Five Questions With Rebecca Chase Williams, District 1 Candidate
Patch interviews the candidates for Brookhaven mayor and city council.
Editor's Note: Brookhaven's first elections as a city will take place on Nov. 6, 2012, with runoffs set for for Dec. 4, 2012. Brookhaven officially becomes a city on Dec. 17, at 12:01 am.
Patch has contacted every candidate for mayor and city council, asking them to participate in our popular 'Five Questions With ...' series. We will publish their answers, unedited, in the order their responses are received, from those who choose to participate.
And now, Five Questions With Rebecca Chase Williams, candidate for city council district 1.
1. In this day and age of intense scrutiny, and especially considering the recent, hotly contested debate and vote over Brookhaven municipalization, why are you running for city council?
Williams: As a journalist for 35 years, 20 years at ABC Network News, I am well aware that being a candidate for public office can open a person to scrutiny.
I believe I have earned a reputation for honesty, integrity, fairness and listening to all sides. I have also resigned from reporting from the Dunwoody Crier to avoid any conflict of interest.
I also consider the fact that I am a small business owner an asset. I ran a health club in Dunwoody for 20 years and my husband, Dick Williams and I have owned The Crier for 16 years.
As DeKalb residents for 27 years, we have raised our college-age daughters here and have deep roots in Brookhaven. I have been a leader in my neighborhood and community for most of those years and believe I bring a better knowledge and understanding of the issues facing the new city than any of my opponents. We only get one chance to launch a city, and I want to make sure we get it right.
2. What do you think separates your candidacy from the other contenders?
Williams: Not only have I had a front row seat, reporting on the creation of Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Brookhaven, but I have also been in the trenches working on behalf of my community for two decades.
I was president of the Byrnwyck Community Association for more than a decade, co-chaired the Zoning committee of the Ashford Alliance for three years, served two terms on the Board of Trustees at St. Martin's Episcopal School, chaired numerous committees at Marist School and St. Pius X High School, and been an active volunteer at my church, All Saints Catholic Church, as well as my daughter's sports teams, Girl Scouts and local charities.
I served on the board of Citizens for North DeKalb, the group that commissioned the feasibility study for the new city. For the last two years, I have served on the DeKalb Zoning Appeals Board as an advocate for the district.
As a community leader, I have worked to protect our property values, opposing development or road widening that threatened our single-family neighborhoods.
As a business owner, I understand finances and understand the importance of a strong commercial base that creates jobs and enhances our city. I don't have all the answers, but I know how to get them. No one has worked as long and hard as I have to understand our issues and make a positive impact.
3. With a newly incorporated municipality, is one responsibility (i.e., police, zoning, etc.) more pressing than some of the others?
Williams: There are many important decisions the city leaders will have to get right from the start, from passing ordinances, to hiring a city manager and city attorney. While hiring a police chief and starting our own police chief is at the top of the priority list, the council will be reviewing bids immediately to determine which performance-based partnerships will deliver the various city services. These are important decisions that require careful analysis, scrutiny and transparency.
I am dedicated to a first-rate, responsive police force, excellent parks and recreation centers, well-maintained roads and sidewalks and zoning that protects our quality of life. None of this will happen overnight, but this first year will lay the foundation for creating our new city and I'm determined to make Brookhaven the most successful new city yet.
4. Moving forward, what do you envision Brookhaven's relationship with DeKalb County to be?
Williams: I expect Brookhaven's relationship with DeKalb county to be similar to cities like Decatur, Stone Mountain, Chamblee, or Dunwoody. We are still DeKalb residents and will continue to support the county with nearly 90 percent of our taxes. In return we will continue to receive important services like fire, water, sanitation and libraries from the county.
And of course, we are still part of the DeKalb school system. As we continue to invest in and improve Brookhaven, keeping property values strong and being a magnet for business, DeKalb wins as well.
As DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer's representative on the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals, I have a strong relationship with her. I know our other commissioners well as well as the members of the DeKalb board of education and look forward to working with them for the benefit of our city and county.
5. Candidates make promises when running for public office all the time. Can you make just one promise that, with absolute certainty, you will keep?
Williams: I will work to keep taxes low and be a good steward of the taxpayers' money, always operating in an open and transparent way.