Peachtree City Council Post 1 candidate Eric Imker provided these responses to questions posed by The Citizen:
What skill sets do you bring to the office?
Experience knowing the citizens don’t want Moore dense pack housing, Moore traffic and Moore taxes. That’s what they’ll get unless they vote for Imker. Also see answer to question #11.
2. Specifically, what differentiates you from your opponent(s)?
Experience managing large organizations with hundreds of employees. My opponents have never managed anything close to a million-dollar budget, nor worked with government entities, nor worked with land use ordinances nor worked solving traffic issues, etc. I have been successful and worked 100% for the citizens of Peachtree City. Every vote I ever took was in the best interests of our citizens. I will do that again.
3. List the top three problems facing Peachtree City and define exactly what you will do to solve those three problems.
Problem one is we have a group of radical people who want to turn Peachtree City into an Atlanta suburb.
We don’t need more dense pack housing of any kind. Nor should future annexations be for the purpose of adding costly dense pack housing. Our police and fire departments are already stretched too thin. And traffic is now at its brink.
If the other candidates think high density housing is what Peachtree City needs by way of more apartments and condos, there’s a city 20 miles north of us that has plenty of what you’re looking for. I will not allow our city to become a suburb of Atlanta.
One of my opponents comes from a group that supported the “Livable Cities Initiative” (LCI). Remember the Kedron Fieldhouse presentation where the idea was proposed of changing our green space along GA 54 into apartments and condos. Also remember the box that said, “None of the above” that got overwhelming support.
The LCI proposal would be a disaster for Peachtree City, not only for traffic but our city’s character as well. Make no mistake, if a majority on the city council is elected that thinks this is a good idea, this is what we’ll get.
I helped get both Council members Frank Destadio and Clint Holland elected because I knew they would push back against high density housing like I intend to do.
I have no clue as to why one of my opponents would want to do this nor the motive. Voting for Moore dense pack housing is in the cards unless you vote for Imker. You can’t vote for someone who is going to destroy the character of our city. Instead, vote Imker who will protect our green spaces.
Problem two is traffic. I have been proposing traffic solutions for over 10 years but the city council majority has mostly ignored them. Better controlling traffic signals west of the 74/54 intersection can help by making room for traffic to go through the intersection.
Having a dedicated right turn lane from 74 southbound to 54 westbound can help. Identifying other locations in the city where traffic is a problem and implementing solutions is required. I.e., Crosstown and Peachtree Parkway.
Problem three is property taxes. Continuous never ending tax increases need to stop. Something is wrong when you have eight consecutive yearly tax increases. SPLOST (the extra one cent tax on most items we buy in Fayette County) has been a game changer and will continue to be so in the future. It is a much better option for our citizens than mil rate tax increases.
SPLOST adds over $10 million a year to our budget (outside the General Fund) allowing us to catch up on much needed maintenance. However, we need better accountability of the “extra” millions and millions of dollars coming into our city annually. There is no excuse for constantly raising taxes when we have this sort of additional revenue and an overage of city budget reserves.
Folks who know me know I am a hawk when it comes to spending our citizens’ money. Rolling back the millage rate for Peachtree City property taxes can be done without diminishing services. I will get it done. That’s a promise. Tax bills are exploding when inflation and the economy are making life difficult. This is not the way to govern. Peachtree City has adequate cash reserves and can afford to roll back the millage rate to offset the increased property assessed values.
4. The council has three holdover members: Mayor Kim Learnard, and council members Frank Destadio and Clint Holland. Based on your knowledge of the council, who will you likely be voting with most often in split votes? Whose side will you take on the issues noted below?
I helped get both Council members Frank Destadio and Clint Holland elected because I knew they would do exactly what the citizens of Peachtree City want. I have been proven 100% right. I consider them great friends. We have and will work extremely well together.
As for the mayor, we worked together with great success during our six years on council together. I listened to her and she listened to me. We disagreed on certain issues (i.e., I was against the additional traffic light on GA 54 at The Overlook, I was against the additional dense pack housing on the west side) but we resolved our differences professionally. We came together on budget issues to resolve our city’s financial deficit in the early 2010s. We had to.
Bottom line, I will listen to all arguments on issues and will work for the best solution for our citizens. l have no other ulterior motive. Folks who know me know I’m not in it for any financial gain. Remember, I voted for and it passed to cut our city council salaries in half when our city needed the funds. I would do it again even now.
5. What is your exact position on allowing new multi-story mixed-use developments to be built or reconstructed in Peachtree City?
Absolutely NO to new dense pack housing. I encourage improvement on existing lots but I will not support higher density projects.
6. Does your definition of redevelopment of existing village centers include new multi-family apartments, or townhouses, or condominiums? If yes, where?
7. Please name the village centers in Peachtree City and what you think should happen in each of those places.
Aberdeen Shopping Center (Fresh Market) — No change but I’m interested in ideas the citizens may have.
Braelinn Shopping Center (Kroger) — Better traffic management on Crosstown Road. Perhaps find a fair tax incentive for the owner of the Kmart to get a business entity to move in. Gov’t should not be in the business of picking winners and losers of privately owned property. (I.e., the perfect example of gov’t getting involved was the placement of the additional traffic light on GA 54 at The Overlook. Peachtree City Council put in the traffic light against Georgia Dept of Transportation warnings because the privately owned property wanted “chosen” businesses to go in so the traffic light was added. This was so wrong.)
Kedron Shopping Center (Kroger) — No change but I’m interested in ideas the citizens may have.
Peachtree City East (Publix down to Sprouts) — No change but I’m interested in ideas the citizens may have.
Wilshire Pavilion Shopping Center (Publix South) — No change but I’m interested in ideas the citizens may have.
Finally, the entire area known as the Walmart area including all the businesses on GA 54 from The Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, The Overlook to MacDuff Crossing. We have to wait and see what happens with traffic after the 2+ years of turmoil that’s going to happen at the GA 54/74 intersection rebuild.
I’m afraid by the time the changes are made the traffic will have increased so as to have not have improved from the current situation. I will be realistic. Will my opponents?
8. The city is nearly built out within its current borders: the Industrial Park has no big tracts left to develop, and residential areas are at or near their zoned limits. What is your plan for what’s next?
I really don’t want to see more annexations. We are at our limit with police and fire coverage. Any consideration of annexations will be costly to the developer as I will want to see payment for new fire station(s) and more police as required. If those developments are for homes I will want to see minimum acreage lots.
Recall Peachtree City’s original idea was the further away from village centers the larger the lots. This seems to have been abandoned but I will encourage this plan again. If business or light industrial are interested in becoming part of our city I will want to see how it is advantageous for us in the long run. I don’t want to see short-term advantages that will cost us in the long term.
9. Make your case for why you would support or oppose any annexations, and why citizens should welcome or oppose them.
See last answer.
10. Place yourself on the political spectrum with 10 being far right, 1 being far left and 5 being the exact center. Yes, the office is officially nonpartisan, but every official ever elected to office occupies a spot on that ideological spectrum, whether the official admits it or not. We want to know where you actually are on that spectrum.
I am definitely on the Conservative side. I take it personally to look after every dollar of our citizen’s money to make sure it is well spent. When I see waste, I get rid of it.
I prefer government stay out of private citizens’ lives. Enforce the laws equally and fairly and don’t let the courts get away with diminishing our justice system.
However, on the other side I can say I’m more liberal when it comes to protecting our most precision possession — our children. Just a couple examples: I believe that all children should have access to childhood vaccines without charge. All children should have access to equal education opportunities and those that excel should be given the chance to go further.
11. What else would you like to tell the voters of Peachtree City?
I was elected to Peachtree City Council Post #1 in 2009 and voluntarily stepped aside in 2015 to let someone else run for office. My goal during those six short years was to get our city’s budget back under control during the worst financial times we’ve ever experienced. With help from many like-minded folks, we got it done.
When I left we had a balanced budget without future tax increases and without using city reserves. Nor did we lay off city employees. We kept raises in line with the economy at the time, which was a difficult thing to do.
A few other personal tidbits to get to know me: I’ve helped literally hundreds of our citizens with their Fair Market Value assessments on their homes in order to save them money on their property taxes. You may have seen my many posts on Facebook about this.
I am currently a substitute teacher in Fayette County having taught from 2nd Grade to Advance Placement Physics at McIntosh High School.
I am a Chaplain and have married people who live in Peachtree City. I am currently the Chaplain of the Masonic Lodge I belong to in Peachtree City.
I enjoy arranging activities for our city and have put together the annual Monopoly Tournament in Peachtree City since 2009 as well as the annual Golf Cart Scavenger Hunt.
I have a BS degree in Engineering (San Jose State University) and advanced degrees in Computer Systems (Air Force Institute of Technology) and Program Management (Defense Systems Management College). I enjoy giving 80s era Star Wars presentations at the Gathering Place on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission I managed while in the Air Force. I was awarded multiple medals in the Air Force including three(!) Meritorious Service Medals.
I’d love to share my ideas in person with you, your friends/neighbors, or even your HOA. And would love to hear yours.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Eric Imker for City Council Post #1
Thank you in advance for your vote and support.