PTC’s Imker to run again; 2nd candidate announces for seat Sturbaum is vacating

With qualifying for two seats on the Peachtree City Council starting Monday at 8:30 a.m., the question on the minds of political observers is: “Who’s in?”

This week, Smokerise resident Scott Brown became the latest resident to throw his hat in the ring, declaring his candidacy for the Post 2 seat currently being held by Doug Sturbaum.

Sturbaum, citing family reasons, has said he will not seek re-election. And Peachtree City resident George Dienhart last week became the first candidate to announce he would seek Sturbaum’s Post 2 seat.

Also Tuesday, Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker confirmed that he will indeed run for re-election. No other candidates have come forward so far for Imker’s Post 1 seat.

Qualifying for the two council seats starts 8:30 a.m. Monday at City Hall, continuing during regular business hours through 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. The qualifying fee is $180.

Brown, the newest Post 2 candidate, owns his own architectural drafting business which he runs out of his home.

Brown said he decided to run for office after becoming concerned over budget issues due to the property tax increase enacted last year.

“I’ve always complained about the way that our tax dollars were being spent. So I guess everybody told me to quit complaining and do something about it. So I’m trying to do something about it.”

Brown also noted that many residents have been talking about the “personality debate” that has been occurring more frequently among council members.

“They really have gotten too much into that,” Brown said. “It kind of put me off that the mayor walked out on one of the votes. But I’m not running for the mayor’s seat. ... I won’t tell everybody I can fix that.”

Brown said that other than having met Councilman Eric Imker “once or twice,” he does not know any of the current council members.

Brown said he also wants to make sure that the city doesn’t look at adopting regulations that would curtail citizens’ rights to free speech.

Brown, like Dienhart, is also a political newcomer but is no stranger to the community, having served as a T-ball and soccer coach for his son’s teams, as well as serving on the board of the Peachtree City Tea Party group. Brown said he has not been active in the Tea Party group for about a year, and he does not claim to be the favored candidate of the local tea party either.

Brown has owned his own business for the past 12 years. Prior to that he worked as an architect for a manufacturing firm.

Post 1 officeholder Imker said the main reason he is running for re-election is to continue the city’s efforts to stay on track financially.

Imker said although last year’s 1.25 mill tax increase was not his first choice, the city is in the position where it can eliminate smaller tax increases in the future.

“But we need to be ever-vigilant, looking at the future, not at the past,” Imker said. “I see the city’s financial picture as very bright and we just need to make sure we stay the course.”

Imker pointed out that this year council declined to raise property taxes and also avoided a $3 million shortfall while also paying about $1.4 million into the city reserves.

The financial turnaround was due to the effort of council and city staff “coming together to make this work,” Imker said.

Imker acknowledged that some of the budget cuts he has proposed created some heartache, but he feels they helped raise awareness to the city’s budget problems so they could be addressed.

Post 2 candidate George Dienhart, meanwhile, is aiming to shake things up. Dienhart has named his campaign website “SavePTC.com” to emphasize how crucial the election is from his standpoint.

“This city is at a turning point,” Dienhart said in an announcement. “The decisions we make over the next few years will determine whether this city continues to be the beautiful place to live it is today, or spirals down into an overtaxed and undervalued town with a continually shrinking tax base.”

On the website, Dienhart says he thinks the city can enact further spending cuts and temporary service reductions to balance the city’s budget without tax increases. As an example, he noted the city can begin to purchase smaller, economical cars instead of large sport utility vehicles.

A single father of four, Dienhart was the first citizen to announce his campaign for a council seat.

The city’s general election is slated for Nov. 8, but the polls will be open early in advance for voters who don’t want to wait until then. The election will again be operated by the Fayette County Board of Elections on behalf of the city.

If no candidate in either one of the posts gains more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held Tuesday, Dec. 6.

The final day for voters to register to vote in this election is Oct. 11, 2011.

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