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:
- Parks & Recreation
- Code Enforcements
- Roads, Sidewalks & Drainage
- 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.