Caola out, Peachtree City Council down to 4 members; special election on Nov. 8

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ex-Councilwoman Gretchen Caola. Photo is from her first council meeting in early January 2022.
Ex-Councilwoman Gretchen Caola. Photo is from her first council meeting in early January 2022.

Former Peachtree City Council member Gretchen Caola is on her way to a new home on the west Florida Gulf Coast, and the Post 3 seat she held on council will be filled by special election on Nov. 8, the same day Georgia votes for its next governor and U.S. senator.

The reduced council — already with a new portrait on the city website that omits Caola — gathers in a special called meeting at 6:15 Tuesday, Aug. 30 at City Hall to declare the Post 3 seat open, to approve an agreement with Fayette County for the county to run the election, and to adopt a resolution to call for the one-item ballot to fill the vacancy on Post 3.

One short — The new portrait of Peachtree City Council members that appeared over the weekend shows the remaining members of the council, absent Gretchen Caola, who left her position.
One short — The “new” portrait of Peachtree City Council members that appeared over the weekend shows the remaining members of the council, absent Gretchen Caola, who left her position.The original is below.
Official portrait of the Peachtree City Council about eight months ago. (L-R) Mike King, Phil Prebor, Mayor Kim Learnard, Gretchen Caola and Frank Destadio.

Caola, who served just under eight months, was the subject of a neighborhood campaign with “Save our paths” signs at nearly every home near the Caola’s residence. Neighbors and hundreds of others objected to the short connecting cart path that ran next to the Caola residence being considered for closure and for the installation of multiple speed bumps in that area of the path in April. The council backed away from any notion of closure and removed many of the new speed bumps.

The Caolas put their house up for sale and closed on it by the end of last week. They reportedly moved to the Florida Gulf Coast.

So far, the city has not announced whether the council member resigned or just left town.

Whichever she did, the seat is open and it will cost taxpayers $48,509 to hold a special city election to fill the vacancy, according to invoices provided to the city by Fayette County. 

Qualifying with City Clerk opens 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 14 and closes Friday, Sept. 16, at 4:30 p.m. It will cost you $432 to qualify to run for the post.

In a Facebook posting about a neighborhood meeting, “Councilwoman Caola spoke about the golf cart speed bump issue that led to the firestorm surrounding her private property.

“Caola stated there was no private communication outside of texts and emails already disclosed, and John [sic] Rory specifically asked her to recommend speed bump placement.

“She stated all of the issues surrounding Battery Park were suggested before her election. Councilwoman Caola also divulged she had no conversations with anyone about the golf cart path beside her home. Instead, that communication was handled by her husband.

“She further mentioned that the city did have a history of closing some paths. Guests reminded her that the paths are city easements and when purchasing property, homeowners legally agree to these easement terms.

“She stated that the city attorney asked her not to speak publicly about the issues surrounding her. She spoke freely at this meeting.”

36 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe Gretchen Caola has an innocent explanation for her role in the attempted closure of the cart path. Maybe she has an innocent explanation for having so many speed bumps placed on the cart path, which (at least temporarily) effectively destroyed the most pleasant cart path ride in the city. Maybe she has an innocent explanation for playing a role in these so soon after she was elected to the city council. Maybe she has an innocent explanation for deciding to resign from office and move away only 8 months into her term, leaving the taxpayers on the hook for a massive special election bill.

    Or maybe not.

    • It’s not “doxxing” to share information that is public record.

      It’s weird the expectation of anonymity that people have in the Internet era which was not even remotely the case in the pre-internet era when everyone in your community was in a telephone directly delivered to your door every 6 months.

    • In this case, it would appear that she was not wrong. Delta tried to double dip and avoid paying one earned benefit by conflating it with another one. And it does not appear that the case was going well for Delta, although I cannot find the final order.

    • Pay your $450 and jump in the candidate ring. No one says “sorry, you can’t run because T-Bone vetted you”.

      Democracy, look it up.

      But possibly to your point how many voters take a hard look at credentials?

  2. The same people that are concerned about there being a cost to electing a new council person, maybe should have looked up that little tid bit before complaining. Thanks for dumping that cost on the taxpayers.

  3. Can we take down the signs now?

    This whole saga has been a runaway train. No doubt there were some missteps that should’ve been avoided but I’ve never seen so many people oblivious to many of the facts so anxious to crucify. Everyone seems to want to attack the easy target and totally ignore the role that Jon Rorie (ex city manager) played in this total embarrassment.*

    * I am speaking primarily about the speed bumps and not the cart path easement which was a separate issue

      • Neither but I did vote for her. There were a lot of us that did so. What’s your point? I’m just disappointed in the lack of civility that has been shown. I doubt that makes me a bad person. i’m not a big obfuscater But what a great word, good to see education front and center.

        • As such – you (and a lot of other people) made a serious error in your own judgement of who to vote for. Why on earth would someone with little/no experience in anything make a good representative? A Subway manager would at least know how a balance sheet functions, and not to do borderline illegal stuff.

          This absolutely did not get blown out of proportion – the councilwoman went rogue and crossed the lines inappropriately. Theres a chain of command for a reason. Theres a council for a reason. Next time just put more thought into “can this person actually do the job?”

          • Jon Rorie…do your own homework. Just sayin’

            Or, to steal A thought pattern from trails before Whales-maybe you are Jon or a close friend of his 🙂

          • Yea I’m not John Rorie, or his friend. Just a normal citizen that actually understands how local government works, that isn’t willing to brush malfeasance under the rug for the sake of my voter ego.

        • I do agree that all involved need to be held accountable, including this city manager and the mayor. They have been dismissive of citizens serious concerns and have tried since the beginning to cover this up and make it go away as quickly as possible rather than owning up to their misdeeds.

    • I believe that there is still a case that could be made against her. She used her position for personal gain. Benefitted greatly and decieved the public. She was caught making untrue statements in writing that the release of emails and texts disclosed. She left because she had to. Probably hoping this causes it to die and go away. Reality is that it doesnt relieve the money and labor spent and her agenda. God bless wherever they move to. She had a lot of issues in whitewater before PTC and lost a couple lawsuits at significant loss. This time it might be criminal even with her husband doing the dirty work they were both aware and she hardly recused herself when contacting the city to show them where she wanted the speedbumps placed.

      • She never even lived in Whitewater lol. Get your facts straight before you try to present yourself as an expert on an issue you know next to nothing about. Where do you get your info, The Facebook Post?

  4. I pray to God she isn’t moving to Santa Rosa Beach in Florida. Mike Huckabee created enough havoc with his lawsuit about people not being able to use the beach in front of his house.
    If she started more complaining about people being near her home I would leave!

    • I think they all should be removed. I know they were installed to slow carts down but in our experience the ones who are speeding don’t slow down for the bumps. They just fly over them as though they aren’t there. Is there any documentation from PTC that accidents have dropped since they started putting them in?
      They were a good experiment, but I agree they should go.

  5. Ding dong the witch is gone. Seriously her family went in with a personal agenda and cost the city at least 60k from her actions. She was corrupt. Lets hope her new neighbors know what they are getting.