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Five Questions With Joe Gebbia, District 4 City Council Candidate

The candidate says he is running as a representative of the people.


1. In this day and age of intense scrutiny, and especially considering the recent, hotly contested debate, and over Brookhaven municipalization, why are you running for City Council?

Gebbia: In making the July 31st decision on whether to vote for or against the creation of our new city, I believe a lot of people were not only confused but also truly disappointed in the quality of the information and the revelation of tactics employed by certain groups to get the vote.

I know I was. I complained to my wife (again) about how even local government operates on a misguided agenda forgetting the real purpose
of their being – to do what is in the best interest of the citizenry - and not working just to protect a personal interest or power base. Call it Utopian but I sincerely believe we deserve better.

Then the vote passed. And with it came a realization that it was time for me to
stop the complaining, stop the finger pointing and get involved to help make sure this new city lived up to the many promises made during the campaign.

So I am running as a “representative of the people”, to ensure the promises made are honored and to do my part in having this new government be a true servant to its many residents. I have never held an elected position before, I am not tied to any particular group, and I have no power base to protect or enhance - just the interests of the citizens in the new City of Brookhaven.

This is why I am running for Brookhaven City Council – District #4.

2. What do you think separates your candidacy from the other contenders?

Gebbia: My corporate background of working with several Fortune 500 companies such as SOHIO, Procter & Gamble, and Mobil, and my entrepreneurial experience of creating and operating GA - Atlanta based businesses for the past 20 years, gives me a unique opportunity to provide a thorough, creative and well-structured approach to the decision making process.

This will be very important because the initial decisions made by the City Council will have a long lasting impact on the character and fabric of our new city. In addition to addressing the immediate responsibility of initiating core services (especially the Police Force), I will work to make sure the initial
decisions of the City Council focus on:

  • Ensuring the City is always financially sound – maintaining an excellent Bond Rating;
  • Ensuring zoning decisions protect long term real estate values;
  • Creating an environment that attracts new businesses - creating a larger corporate tax base (a benefit when negotiating with Dekalb County on other issues)
  • Helping to ensure residential and business tax rates remain low
  • And helping to create more job opportunities for the residents of our new city.

I have the talent, the creativeness and I have a plan – but like any other good plan, it’s not set in cement. I commit to remaining open to comments and suggestions from my constituents, to hear what you have to say and what you need and then be as responsive as possible.

3. With a newly incorporated municipality, is one responsibility (i.e., police,
zoning, etc.) more pressing than some of the others?

Gebbia: Immediately after the election, the soon-to-be City Council members should meet and begin formulating an action plan to address the recommendations due on Nov. 6th from the Governor’s Commission.

This will include the basic start-up decisions as: where the City Hall will be located; review those being recommended to fill key staff positions as City Manager and Clerk; and, the initial plan for services to be delivered. Getting a jump start on this prior to the incorporation of the City of Brookhaven at 12:01 AM on December 17, 2012 would definitely help in the transition.

To ensure full transparency, any meeting held prior to the actual incorporation of the City would need to be done in cooperation with the Governor’s Commission to ensure full compliance for public notification.

With that now said, the newly elected City Council will have to prioritize how they will address providing the city’s basic services:

  1. Police
  2. Parks & Recreation
  3. Code Enforcements
  4. Roads, Sidewalks & Drainage
  5. Planning, Zoning & Land Use.

Of these five, it is my opinion that addressing the creation of a Brookhaven Police Department should begin immediately. The issue of safety is paramount for every resident, and although the professionals at the Dekalb County Police Department will continue providing the necessary security needs for our City during the interim, our goal should be to establish the very best police force in as reasonable a time period as possible. And this will take time to do correctly.

There were many statements made during the campaign to secure the YES vote, and pivitol to me was the benefit of securing enhanced police presence.

Currently the Dakalb Police Department assigns approximately 3 to 5 police patrols in the area representing Brookhaven City. The creation of our own Brookhaven Police Department has the potential to increase this to 8 to 9 – a dramtic increase. And with the budget for the Dekalb Police Department now posting as a line item expense, we are in a good position to negotiate with Dekalb County for the funds we deserve.

With the right team of Police Officers, under the right leadership of a Chief of Police, the realization of this objective would have a huge positive impact on our City. I am committed to making this happen.

4. Moving forward, what do you envision Brookhaven’s relationship with
Dekalb County to be?

Gebbia: The creation of a new incorporated city is not a new event for the governing team at Dekalb County. The vote was taken, the decision was made, and now it will be incumbent upon both parties to ensure the relationship remains professional, constructive and focused on areas of mutual interest. The fact is that Dekalb County will still be receiving the bulk of the taxes paid by residents of the City of Brookhaven as they continue providing many of the services we will need: Schools, Fire and EMS, Sanitation, the Jail, most Courts (except Municipal Court), and interim Police.

Whenever possible, our approach should center on a “WIN – WIN” strategy – and key to this strategy will be the maintenance and expansion of a viable tax base. Once again, I believe this can best be achieved by maintaining focus on 4 core objectives: work to create a Brookhaven that is safe, make zoning decisions that protect long term real estate values, keep individual and business taxes low, and provide a governmental atmosphere that attracts and supports new business development. In the end both parties WIN.

When elected, my goal will be help create this overall approach and thus develop an ongoing relationship with Dekalb County centered on mutual respect and mutual benefits.

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?

Gebbia: YES! I promise to spend your money as if it was mine – and I hate to waste a nickel!

I am experienced at the bid process, I am experienced at negotiating deals, and I am committed to making sure this new City of Brookhaven fulfills its promise of operating within its financial means – ensuring our taxes stay low.

I am also willing to make the promise that as your Brookhaven City Councilman for the 4th District, I will always conduct myself in an ethical, honest and transparent manner. My ultimate goal will be to proudly represent your interests at Council and help create the very best next new city in Georgia.

I would like to close by acknowledging the PATCH Team for creating this open
forum for all candidates to state their platforms, opinions and goals as we enter this very exciting time period. This is a valuable public service.

Enuff Govt Already September 17, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Stick with 2 ,3 and 5 of your list and the city will be a success. The statement that currently the DeKalb Police assign 3 to 5 patrols in Brookhaven is not what I've found. The precinct commander publicly stated over a year ago he puts at least 6 in Brookhaven per his 3 shifts and additional officers per his robbery unit. Thats at least 18 in a 24 hour period. The 8 or 9 that Brookhaven Yes has been touting would consist of 2 shifts and it only equals the basic service provided by the precinct. What if we need specialized detectives like SVU, what if we want motorcycle cops to work our school zones? The plan presented dumps all of the police services (basic and enhanced) provided by the county in favor of a wing and a prayer approach. If the plan for police presented by Brookhaven Yes was so great then why is Dunwoody (the model) asking for more officers and money; Chamblee with a current population of 16K and only a sliver of Buf Hwy currently has more officers than the 8 or 9 plan offered from Brookhaven Yes. Is anything about Brookhaven going to be innovative or is this just more gov't?
Ben Podgor September 17, 2012 at 02:53 PM
The City of Brookhaven is paying for about 52 police. Even if it doubles the police it is presently using it will be spending less than that. Dunwoody has 48 police and it appears that they may need more. They are 13 sq miles. The exact mileage of Brookhaven has been in question (somewhere between 8 and 12, a big difference). We should have no problem in setting up a good police coverage. Ben Podgor
Grieg Ericsson September 18, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Joe, Who cares. Yours and all of the questions and answers don't mean crap. The uninformed Georgia voter does not care about the facts. They buy in to grandiose ideals that on the surface sound good but when anyone does the research and finds the truth, no one wants to hear it. Ala Brookhaven.
Booyah September 18, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Is it possible that you're one of only a few who like to define their own 'truth'. You do the research and convince yourself that your answer is the 'truth'. Maybe most Georgia voters are more informed than you, and they've discovered the real 'truth'.
Grieg Ericsson September 18, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Resident of the "A" (pew), Is it a lie that you voted to raise your taxes a minimum of 1.66 mills? Is it a lie that it will cost you and all of the cities in Dekalb county more than unincorporated Dekalb? Is it a lie that Brookhaven will be able to deliver on all of the promises that were in the CVI study? Is it a lie that 75% of the precincts, even the area always known as Brookhaven voted no? Is it a lie that the CVI only accounted for 49,188 citizens (based on the 2010 Census) which is the number they use to determine minimum number os police needed? Is it a lie that in addition to the 49,188 citizens in the CVI study that there are actually 50K + more citizens that are undocumented that will require city services? Is it a lie that JMax Davis is actually Hamburger? Is it a lie that you are actually Mike Jacobs?
Jack of Kings September 19, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Yes--they are your "truths', Grieg. In your land of Oz, they are your "realities". And the more you repeat them, the more true they are. Your credibility declines the more you post. Keep working at it, you are doing great..
Booyah September 19, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Truths are fact based, and what we know is that DeKalb County manipulated the tax rate for unincorporated areas just before the referendum. What we don't no is whether the County will manipulate those rates again, and what we don't know is the tax rate the City will use. We also know the County and the opponents of the City stated unequivocally that if we voted to incorporate, taxes for unincorporated areas would have to rise to offset the shortfall. So it follows that there is a reasonable likelihood that unincorporated tax rates will once again be manipulated by your beloved County. I realize you will have a difficult time seeing your mistake through the fog of your rage.
Booyah September 19, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Let's try another one of your fictitious statements. You can't 'know' that the City won't deliver on the promises in the CVI study. Only time can prove this to be fact, or not. So, once more try and clear the fog of rage to understand that your truths are nothing more than a delusional desire to see the city fail so you can feel vindicated in your failure to stop our progress. Sad, sad person.
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Remember, you are in the county still. Do you seriously think they will NOT do whatever they have to do to make budget? Silly ole fella. Maybe living in that A has caused some chafing. PS...I am certain Mike and J Max can make up a fresh batch of cool aid for you and Phillis
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Phil the Rill Dill, Please refrain. Ignorance is bliss.
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 02:19 AM
What will you little boys say when the city of brookhaven doesnt deliver? What excuse will you make up then? Who will you blame then? Please let it be me. Campaign starts October 1st. Please don't vote for me.
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 02:25 AM
75% of the precincts voted against the city. True or False?
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Phil the Rill Dill, Speaking of Oz.... http://tinyurl.com/8zgjgtr
Jack of Kings September 19, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Griege--your ridiculous Other Brookhaven blogspot is starving for hits, but do not despair. Keep on putting up the links so we all can enjoy your writing prowess over there. The precinct voting percentage is such a red herring, I am ashamed I even mentioned it. Grieg, Grieg, how sad ye have become. Oh, Grieg.
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Phil-doh, Please refrain. I wish the other brookhaven was mine. I would put your picture on it with you wearing those tight white shorts of yours.
Brookhaven Maven September 19, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Mr. Gebbia -- 1) Most candidates who have responded to the Patch "Five Questions" have listed police at or near the top of their priorities. Has the DeKalb Police Department been really bad in District 4? When I read the crime stats, it seems like they have done an excellent job of keeping violent crime down, no doubt due to having sufficient force to deal with it. District 4 has a lot of petty crimes (battery, break-ins, theft). What do you expect a Brookhaven PD to be able to do to lower this type of crime rate that the DKPD has been unable to do? 2) District 4 has no parks. Do you have any vision for parks or greenspace in your area? 3) And, finally, it has always bothered me to see that funny little prong of District 4 sticking up into District 3 on the city map. Do you know why the dividing line wasn't drawn across North Cliff Valley --- or, perhaps, across Briarwood / Pine Grove? Is there something in that prong that the cartographers were told to keep out of District 3? Thank you. -- The Maven
Grieg Ericsson September 19, 2012 at 03:06 AM
PS. From now on you shall be named J Max Muffin.
Booyah September 19, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Once again your 'truths' are not fact based. Please check the records. There are 12 voting precincts, and the vote was split, with 6 precincts voting YEA and 6 voting NAY.
HamBurger September 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Mr. BM, regarding your question about the “little prong of district #4” and the “cartographers”, here is what actually happened: In a smoke filled back room at Pub 71 with pints being shared among a group of men with visors and cigars there was a large map of the proposed new city on a large dining table. In the heat of discussing how to divide the lower three districts from gaining control over district #1, J. Max dropped a chicken tender on the map. Rep. Mike Jacobs loudly asked J. Max to remove the chicken tender so they could continue their discussion as how to restrict the power of the lower three districts. J. Max, never enamored with Rep. Mike Jacobs and wanting more control in the destiny of their new city, refused. After much discussion about removal of the tender, Rep. Mike Jacobs yelled “Screw it” and simply drew the line for district #4 around it. That portion of district #4 is now affectionately referred to as “chicken tender point” by Brookhaven Yes. It is amazing how silly stupid hardheaded incidents created by supposedly intelligent men have long lasting consequential effects on a geographical area ant its population. Please pass the yellow mustard!
HamBurger September 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM
I think the voters of Georgia are fairly smart. It is all them folks not originally from around here creating the problems. Check out this video by the CVI regarding government consolidation. http://www.cviog.uga.edu/video/consolidation Special hamburger?
Ben Podgor September 19, 2012 at 09:53 PM
HamBurger: I must complement you on both your imagination and choice of words. You know that I now consider myself a Publisher and would be interested to see you submit an entire manuscript for publication. Ben Podgor
HamBurger September 19, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Mr. Ben, you humble and flatter me with your kind words. However, your considerate complement detracts and may damage Mr. HamBurger’s reputation! I must add as one that has closely followed Rep. Mike Jacobs and his route to cityhood for our area, there is a wealth of information to play with for an eBook. Plus, knowing all the players allows me to creatively inject their personality quirks in the story so there is never a dull moment and further establish my reputation with those that love to hate on me. Regardless, there is always a special hamburger and a Cheerwine for you!

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