remodeling repair business based here in Peachtree City. I also own an RV storage company with multiple locations.
I graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing. I have always been interested in exploring how various business models operate. Effective government depends on sound and conservative business practices.
I am running for office to continue my hard work of the last four years of maintaining and improving our city. Because I have two companies relying on Peachtree City residents as stakeholders, I have a vested interest in making certain that the important decisions affecting our city are deliberated with consideration to the long-term ramifications.
2. How many City Council meetings have you attended or viewed?
CHILDS — I think what’s pertinent is my understanding of dysfunction and how that impacts every citizen who calls Peachtree City home. Reckless spending, thoughtless agenda items, and high-level management of serious issues like traffic and infrastructure result in community frustration, citizens looking at alternative places to live, and leave us all wondering where our tax dollars are being allocated. I’ve attended meetings, watched others online, and read enough minutes to know that change is desired and needed.
HALLMON — I have attended several City Council meetings, including one budget workshop. I have made presentations at some of these meetings. For example, I presented the views of our HOA regarding the impact of annexations on the eastern boundary of Ga. Highway 54 on the volume and speed of traffic on our subdivision streets and the need for a lower speed limit within our subdivision.
I also voiced opposition to the massive housing complex to be known as Calistoa and developed at the end of an active runway at Falcon Field.
Most recently (October 3), I spoke in opposition to a rezoning of industrial land near Kelly Drive and Dividend Drive. My opposition is based on the fact that I believe approval would establish a dangerous legal precedent that could place our undeveloped industrial land at risk and contribute to further traffic congestion in certain neighborhoods. The rezoning was approved unanimously by the Council.
PREBOR — I have attended, streamed or participated in well over 100 Council meetings. In 2012, I volunteered to be on the Needs Assessment Committee. This is when I first delved into the city budget to assess detailed costs of services objectively.
In 2014, I continued my service by volunteering to be on the Peachtree City Planning Commission.
After years of learning much of the inner workings of our city, I felt qualified to run for office in 2015.
The job requires a lot of logic and critical thinking skills. The nature of my business has me in contact with citizens throughout our city each and every day. Most of my customers and friends are as passionate as I am about our city and are eager to share their opinions. This allows me to gain perspective from a large pool of residents.
3. What’s your top agenda item? What will you do about that?
CHILDS — Infrastructure and traffic seem to be top of mind for almost everyone in PTC. How could it not, we have all experienced the pains of 54/74, Peachtree Parkway, and for me personally the cut-through traffic in my neighborhood due to people trying to avoid the masses.
We need to look at alternative and creative ways to solution our traffic issues like collaborating with DOT Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle and her regional engineers, neighboring city councils, and getting our county commissioners on board to support recommended changes.
Peachtree City may be referred to as “The Bubble,” but we cannot continue to make decisions myopically like we live in one. There are too many outside contributors that impact us and vice versa. Those need to be addressed.
HALLMON — My top agenda item is transportation — a topic I am sure most residents of Peachtree City have heard much about over the last several years. When we moved to Peachtree City a few years ago, my wife had a seven minute rule: “You can go anywhere in the city in seven minutes.” Now, I struggle to get to Home Depot in 20 minutes at noon!
Many Council candidates often contend that there is little that we can do about transportation, other than increasing the number of turning lanes on highways 54 and 74 and increasing the total number of lanes on both of these roads. I disagree.
We are not potted plants. Either we can contribute to finding viable solutions to this issue or we will be overwhelmed (strangled) by increasing traffic volumes. Peachtree City should be a destination rather than a transit route between Fayetteville and Coweta County. Expanding Hwy. 54 and Hwy. 74 to four or six lanes is not the answer and neither is increasing the speed limit.
The transportation issue is not a problem that Peachtree City and Fayette County can solve alone. A regional approach is necessary and requires the participation of PTC, Tyrone, Brooks, Fayette County, Coweta County and the state.
For example, we should be looking at a circumference road that would preserve the integrity and small town feel of PTC and eliminate the need for massive expansion of Hwy. 54 and Hwy. 74.
Further, in the absence of a regional solution, there will be increasing pressure on our neighborhood streets as cut-through routes to avoid traffic congestion.
If I am successful in my candidacy, my principal goal will be to coordinate the formation of an inter-county governmental group to plan (in coordination with GDOT) the building of either a bypass or circumference road to relieve pressure on Hwy. 54 and 74.
PREBOR — My top agenda item is traffic.
Our number one issue continues to be the traffic at Ga. highways 54/74. I support transportation plans that include additional east/west and north/south routes. This is a regional problem that requires cooperation from the Ga. Dept. of Transportation (GDOT) and all other stakeholders including Coweta County, Fayette County, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and Three Rivers Regional Commission.
GDOT has approved a CFI (Continuous Flow Intersection) for the Hwy. 54/74 interchange. Although traffic studies showing this as helpful, it is not a total solution. We must continue to look for alternative routes.
One area, I will not support is the TDK Extension. Although this route could relieve some of the east-west traffic, it would be at the expense of Crosstown Road and the neighborhoods east of Peachtree Parkway. TDK Extension could quickly become another traffic issue. We would be adding infrastructure costs without the benefit of ad valorem taxes. Meanwhile, Coweta would continue growing at our expense. I will continue to work with the various stakeholders to seek long term solutions.
4. What two other issues in Peachtree City concern you the most? Please be specific about how you would approach those issues.
CHILDS — I have a few:
We need to think carefully about economic development and land use as we have over stretched our city services with rezoning and ill-planned residential development. The city should have a clear vision outlined that our mission works to support. Currently, we have a mission absent of vision and no core values which should be our guiding principles. Community vision, organizational mission and core values are essential elements for performance excellence.
Our local heroes! We owe it to our Public Safety men and women to ensure they are compensated fairly by looking at salary benchmark data to include location (higher taxes) and develop recruitment and retention strategies that could include things like discounted city services and continued training to up-skill the police and fire/EMT workforce. And we owe it to our residents who pay a premium to live here and expect a certain level of investment from the men and women providing these services.
Lastly, but certainly not least is fiscal responsibility. There are many examples of blatant mismanagement of funds where there should be a much higher level of scrutiny. The Drake Field Pavilion and Glenloch Splash Park are just two examples of gross overspending. We need to demand accountability of decisions and have controls in place to prevent unnecessary overspend.
HALLMON — Two additional issues of concern to me are saving Lake Kedron and preserving the village concept. Lake Kedron is a major waterway in our city and serves as an anchor for several of our villages. Additionally, it has the potential to affect our quality of life and property values.
Yet, Lake Kedron is dying — a victim of both neglect and indifference. My neighbors tell me that twenty years ago, there was not an island in the lake on the eastern side of Peachtree Parkway. Stormwater drains are dumping gallons of debris and silt into the lake. Soon it may be possible for me to walk across the lake and visit my neighbors on the other side.
Lake Kedron (along with Lake McIntosh) are located in Peachtree City but owned by the County. Our city leaders have been advocating for only Lake Peachtree, which was recently dredged at the county’s expense. Conversely, Lake Kedron is badly in need of dredging and/or bank restoration. Lake Kedron is also in need of proper stormwater management by the City.
If I am successful in being elected to the City Council, I promise to advocate for the proper management and maintenance of all of our lakes, including those owned by the county. Specifically, we should be working with the county to ensure that it accepts responsibility for dredging the lake to remove the silt and debris that have washed into the lake over the last twenty or more years.
Also, I would ensure that the city properly maintains its stormwater management system to capture most of the organic matter (e.g., leaves) and other matter (e.g., trash) before they reach the lake.
With respect to preserving the village concept, I will forcefully advocate for the Council to take in consideration the traffic impact and provisions for commercial/retail space of all future housing development in the city so that we can prevent the creation of another “food desert” like the one on MacDuff Parkway where the City Council recently and unanimously consented to a developer’s request to eliminate commercial/retail space in exchange for 42 townhomes.
PREBOR — Infrastructure maintenance:
During my time on council, we have changed our approach to infrastructure maintenance. In the past, maintenance was not included in PTC’s annual budget, allowing our assets to deteriorate beyond the point of easy, affordable routine maintenance. Past councils were forced to borrow millions of dollars in the form of bonds to perform needed repairs. This includes (but was not limited to) foreseeable things like roofs, roads, cart paths, and painting.
I am committed to using today’s technology and business analysis tools to objectively evaluate short and long term costs on all decisions made.
Property values and quality of life:
Home values are a good indicator of how well a city is functioning. Houses in Peachtree City are still in high demand and I am committed to keeping it that way. Our quality of life is derived from many sources including education, low crime, quality first responders, recreation facilities, multi-use paths, code enforcement, and a sense of community that all contribute to make Peachtree City a great place to live.
I will continue to look at the key indicators and make necessary adjustments to ensure we are maintaining or improving these qualities. I have been diligently working towards these goals as a top priority during my first term.
5. What is your vision for the future of Peachtree City?
CHILDS — A desirable and safe place to live, work, play and stay. A diverse community with jobs, top notch schools, shopping, and citizens who appreciate our city employees. A place where nearly every recreational activity is available, and our wonderful golf cart mode of transportation is utilized to its fullest potential because we have a well-maintained system of cart paths. There is no way to move forward without change. We just need to ensure that the changes we make are aligned with the vision of our desired community. I want to ensure I help define that vision and mission and ensure we are doing what is right to move us forward in the right ways.
Peachtree City, I’m passionate about driving positive change from a seat on council. I’m also confident that my leadership background mentioned earlier has prepared me for the complexities of city government. I’m an agent for change and it would be my privilege to serve as a conservative voice of reason for the community. I hope to have your vote on Nov. 5th!
HALLMON — My vision for Peachtree City is that it remains true to its planned community roots, while managing change — nothing remains the same. I do not want to live in Buckhead but I want some of the ambiance of Buckhead, but with livable neighborhoods with good schools, well-maintained lakes, roads and golf cart paths and lots of green space and motorized vehicles moving gently through our spaces.
We will probably have to add some walkable spaces to retain and attract more young adults. Stated differently, I want Peachtree City to remain the gem of our region — offering the best of suburban and big city living.
I need your help to pursue an agenda to save Peachtree City. Please visit my website (www.morganhallmon.com) for further statements on my views and ways to further my campaign. In-person early voting starts on October 15 (since Columbus Day is both a federal and state holiday) and continues through November 1 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular in-person voting will occur on Election Day (November 5, 2019). I ask for your support and your vote.
PREBOR — The city is a business. As with any business, evolving is key to survival. I want to see the demand for our great city continue to increase. We can only achieve this if we stay focused on what distinguishes us from other municipalities.
By keeping a high-quality way of life, we continue to attract residents and corporations that want to relocate to Peachtree City. This, in turn, spurs the revitalization we are experiencing of our older neighborhoods and industrial park.
My vision is that we continue functioning at a high level with a stable local government so that leaders from corporations and outsiders recognize that we are the premier community in the region.