Dear Decaturish – Clarkston deserves better than ‘no’FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: L to R, Council Member Susan Hood, Mayor Pro Tem Debra Johnson, Mayor Beverly Burks, Council Member Jamie Carroll, Council Member Awet Eyasu, Council Member Laura Hopkins, Council Member YT Bell. Photo by Sara Amis, contributor
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Decaturish invited candidates and their supporters to submit letters to the editor in advance of the Nov. 7 municipal election. This letter was submitted after our deadline.
Clarkston deserves better than the leadership of constantly saying “no” to the new and renewal in the city.
The Townes At Clarkston Centre mixed use development is under construction in the middle of town, but it exists only because the developer had land right usage on their side. It was not spearheaded by the city, and was even met with opposition by some of the current council members. The new Clarkston Marketplace development near downtown has succeeded in spite of city leadership and is a shining example of what could be possible in the city when “yes” is allowed to breathe.
The old warehouse in the center of town, our own personal citywide albatross, has sat moldering for over a decade thanks to visionless leadership. A mad rush was made to expel the previous tenant, but no actual plan existed of what to do with the property next. This isn’t new though. We’re good at making plans with no follow through in Clarkston. A few years ago we jumped to dissolve our downtown development authority with no proper plan to replace it until just recently. Years ago we even drew up a fancy new downtown “vision” complete with city hall and town green, then proceeded to do absolutely nothing to make the vision a reality.
Meanwhile, in neighboring cities like Avondale, Tucker and Stone Mountain their leaders have embraced change while also retaining what makes their cities special. But Clarkston seems immune to this kind of thinking. Our current leaders are paralyzed by the fear of change to the point of letting the perfect impede the good. They let fearmongering from a small group of citizens guide what has become a rudderless ship. We are at a crossroads in Clarkston with outside forces bearing down on us. Housing shortages, inflation, affordable housing, are all economic forces outside our municipal control. However, we can navigate these waters in ways that support our community and embrace inevitable change. When will we take the wheel? When will we act to guide our future instead of only reacting to crises? We already have hungry outside investors snapping up Clarkston properties. Will we work together and help guide an overall vision? Our current leadership hasn’t. They have had four or eight years to help lead and guide their city. Instead of leading us to a future where everyone in our community has a place, they bicker to the point of inaction.
This year, the citizens deserve better than a constant knee-jerk “no ” when new ideas are presented. The streetscapes project is nice window dressing, but when apartment complexes continue to decay and empty buildings rot, they show the true core of our city leadership. The current slate of incumbents have shown that their true election motto is “no” when it comes to the future of Clarkston. Our citizens deserve new ideas, and it seems that new leadership is the only way to gain that kind of perspective.
— Brian Medford
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