Look alive, Cobb – Clear eyes, full hearts

The thing I’ve found true of every political situation is that if you pull and follow the tiniest thread, you realize it stretches across a lot of tapestries. That’s Cobb – everything’s connected.

There’s a LOT going on in my little slice of heaven. One of them happens to be the race for Chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners. It’s fitting that the vote is on the same day as the TSPLOST vote because that’s largely what the chairman’s race centers around.

There are four candidates running: Tim Lee, Bill Byrne, Mike Boyce, and Larry Savage. Another way to say it: a Pro-TSPLOST incumbent and the three men with roughly the same message trying to defeat him. As a Cobb resident, my taxes were raised three times last year, and I will say I could support any candidate who’s committed to keeping Cobb fiscally conservative.

Cobb has five commissioners: four districts plus the chairman.  And while the commissioners appear on the ballot as four Republicans and one Democrat, the votes are usually 3-2 for tax increases instead of choosing from a long list of cuts recommended by the Citizen Oversight Committee.

I attended the candidate forum last Wednesday night at the East Cobb Library.  Each candidate weighed in on twelve questions.  I won’t bore you with listing the questions or their responses, but I was able to decide who gets my vote.  I will keep that personal opinion off the front page, but for any voters against the TSPLOST, you’ll want to pay attention to this race.

As mentioned, the TSPLOST vote happens to be on the same day as the Chairman’s race – July 31.  Soon.  The incumbent is heartily backed by the Cobb Chamber.  And while I think it’s vital to Cobb’s success that the Chairman has a good relationship with the Chamber, my point is that this brings the incumbent a lot of resources the other candidates don’t have.  The most recent Cobb SPLOST won by 79 votes.  Add in the Untie Cobb marketing onslaught leading up to July 31, and the political consultant who delivered the Cobb SPLOST victory with targeted voter turnout could potentially deliver the incumbent a 50+1 victory.

As I chatted at the monthly Cobb GOP breakfast this past Saturday, there was a general expectation that “of course it’ll go into a runoff”, but I’m not convinced.  In another tapestry, this thread weaves over into the potential of Cobb suing if TSPLOST passes; the safety net.  It is my understanding that Cobb can only sue by a majority vote of the Board of Commissioners.  I’m sure some of you attorney types can confirm or deny.  No runoff puts a bit of a kibosh to a favorable 3-2 vote.

This isn’t new information for the TIA team.  I don’t, however, think the Cobb grassroots folks have given this race the weight and recognition it deserves.  My hope is that the fiscally conservative candidates get some resources from concerned parties…quickly.  Political consultants and volunteers unite.  We’ve got work to do.



  1. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Cobb is getting the biggest raw deal out of this TIA/T-SPLOST thing with nearly $700 million going to build a light rail line of which 95% is located in the City of Atlanta/Fulton County and all so that some clowns at a struggling Cumberland Mall can feel slightly better amount themselves.

    • SmyrnaSAHM says:

      I am curious as to why you qualify Cumberland Mall as “struggling.”

      I also continue to wonder why a lot of folks describe the proposed rail line as a “train to nowhere.” How does one qualify either the Cumberland area or Midtown Atlanta as “nowhere?”

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “I am curious as to why you qualify Cumberland Mall as “struggling.””

        Cumberland Mall is often qualified as struggling because, while it may not be in the same class of shopping mall as a Shannon Mall, a Greenbriar Mall, a North DeKalb Mall, a South DeKalb Mall or even a Gwinnett Place Mall, Cumberland Mall is obviously not the hot property that it was in the 1970’s and 80’s before Town Center Mall opened.

        Cumberland Mall has basically been a state of slow decline in both prominence and stature since Town Center Mall opened in 1986, a slow decline which has been aggravated by the recent openings of both the Avenue East Cobb and Avenue West Cobb lifestyle centers along east and west Hwy 120, respectively.

        It’s no secret that the powers-that-be in the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce and in the Cumberland CID (Cumberland Community Improvement District) are pushing the highly-flawed and misguided Midtown-to-Cumberland light rail line because they think that rail transit line access will bring the same level of retail success to Cumberland Mall that Lenox Square Mall enjoys in Buckhead while helping to turn Cobb Parkway into something that is akin to Peachtree Street through Buckhead.

        The perception of the Cumberland CID and the Cobb Chamber is that a great deal of Lenox’s success is because of access to and from the nearby MARTA line.

        The only problem with that logic is that the Cumberland area is NOT Buckhead and Cobb Parkway is NOT Peachtree Road.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “I also continue to wonder why a lot of folks describe the proposed rail line as a “train to nowhere.” How does one qualify either the Cumberland area or Midtown Atlanta as “nowhere?””

        Many people in Cobb and OTP Northwest Metro Atlanta describe the proposed rail line as a train to nowhere and object to the line being funded by Cobb County taxpayers mainly because the first leg of the line is slated to be between Cumberland Mall and Midtown along I-75 Inside-the-Perimeter with subsequent legs of the proposed line up 41 to Kennesaw not opening for many years afterward while the worst rush hour traffic congestion problems occur on I-75 Outside-the-Perimeter from Acworth down to the Cobb Cloverleaf and across the Top End of I-285 over to the Hwy 400/Perimeter Center/Dunwoody area.

        Many Cobbers also object strongly to the line because it would be slated to continue up the low-density, auto-oriented Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway corridor that would be best utilized as a super-arterial with express lanes.

        While the prospect of rail transit isn’t all that hot of an idea in Cobb County, many (though most certainly not all) Cobbers that have long had an aversion to rail transit, especially MARTA or rail transit that connects directly to MARTA, have been forced to begrudingly accept rail transit as a possible transportation solution due to the horrendous traffic congestion that plagues the county’s undersized road grid that has been made almost completely inadequate after five decades of explosive growth that have turned the county from an exurban bedroom community into an increasingly urban core county of Metro Atlanta.

        Much to the dismay of those who still view Cobb as an suburban bedroom community that is exurban in nature and far-removed from the urban ills of the City of Atlanta, if there has to be rail transit in Cobb County, it would be implemented and operated within (but not necessarily on the existing tracks) the CSX-Western & Atlantic rail corridor that runs right by the Cumberland Mall area and directly through the densely-developed and densely-populated historic downtown/village areas of Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth while still running directly parallel to the most severely-congested section of I-75 that is Outside-the-Perimeter.

        The development and population density along the Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway is not conducive to sustaining a rail transit line over the long-term, even with the very heavy tax subsidies that will be required to implement and sustain it.

        A rail transit line along the CSX-W&A corridor has a much, much higher chance of being not only sustainable over the long run, but also likely self-sustaining as that existing rail corridor serves an area with much higher population and development density.

  2. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    After seeing those “Mike Chairman” black and white t-shirts at the East Cobb Civic Assoc meeting last week, I’ve decided to have “Mao Chairman” shirts made in black and white, only the reverse of Boyce’s.

    It was a fascinating forum actually. I thought the MDJ did a pretty good write up-but they left all the personality out of the event. Such as the average age=62, zero clapping and or encouragement for any of the candidates or their answers, and the fact they felt they needed two police officers present.

  3. notsplost says:

    Thanks for shining a light on the important Cobb Commission Chair race.

    This is a very important race because of all the tax increases that are coming down the pike. In addition to the TSPLOST (Vote No!) we’ve got another general school SPLOST coming up in 2013.
    And I’m convinced that the property tax millage rate will be raised again if Tim Lee is re-elected. I suspect that he is shrewdly holding off on this until after the results of the July 31st election. Cobb property owners, get ready for an “August surprise”, perhaps just in time to jack up your bills for this year.

    The main problem with the opponents of Lee are that there are too many. Any of them would do a much better job and be much more fiscally conservative. I fear a scenario where the opposition is fractured and Lee squeaks by.

    • Bridget says:

      I completely agree. All three of the men are quality candidates with a heart to do the right thing for the county. I wish at least one of them would put their support behind another to strategically give us a better chance of having a fiscal conservative in office.

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