By Debbie Johnson
I love local elections because once we elect someone in them, we get to see how they lead almost immediately. For this reason, I love the debates. Most have clear winners and clear losers. The Austell debate with the mayoral candidates certainly did. Let’s break it down.
Ollie Clemons was appointed mayor by Joe Jerkins when he retired. When asked questions he seemed elusive and vague. He offered no thoughts or ideas on what needed to change or be fixed. He appeared void of ideas. I was not impressed. He mentioned new business and cited a couple that were there before he took office 3 months ago.
Chris Djonis is young, his father has a large construction company that isn’t in Austell and he works for his dad. His gifts were to point out what is wrong with Austell, throw blame around like confetti, and avoid ideas that might better the city in any way. He showed disdain for the previous mayor, Joe Jerkins.
Ikaika Anderson is the youngest candidate. He’s a local small business owner who is passionate about the local school system. He works part time for the Cobb County School system. He seemed sincere but unprepared for the debate. I couldn’t tell if he had brought notes for the debate.
Cindy Thompson came with notes, ideas, and solutions to issues facing Austell today. She wants to sell the city, grow tourism, yes tourism. Concerts, fairs, craft shows, car shows, etc, and better use of city properties. She shared her business, financial, and leadership credentials. She also made me believe in her passion for the city. Public safety is very high on her priorities as well.
In conclusion: The difference between a thermometer and a thermostat is the thermometer can tell you there is a problem. The thermostat can tell you the problem but can also fix the problem. Ms Thompson is clearly a thermostat. Our poll showed her winning by a comfortable margin.
Like all elections, the ones for council members and mayors have consequences. City council and mayor elections are especially important because the decisions made by city leaders directly impact residents every day. Austell has not enjoyed the economic success of other metro Atlanta cities, and that’s a direct result of stagnant leadership. It isn’t so much that the leadership of the recent past had a poor agenda, but that it had no portion of its agenda focused on serving the interests of its citizens. Hopefully the citizens of Austell are ready to get off the train that’s dead on the tracks, and get on the one that will move ahead on the way to revitalization and economic improvement. We’ll find out on November 5th.