Mayoral Candidate Issues Open Letter To Other Contenders

This letter comes from Thom Shepard, who is running for mayor of Brookhaven.


Editor's Note: The following letter was received by Patch late Friday afternoon from Thom Shepard, who is running for Brookhaven mayor. It is an open letter to other city candidates:

Wednesday night, August 15th, I was sitting in the audience of Plywood Presents at the old Buckhead Theatre listening to Doug Shipman, Executive Director of The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and sitting next to Ryan Gravel, who conceived of the Beltline concept in his Georgia Tech Master’s Thesis.

At that moment the final qualification notices were hitting the press wires. It was great to be starting my candidacy listening to stories of historic human rights leaders and then at the next break hearing from Mr. Gravel who has been involved with the Beltline effort from a variety of different perspectives.

He created the concept, has been both inside and outside the official process, worked directly for the organization in charge and now is working for Perkins + Will. I think this gives him a unique insight into public private partnerships and public involvement in the process that will be very valuable for all of the candidates to learn from.

With 26 candidates putting their names in the hat I realized what a fantastic opportunity this is for us to prove the pundits wrong. Conventional wisdom is saying that it is bad thing that there are so many candidates running and that it will interfere with the start-up of our city.

Conventional wisdom says that runoffs are a bad thing. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that when this many people choose to take on the huge commitment of putting themselves in the public arena to run for public service it shows that in Brookhaven there are no chosen few, that in Brookhaven backroom deals are going to be very difficult to pull off, that in Brookhaven there is a lot of passion to do things differently.

I also know that 26 candidates running does not mean just 26 people committing to an election process. I know that like me, each of those 26 candidates has a substantial network of people standing ready to take part in the process and to add their thoughts, ideas, energy, money and time to their respective candidates’ effort.

This is thus a huge number of people making a major commitment to the formation of the new city.

All of which is in addition to the hard work that has come before by so many, including both those who were pro and con and expressing their most fundamental rights to free speech. 

I respect all those who opposed the city in an honest and legal way and who had the courage to speak up in the public form.  I can say you start in a very difficult position to try to win my vote or support, but I still respect your courage to stand up for what you believe especially when it might be a view a lot of your friends and neighbors may or may not agree with.

The discussion of the runoff does emphasize one very important point though. This election is not like most. We can’t just resort to typical politics and sort it all out later. We must start working together, all 26 of us, to make sure that no matter which candidates win on Nov. 6 or Dec. 4, we all have as much knowledge, experience and understanding of the critical issues as is possible. 

The winning candidates will face tough decisions that will have to be made rapidly so we must focus on the details most critical to the start-up period while still taking time to politic on more general and long range platforms.

I am thus going to ask all of my fellow candidates to join me in a pledge to innovate with our campaigns and do things differently and get outside the typical political box.

I will take the first step. I am going to share with all of you some of my ideas for my campaign, before I implement them, so you have the opportunity to join me, even beat me to the punch.

1. NO typical campaign signs plastered all over and absolutely no campaign signs on public property including all the grassy areas around intersections. Honestly I have always hated them and think they look trashy and detract from the character of a community.

All of my signs will be made with recyclable materials so they don’t become landfill fodder at the end of the campaign. This creates a substantial challenge as they will thus not be water resistant. But this goes hand in hand my desire to not have front yards filled with my name or campaign slogan.

2. I propose we instead focus on block parties, tents, barbeque grills and tables where we can sit and work on the issues we need to be deliberating on. We should make sure there is a lot of technical information available for those citizens who want to dig deep into the issues and challenges we face. When my team organizes a block party for my campaign I will invite all 26 candidates to participate with me, including all of the other three candidates running for mayor.

Obviously many candidates may want to focus on their districts, but when time allows I am sure all candidates will be just as interested in getting to know citizens of other communities in Brookhaven.

If we begin to do things in this way voters can easily find us, and enjoy a bit of dinner at a very reasonable cost, while they learn about issues they want to know more about or be directly involved in. By inviting all candidates and keeping the gatherings non-partisan, we will open the door for a lot of local business to participate in the block parties or to host them at their venue without concern that they might be seen as in favor one particular candidate, while their customers might have different opinions.

I hope other candidates will join me in this effort to make the campaigns for public service in the new City of Brookhaven dramatically different than “politics as usual”. Politics that I believe most citizens are completely sick and tired of, as I am.

Hopefully all of us can innovate and come up with new ideas for our respective campaigns that will as well get all of us in the frame of mind to innovate and find new ways to run the government of Brookhaven.

I personally am not content with Brookhaven being a little better than unincorporated DeKalb. I want Brookhaven to be exceptional. I want Brookhaven to set the bar for all future cities that follow the path of the first 7 new cities. I want Brookhaven to set this standard not just with quality of service, which should be above and beyond the expectations of citizens, but with frugality, efficiency, sensibility, and innovation in public private partnerships as well as figuring out what we can do as a community outside the government to reduce dependence on the taxpayer.

We are incredibly lucky in that we have the benefit of looking at the 6 cities that came before us, and as the leaders of the other cities have already demonstrated, they will work closely with us to make sure we have the benefit of their wisdom and experience.

I look forward to meeting all of you and working to make Brookhaven the absolute best possible city that we can, together, as a team. Being a part of forming a new democratically elected government in a country based on liberty and freedom for all individuals, even if only as a candidate or citizen, is truly an amazing honor that many around the world can only dream of. We thus have a responsibility to them, and to the every citizen of Brookhaven, to stand above the fray and set the standard of what American politics can and should be.

Please call me Thom.

Thom for Mayor, Brookhaven, GA

Dr. Jeff August 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Thom: You've demonstrated considerable leadership by taking the first step to build a collaborative approach to our new city's vision & operations. It's refreshing to hear from an authentic candidate who wants the best for Brookhaven and its citizens. Naysayers may claim that a collaborative approach to establish the vision, governance, & city operations borders on utopia, naïveté, & <fill-in-the-blank>. However, a unified & collaborative effort with healthy debate, sound rationale thinking & decision-making is certainly a more preferred pathway to success than a dysfunctional, contentious implosion. I look forward to learning more about you & your fellow candidates' vision & positions in the weeks to come. Brookhaven, The Beacon City
Rick August 18, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Great letter. So far you're at the top of my list.
Roger SanDomingo August 18, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Well done, Beacon City! "Walkin'' Lawton Chiles ran a unique campaign strategy, and was one of Florida's most beloved, senior lawmaker. Georgia's own Cong. Austin Scott walked throughout Georgia, as weel, and won his seat. Finally, Dunwoody Councilman John Heneghan does not use yard signs, and won his seat on City Council. I would suggest that all candidates refrain from employing political consultants that drive negative campaigns. Elections in Dunwoody have shown so many people are turned off by the unseemly parade of attack ads, negative phone calls. Go forth and be brilliant, Brookhaven!
don Gabacho August 18, 2012 at 04:29 PM
From conception (C4DK) to the present, compelling grounds persist to make the nullification of this cityhood of Brookhaven imperative. Such does not preclude another, but proper, effort in the future.
Jack of Kings August 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
don one. "From conception (C4DK) to the present, compelling grounds persist to make the nullification of this cityhood of Brookhaven imperative." What has happened since July 31 that has persisted? I sure hope you are not an oncologist. Mortician, yes. Oncologist, no.
TomMiller August 18, 2012 at 08:52 PM
You have a better chance of flying on a pogo stick than you do of "nullifying" anything. Take the loss like a big boy
TomMiller August 18, 2012 at 08:54 PM
In a small town like this new one, I for one want every candidate to take the pledge not only of making sure none of his/her signs are on public property, but also pledging that any person may remove the signage from areas that are public. I'm good with your suggestion that events be held with multiple candidates. Once that is set up, the ideas for our city can be hammered, supported, pooh poohed or added to by working people.
don Gabacho August 18, 2012 at 10:36 PM
"In a small town like this new one..."---TomMillar Then you admit that Brookhaven, if anything, should have been a township and not even the city it was surreptitiously made to be.
"E Pluribus Unum" August 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Any ideas how the other mayoral candidates will respond?
don Gabacho August 18, 2012 at 10:56 PM
"Take the loss like a big boy." "Loss"? Whether the cityhood won or loss, the form and procedures pursued to impose the referendum itself must be nullified. That doing so at this point would in effect nullify the cityhood, also, is incidental to the cause. "You have a better chance of flying on a pogo stick..." They said they couldn't "make the pig fly" too. While I'm not even proposing to make a pig, much less make a pig fly.
TomMiller August 19, 2012 at 01:49 PM
city or town, does not matter to me what you call it. I call Atlanta a town sometimes.
TomMiller August 19, 2012 at 01:52 PM
It was anything BUT surreptitious 1. done, acquired, etc, in secret or by improper means 2. operating by stealth 3. characterized by fraud or misrepresentation of the truth Donnie if you believe that and somewhere I read where you wanted other people to nullify the vote - do what ppl have done in upstate NY and other places - file a lawsuit challenging every step of the way the town came to be.
don Gabacho August 19, 2012 at 04:46 PM
As in, and just for starters, the following? "As an individual citizen, I look forward to working with my neighbors to build something great."?---Mike Jacobs http://repjacobs.com/ And: Citizens for North DeKalb, Inc. Rep. Mike Jacobs Harts Mill http://citizensfornorthdekalb.org/aboutus.htm
don Gabacho August 19, 2012 at 05:01 PM
"...city or town, does not matter to me what you call it..."---Tom Miller It should. But then you are not talking with the self-declared authority of a State Representative: Mike Jacobs 12:41 pm on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 "Citizens can and should state their opinions. Misstatements of objective facts are what I am here to correct." Mike Jacobs 5:33 pm on Monday, February 13, 2012 "I've supported township legislation in the past and know from experience that there is not 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate to support the constitutional amendment required to give zoning power to a third type of local government (other than counties and cities)." Yet again, where in the State Constitution of Georgia is this prohibition of "townships"? Much less requiring "constitutional amendment"? As declared by a lawyer and State Representative no less? http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/constitution.htm
Tom Reilly August 19, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Thank you, Thom. Thank you for being a voice for restoring intelligence, dignity, eloquence, and courage to American politics.--Tom Reilly
don Gabacho August 21, 2012 at 12:29 AM
"Thank you, Thom. Thank you for being a voice for restoring intelligence, dignity, eloquence, and courage to American politics."--Tom Reilly It's pretty but it didn't sound like running the merry pranksters out of the State.
Thom Shepard August 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Thank you for all of the comments. I look forward to meeting you during the campaign and learning more of your ideas and concerns. Thom Thom for Mayor, Brookhaven
don Gabacho August 22, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Pertinent post from today's "What would you like to see in Ashford Park" discussion: "don - You may want to be careful talking about taking up arms against any government in this day and age."----Corey Self ["Chairman" for C4DK] Believing I would have to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights is not "talking about taking up arms against any government..." Meanwhile you posted: "We [C4DK] obtained information from the county regarding what their annual spending/revenue was for the parks and provided that to CVI as a baseline." Why would the so-called "citizens group" C4DK provide any information to the Carl Vincent Institute? Moreover, why would the CVI accept the information from C4DK and not get any and all relevent information directly for themselves? The study was billed as "independent." Was it not? What, and how much, other information was supplied to the CVI by the so-called "citizens group" C4DK?
Thom Shepard August 22, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Dr. Jeff, Thank you for your comments and I do want to say that I really like your choice of words in "collaborative approach". I think this is very different from compromise or some of the utopian or anarchist ideas of pure democracy. While I do want to hear what everyone has to say, at the same time I am not particularly tolerant of those who want to disrupt the system just for the sake of disrupting. This is why I like your choice of the word collaborate which implies that even if there is an argument between two parties there can be a mutual understanding of both views and an effort to effect a positive outcome beneficial to the larger group, which in this case is the Citizens of Brookhaven. Mr. SanDomingo, Great references and I agree completely with your suggestion that candidates avoid political consultants that run negative campaigns and I give you my pledge that I will choose all of my consultants, both paid and volunteers, with great care on this issue and will not tolerate anyone involved with my run for mayor whose interest is to run a negative campaign. That said, I will not hesitate to challenge my opponents in a fair and honest format if I feel there are issues upon which we disagree. I am a big fan of British politics where they can discuss things rather dramatically, but face to face, with respect for each other and with proper decorum, and then shake hands as friends at the end of a passionate and animated argument.
Thom Shepard August 22, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Tom Miller, I agree with your comments although I am not sure of the law with respect to removing signs from public property and I would express caution against disrupting someone else’s campaign propaganda. I will say that if you see any sign belonging to me or my campaign, that is not legally authorized to be there, I am publicly stating that you have my permission to remove such sign so long as you agree to compost or recycle it. Thom
don Gabacho August 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Thank you for your comments and I do want to say that I really like your choice of words in..."----Thom Shepard Have you ever checked his word choice in the posts he makes? "I think this is very different from compromise or some of the utopian or anarchist ideas of pure democracy. While I do want to hear what everyone has to say, at the same time I am not particularly tolerant of those who want to disrupt the system just for the sake of disrupting..." So then the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution itself, protecting the right to redress of grievances, is "utopian or anarchistic" for being "disruptive of the system." What "system"? Whose "tolerance"? A "system" that, in this case, began with a so-called "citizens committee," C4DK to, as you have stated yourself, must be allowed to pre-empt even a govenor's non-elected, and yet announced, interim government from "adminstering" the new, and still prospective, governance called "City of Brookhaven"? "I urge all of you that are interested in getting involved to join one of the Citizen Task Forces which is currently being administered by Brookhaven-Yes. info@brookhavenyes.org. "---Thom Shepard Welcome to 'corporatist' governance.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something