Dienhart endorses Allen for PTC council seat
New councilman blames incumbent Imker for ‘council discord’
This much is sure: George Dienhart, running unopposed, will have a seat on the Peachtree City Council starting Jan. 1.The question remains as to who will win the other council race: sitting Post 1 councilman Eric Imker or challenger Steve Allen.
Dienhart, it turns out, says he would much rather work with Allen which, in Dienhart’s words, would give the city “two independent voters” on council.
Dienhart ran a campaign pledging in part to return civility to the city council. But some might think that his endorsement of Allen runs afoul of the concept of “getting along with others.”
Except for Dienhart’s assumption that Imker is a big source of the conflict among the city council.
“Everything I have seen and heard from the people I have talked to leads me to believe Eric is a big problem with the discord on the current city council,” Dienhart said. The voters can change that by electing “a good, responsible public servant in Steve Allen,” Dienhart added.
Dienhart said he thinks that both he and Allen will be “independent voters” on council, both striving to vote for what’s right for the city instead of voting with personality considerations in mind.
“I agree with Steve, and I do believe he has the best interests of the city at heart, and I do believe he will be a whole lot easier to work with for myself, councilmembers Learnard and Fleisch and the mayor, than Eric Imker would be.”
Although some of the disagreements on council have been fueled by Mayor Don Haddix, Dienhart said, “You just can’t pin this all on the mayor.”
Imker told The Citizen that he feels each sitting councilmember votes independently, making up their own minds.
“I’m sure that each of the five council members now vote the way they think is in the best interest of the city,” Imker said. “And I’m sure that Allen and Dienhart will do the same.”
Dienhart complimented Imker on his ability to identify budget cuts, but complained that Imker isn’t as focused on growing revenue, particularly in terms of business development.
In terms of avoiding conflict, Imker noted that he has “taken the high road” in not responding to the various political attacks from Mayor Haddix over the past several months.
“I trust the judgment of the citizens to understand what’s going on and realize they have a choice: fiscal responsibility or something else,” Imker said. “They know they get the fiscal responsibility with me.”
In a lively exchange with Haddix at a budget workshop earlier this year, Imker showed his theatrical flair after Haddix insisted that the budget projections for future years weren’t a factor in his fiscal decisions.
That led Imker to mock Haddix, putting a three-ring binder around his head, alleging that it was akin to “putting on blinders” and only looking at this budget year instead of trying to discern the impact this year’s budget would have on the fiscal picture in future years.
At that same meeting, fellow council members Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard also expressed frustration with Haddix’s lack of concern for future year budgets.
“Well I’m going to tell you if we decide we are not here to plan, then we deserve to go broke,” Learnard said.
Haddix was contending at the meeting that the city’s five-year financial model only consisted of “projections” that should not lock the city into spending decisions, particularly when it comes to the ability of future councils to adopt annual budget plans.