Updated By: Ben. T. Austin and Pat Fox Staff reporters
Photographers: David Deng, Ben Austin and Tony Delmichi.
In few hours votes will be counted..
Many voters are looking for cahnge.
Signs are populating area neighborhoods in Dunwoody.
Soon all will be gone unless there is a run-off.
Only one woman is running for office.
Only two contested seats in Dunwoody.
Three are after Mike Davis's seat.
Springer - the under dog - is taking on Terry Nall.
Headlining the lawn marquees is the race for mayor, where three candidates are challenging incumbent Mayor Mike Davis who is seeking a second term.
The biggest challenge comes from City Councilman Denis Shortal, a retired Marine brigadier general, who gave up his seat on the Council to challenge Davis.
Denis Shortal is calling for open positive leadership, control over schools, more street paving and more parks, all while maintaining a strong balance sheet. He has been on the City Council since the city was formed in 2008.
If you read “sign language,” it is apparent from the seasonal yard displays that Shortal and Davis both have the local political background to mount strong campaigns. The other two candidates in the race are depending mostly on word of mouth to get their messages out.
Steve Chipka, a former manager with BellSouth, used the opportunity of an Oct. 11 debate sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association to pass out flyers and greet the close to 300 in attendance. Chipka is campaigning on a platform of greater government transparency and better tracking of local projects. He also said government officials need to be more available to the public. Many of Chipka's signs started to appear at front yards and street corners.
Chris Gravakis, a banker and financial adviser, is campaigning against high-density development in the Perimeter area. He is calling for more street paving and sidewalks. Gravakis has also called for an end to cost overruns on local projects as one of his key initiatives if elected mayor. Another area of concern, he said, is the expanding budget in the Police Department, which has been gaining more supervisors and putting fewer officers on the streets.
▲ CATS IN DEBATE.. A PERFORMANCE in DUNWOODY.. One issue brought up at the Oct. 11 debate was the deal made by the city to sell property to John Wieland Homes in the Georgetown area. Under terms of the arrangement, the city is providing infrastructure and amenities to the community at taxpayers’ expense
While some of the candidates have been attending “meet and greet” gatherings around town, some of the more organized campaigns have hosted “meet, greet and give” gatherings.
Mayor Mike Davis has faced his share of criticism over his four years in office.
One issue brought up at the Oct. 11 debate was the deal made by the city to sell property to John Wieland Homes in the Georgetown area. Under terms of the arrangement, the city is providing infrastructure and amenities to the community at taxpayers’ expense.
Davis also came under fire from a coalition of citizens’ groups who opposed the City Council’s decision to expand and alter a trail through Brook Run Park, which had original been approved as a narrow nature trail composed of wood and chipped bark. The new trail is wider than the original plan and is composed of concrete.
A drive from a citizens’ group called “Save Dunwoody” mounted a campaign two years ago to wrest control of the City Council from Davis’ sway. That campaign fell short when only one - Jim Riticher - of the three “Clean Sweep” candidates was elected.
▲ Watching only two contested races, Most of the talk is about high taxes, waste, fixing the roads and more city fees. The schools are just a dream. It is all about money. "Our taxes went up under Nancy Jester's watch and voted for by Mike Davis and Terry Nall. Terry Nall wants less boots on teh ground" said a former elected official to this reporter.
No less contentious this year is the race for City Council District 1, currently held by Terry Nall.
Nall, who is running for a second term, has been closely aligned with Davis on the Council, and he has initiated moves to assume fire safety duties from DeKalb County.
His challenger, Becky Springer, is a housewife and community leader who made headlines in recent years with her fight to battle a debilitating blood disorder. The disease took both legs and hands, yet the mother of three continues to circulate in the community with the use of prosthetics. She drives her SUV throughout neighborhoods passing out campaign literature with her children and her staff.
Springer was called to task during the debate for questioning Nall’s ethics in his support of the John Wieland Homes deal. But Springer was unapologetic, saying that the deal ignored taxpayers’ interests by providing the developer with parks, sidewalks and sewer at no cost.
Nall countered that Springer had been slinging allegations of criminal activity. He invited anyone with any evidence of illegal activity to come forward with charges.
The project is still under constructions. Additional infrastructures, parks and playgrounds were added to the site at the expense of the tax payers.
The development - known as City of Dunwoody & John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods for Georgetown Park - was criticized and described as a "sweet heart deal" by several candidates in races during the past years. County and state investigative authorities discussed the possibilities of criminal wrong doings.
▲ The failure to bring up the high taxes and fees were among those issues on the minds of many as the protested what they called a " Fixed Debate" . Out of the box, came the first question. The writer - Dick Williams - drafted it from his sick-bed, at home in Brookhaven. He was unable to attend. It was addressed to Becky Springer.
▲ The second part of the Debate, included four candidates for the office of Mayor. The four candidates sat side by side.
Reporter Notes. Conversations with voters.
Only two contested races. Most of the talk is about high taxes and more fees. The schools are just a dream. It is all about money. "Our taxes went up under Nancy Jester's watch. We can also blameMike davis and Terry Nall" said a former elected official to this reporter.
There are those who wanted write-ins! Seeing more signs of Becky Springer in remote locations.
It was an easy win or no race at all for most and hard fight for only two, Becky Springer and Denny Shortal.
As election days gets closer, the more you will see of the six candidates. It is all about meet and greet and donate.
Forty guests and candidates were invited to an after office hours Hob Nob on the first Monday of October.
The event was hosted by Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce at "Wild Wing Cafe"
The two hour social event featured all candidates except one, Terry Nall.
Dunwoody City Councilman Terry Nall was in court across town in Decatur for five hours, being grilled by Attorney Steven Curlee and Judge Richard Foxworth under oath.
He was ordered to appear.
Terry Nall had to explain his statments to the Dunwoody Police Department and recall under oath his witnessing to the July 30th beating up of a member of the press at a meeting at the former headquarters of DeKalb Republican Party.
He was one among several witnesses who used the the words "I don't recall" 192 times during the court session.
Meanwhile, at the Wild Wing Cafe, candidates were invited to speak for two minutes each before the members of the chamber.
Among those were Steve Chipka, running for Mayor, making his first public appearance, Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis, seeking a second term in office, Davis's challenger Chris Grivakis, also appearing in public for the first time, and former Dunwoody City councilman Denis Shortal.
Surveying the number of signs of Shortal, Springer and Davis, the seem to be running even around the city.
Local residents watched Springer being interviewed by TV-11. She spoke abour her life and her plans.
The race for Mayor is one of two contested races out of five. The voters of the new City of Dunwoody in November will be selecting one out of four
A run-off is expected by many.
The second race, competing for a - post four at large - are Becky Springer and Terry Nall.
In the absence of any write-in candidates, Pam Tallmadge, Lynn Deutsch and John Heneghan were invited to speak and give information about themselves.
The two hour encounter was a friendly one. The event was closed to the public.
Lynn Deutsch, John Heneghan, Pam Tallmadge are not expected to debate, meet and greet and ask voters to donate, or place signs in front yards any time soon.
Many voters expressed anger. "Is this election fixed?" said a former county official to Georgia Weekly Post.
He told this reporter of his plans to run for office as a write-in Candidate. He is out looking for staff.
Write in Candidate is not new. Voters might choose another candidate for office.
MIMI ODDO is running as a write-in candidate for POST 1, City Council, City of Fayetteville. "She will make Fayetteville history if the voters grant her the privilege of winning this election. And and if she makes history, the City of Fayetteville will make history, too," she told Georgia weekly Post. In Dunwoody, you may ask, how do I cast a write-in vote? The answer is easy. In Fayetteville, Johns Creek, Brookhaven or Dunwoody, your ballot will be electronic. Simply check the "write-in" box and a keyboard will pop up. Type the name of your choice and click done. And that's all there is to it. If you have a question while voting, simply ask one of the polling officers for assistance.
Some voters write their own names as a sign of protest.
Heneghan and Deutsch will serve another full term of four years. Tallmadge will serve the balance of Shortal's term.
They - three of them - faced no challenges. Georgia Weekly Posted noted only two new challenges were added on to the Mayor's office.
The Mayor - Mike Davis - is challenged by three including Denny Shortal during the summer.
"Dunwoody needs a brake. Shortal plans to serve one term and expects to see the first woman for Mayor in Dunwoody following him," said a close friend to this reporter during an event of "Meet and Greet" for Terry Nall.
Councilman at Large - Terry Nall - is challenged by Becky Springer.
Surveying the political scene, one should follow the signs placed by candidates, husbands or wives and supporters at front yards of many homes and businesses around the city of Dunwoody. Some are found in public places!
In sign language, one also should consider those locations, how many, how big, where placed, how placed, including those many bright signs planted on public lands.
This reporter has been following the steps of all the candidates as they take their campaigns, closer to election day, meet the voters and answer questions, one on one, at their front doors, events called "meet and greet and give", in restaurants or - not too many - organized debates.
Dunwoody is in the middle of an election, again.
If you are not sure, this is the third race for Mayor in the history of the new and young City of Dunwoody.
Our report adresses the signs and not the money. Money will follow.
GWP met and spoke to a voter, having lunch at 47th street. "Let us talk about [Dunwoody's] or Funwoody - as some call us - election 101 as written by Dunwoody.
You want to get re-elected? Simple and easy. If you want to get into an office and your ratings are very bad among voters, "Tricks are there. It costs money. If you go after some one in office, they will get the money and keep spending after they clean you out of money in the first round and wait for much less voters to show up to vote for the second or even the third time!" "It is a dirty game!" Georgia Weekly Post was told by an expert on past elections in Dunwoody.
One of those games is forcing a runoff among candidates, four for the office of Mayor. expecting lower turnouts and much lower.
"It was done many times. It does not work. Voters are smarter. It is a waste of time. It costs the city and the county more money as you go into overtime and extra rounds," said a mother living at an apartment building on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.
This is how its done: unknowns are encouraged, some are helped, supported to filing and paying the qualification fees of few a hundred dollars, last minute.
Georgia Weekly Post is aware of these cases.
Municipal elections, considering a historic low turn out in 2015, are not very popular among voters and extending it's duration creates a voting fatigue resulting to a much lower turn out. Several races were won by few votes.
This will help those candidate - of low approval rating - win the seat of an elected office such as a Mayor or a council member. Mike Davis is a product of a run-off race. It did not work for his former campaign manager. He lost the election, but it is still done.
This year, last minute additions to the race, are including two new names, Chris Grivakis and Steve Chipka.
Both Chipka and Grivakis are unknown among voters. Both are running for Mayor of Dunwoody.
Chris Grivakis lived for years and was educated in Florida before moving to Georgia. He has listed his name, recently with a social network, having four connections.
Georgia Weekly Post spoke to a former elected official. "His participation in the election is a surprise to many, like me. I do not understand their motive other than to help both Mayor Mike Davis get re-elected. This is using the back doors of forcing a runoff with a lower turnout. Those two new guys should get serious and I am talking here about Grivakis and Chipka," he said.
"Steve Chipka, running for the office of a Mayor, is known for filing [an] [ethic] complaint against former Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, accusing Mrs. Bonser of not helping him with some issues he had with the Dunwoody Police Department. The complaint was dismissed. Everyone knew that Davis was after Bonser. [Former councilwoman] Bonser was abused by Mayor Davis and his friends, big time," he added.
Steve Chipka told georgia weekly Post " the complaint was never dismissed," he said.
▲ Becky Springer, driving an SUV packed with signs and fliers, her three daughters dressed in casuals. Springer along with many of her friends were seen ringing door bells, placing signs, passing fliers and answering questions by the voters.
"He, [Mike Davis] turned many people off. That includes me. She did not seek re-election. She was chased out. Her seat was filled by Jim Riticher," he said.
▲ Davis's pal and former campaign manager - seen in photo above - was defeated in a three way race at District Two. A new comer Jim Riticher was elected to the post as a City Councilman.
"Mrs. Bonser is [presently] being treated for cancer. We talk. She describes that kind of sudden appearances by some in a race as political dishonesty. She spends all her days in bed."
"She is very hurt and disappointed in Terry Nall and Mike Davis," said Jim, a long time resident of Dunwoody and a former political hand in Dunwoody and DeKalb County politics.
Following the signs, Georgia Weekly Post reporters and photographers did not observe any front yards signs of Steve Chipka, during a survey, anywhere in the City of Dunwoody.
▲ Terry Nall had his extra size sign placed at the entrance of the Oakhurst Walk sub-division.
Chris Grivakis is another last minute addition to the race for Mayor. He lived and was educated in the Boston area. Leaving a city buried in snow most of the winter years ago and making sunny Georgia his home, he describes himself as an account executive at Textron, a financial firm with real estate interests.
Very few signs could be seen at a corner around the Dunwoody High School area.
The City of Dunwoody had spent $45,000 commissioning a feasibility and engineering study of a proposed round-about. "The proposal was the brainchild of Mayor Mike Davis. That was a waste," said a former member of the City Council.
A group of opponents to the proposed plan, in the hundreds, calling themselves "Save Dunwoody" took on the Mayor and his former campaign manager who was campaigning for council seat, replacing retiring Bonser.
Davis's pal was defeated in a three way race, putting an end to the proposal. Jim Riticher is the new City Councilman.
Georgia Weekly Post counted nine signs belonging to Chris Grivakis for Mayor.
Among the known candidates are Mayor Mike Davis facing Denny Shortal for the ceremonial office of Mayor.
Davis is seeking re-election for a second term. Shortal gave up his seat on the City Council and is challenging Mike Davis. "He wanted to serve as a one term Mayor, keeping an eye on Sandy Springs, he wants to open the door for the next and the first woman Mayor of Dunwoody," said Steve, a friend of Shortal and a long time resident near the Dunwoody Country Club. "Make sure, you say I live on the Dunwoody side," he added.
Signs of both Denny Shortal and Mike Davis were seen at selected locations around the city. Signs of Denny Shortal and Becky Springer are seen together too. Most of Davis' signs were placed together with Terry Nall's. "Perhaps they - Davis and Nall - are sending a political message of the close political connection? They vote the same way most of the time," said an elder woman walking her dog, on a sunny Sunday morning to Georgia Weekly Post.
▲ "Mrs. Bonser is [presently] being treated for cancer. We talk. She describes that kind of sudden appearances by some in a race as political dishonesty. She spends all her days in bed." "She is very hurt and disappointed in Terry Nall and Mike Davis," said Jim, a long time resident of Dunwoody and a former political hand in Dunwoody and DeKalb County politics.
Terry Nall made it clear to many friends and a writer at a local Brookhaven tabloid, his intentions and plans to run for the post of Mayor, if his friend Mike Davis decided not to seek re-election.
Shortal plans to run for the Mayor's seat, considering the very low approvals of Davis, were not a surprise to many.
His intentions were known to Georgia Weekly Post for many weeks before he made it official.
Pam Tallmadge, a first timer, won the seat by default. There was no opposition. No front yards signs are expected. Tallmadge is known for producing the annual Fourth of July Parade. She is serving as a member of the leadership of Dunwoody's Homeowners Association. She is replacing Denny Shortal.
Nall and Davis had several and planned formore "meet and greet and donate", seeking donations at exclusive locations including high-end resturants and bars, by invitation only.
This time, with low ratings among voters, both Nall and Davis are not seen visiting homes, often or placing signs and fliers anywhere.
"Mike Davis got his friends to do it for him while on vacation," said a former staffer. Mike Davis' first "Meet and Greet and Donate" by invitation only took place at the very upper scale, called a lovers paradise, Cafe Intermezzo.
Terry Nall had his - by invitation only "meet and greet" - meeting with the voters at the upper scale Kingsley Racquet and Swim Club on September 29.
The turnout was very low. He promissed a vision for next four years, if elected to a second term. He listed Windy and Bev Wingate, Tony and Maria Barnhart, Dennis and Maria Crean, Bill and Louise McCahan, Bill and Barbara Robinson, Jan Slater, Bryan and Johanna Tate, and Stefan and Lisa Victory among his supporters.
They appeared at the event and donated. Becky Springer was no where at Kingsley Racquet Club.
Her name was mentioned around the room. Jokes were whispered about Becky Springer according to three invited supporters.
There were talks of term limits and write-in names in the room. The food was good.
There is no term limit placed on any of the elected members of the City Council of the City of Dunwoody.