OPINION: We have a tempestuous battle brewing in the local Peachtree City elections. You could not have two more clear-cut factions to choose from. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.
On one side, you have what I call “Team Urban Plan for PTC.” On the other side, you have what I call “Team Save Our Planning and Quality of Life.” Whoever lands a majority gets to control the city’s direction.
Team Urban Plan for PTC has co-captains Mayor Kim Learnard and Plan for PTC political action committee Chairwoman Emily Winkle. Plan for PTC is a secretive local political group and is a registered political committee with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office (see: https://thecitizen.com/2021/07/28/plan-for-ptc-pac-funding-candidates-intent-on-remaking-peachtree-city/). Their team is Tamara Moore and Victor Painter.
Team Save Our Planning and Quality of Life has three candidates, Eric Imker, Suzanne Brown (no relation), and Laura Johnson.
Learnard is feeling mighty threatened as she loses her fellow pro-annexation and multi-family complex members on the city council Mike King and Phil Prebor, knowing the two remaining incumbents on council Clint Holland and Frank Destadio want to maintain our award-winning traditional planning.
Unless you have been sleepwalking through the last four to six years, you will already know that a band of elected officials took office and began the “urbanization movement” in Peachtree City. It started in then-Mayor Vanessa Fleisch’s administration and the Livable Centers Initiative then the torch was passed to Mayor Kim Learnard.
Down and dirty
Learnard is on the attack. She lambasted Councilman Holland in a nasty email that The Citizen was able to obtain (see: https://thecitizen.com/2023/10/20/mayor-kim-learnard-lays-down-the-law-to-councilman-holland/). Learnard cannot afford to lose her current majority.
In the email to Holland, Learnard goes into cruel and vicious mode, pelting him with distasteful remarks, accusing him of “ignorant blather” and calling others “vile, disgusting liars.”
What heinous crime did Holland commit that would cause the mayor to spew such vitriol? He simply wrote a polite letter of endorsement for candidate Suzanne Brown (see: https://thecitizen.com/2023/10/17/letter-councilman-holland-endorses-suzanne-brown-for-peachtree-city-council-post-2/).
The absurdity of Learnard’s revolting light her hair on fire email is clear when the reader discovers that Holland never once mentions Learnard in his letter of endorsement for Suzanne Brown. To all-out deflect from key issues in this election, Learnard, once again, makes all kinds of accusations while at the same time charging Holland with making accusations that were never made.
Learnard has a habit of trying to bully her fellow members of the city council. She refuses to allow an opposing point of view. Her pattern of excessive attention-seeking behavior and excessive desire for public approval leads her to create a lot of drama on the dais and behind the scenes.
Eric Imker has had his signs removed from numerous sites in the city. Imker was granted permission to display the signs, but when he returned to the locations his signs were gone, and “Tamara Moore” signs were in their place (see: https://thecitizen.com/2023/10/12/council-candidate-imker-stop-stealing-my-campaign-signs/).
Moore claims to have no knowledge of Imker’s signs being stolen but cannot explain how her signs replaced his in various locations.
In a “destroy the messenger” strategy, fake Facebook accounts are displaying fake mock-up photos of Facebook comments they claim are from me. The fake comments include racial slurs, bogus comments on various candidates, and other vulgar remarks. You will know the comments are fakes because they never include the link to the comment so you cannot go to the fake account page, thus providing only a photo of the phony commentary they claim is real.
The fake accounts have free rein on the local Facebook page “Life in the PTC Bubble 2” where the moderator allows such transgressions against unknowing people. It’s the only page that consents to aggressive and deliberate provocation of others.
Time to compare
Team Save Our Planning and Quality of Life candidates, Eric Imker, Suzanne Brown, and Laura Johnson have run upright and respectable campaigns. Each of them answered all the questions on key issues from The Citizen. Additionally, they all listed specific issues of concern and offered clear responses on how they would vote on those issues.
Here is the link for Imker’s responses to the candidate questions: https://thecitizen.com/2023/10/13/eric-imker-answers-candidate-questions-from-the-citizen/
Here is the link for Johnson’s responses to the candidate questions:
Here is the link for Brown’s responses to the candidate questions:
It gets tumultuous with the candidates sponsored by Team Urban Plan for PTC. Tamara Moore and Victor Painter campaigned as a team with joint campaign events and internet announcements.
Tamara Moore was a founding member of the pro-stacked-multi-family housing complex political action committee Plan for PTC. Moore and Painter received sizable checks from Plan for PTC Chairwoman Emily Winkle.
Unfortunately, both Moore and Painter refused to answer any of the questions from The Citizen (see: https://thecitizen.com/2023/10/16/opinion-what-candidates-tamara-moore-and-vic-painter-are-hoping-you-dont-discover/). Obviously, they avoided the questions to prevent having to disclose their positions on the issues. In fact, until the criticism began mounting for avoiding the newspaper’s candidate questions, neither Moore nor Painter had listed any positions at all on their campaign sites.
Moore commented The Citizen “questions were already biased against myself and Painter.” Now, why would the questions be biased against Team Urban Plan for PTC (Moore and Painter)? Could the questions be considered “biased” because neither Moore nor Painter wanted to admit they supported Plan for PTC’s construction of dense stacked multi-family complexes and large annexations for residential use, draining our city services and creating the need for continued tax increases?
Let’s be honest, they are connected to the political action committee. If you take the money, you owe it.
In claiming that The Citizen was biased against the team of Moore and Painter, Moore said, “I don’t play games and I refuse to give them any words that they will just use against me.” She continued, “In his email to us personally, [The Citizen] Owner and Editor Mr. Beverly writes the following directional biased phrase: ‘…so please answer with details and specificity, rather than in sweeping strokes and broad (and usually worthless) generalities. There are no word limits on your answers, other than your sympathy for the reader.’”
I am not sure how any rational voter could deduce that a newspaper editor asking for specificity on candidate responses and offering unlimited space for each answer is “biased.”
Painter spent a substantial amount of campaign cash on a color postcard mailed to register voters. It has some nice color photos of the Painter’s family and his dog. What it does not have is any meaningful positions on the important issues The Citizen asked the candidates about.
Both Moore and Painter launched Facebook ads that do not address The Citizen candidate questions on annexation and mixed-use residential complexes over retail stores (see the questions here: https://thecitizen.com/2023/10/05/questions-for-peachtree-city-council-candidates-from-the-citizen/). They are wanting you to vote based on color photographs of them in various settings.
Two distinct options
This is one election where the votes have two very different options on the ballot.
Post 2 race:
Team Save Our Planning and Quality of Life:
Suzanne Brown — A vocal citizens’ advocate, attending city meetings for years, alerting local residents and subdivisions of harmful actions taken by the city government, opposed new multi-family complexes and residential units above retail in the village centers, and no affiliations with special interest groups.
Team Urban Plan for PTC:
Victor Painter — A banking leader who has potential conflicts of interest with developers who have or seek accounts or loans with the bank, new to politics, worked with his subdivision to reduce cut-through traffic, no previous activity on local government issues. He refused to answer questions regarding annexation, apartment and mixed-use development construction approvals, and received a large campaign contribution from the chairwoman of the pro-urbanization political action committee Plan for PTC.
Post 1 race:
Team Save Our Planning and Quality of Life:
Eric Imker — The only candidate with previous city council experience and a council voting record. He mainly focuses on budget issues and has no affiliations with special interest groups.
Laura Johnson — New to politics, stresses sticking to the “village concept” of development, wants to maintain the preservation of city greenspaces, is vague on her platform issues, and has no affiliations with special interest groups.
Team Urban Plan for PTC:
Tamara Moore — New to politics, no previous activity on local government issues other than wanting to name the library after her mother. She refused to answer questions regarding annexation, apartment and mixed-use development construction approvals, and received a large campaign contribution from the chairwoman of the pro-urbanization political action committee Plan for PTC.
You choose the direction. Go vote.
[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. You can read all his columns by clicking on his photo below.]