LIVE Coverage: Smyrna Ward 7 Runoff Public Forum

Patch is at the King Valley at Vinings neighborhood to provide live coverage of Thursday night's public forum involving the two candidates involved in the Dec. 6 election runoff.

Ron Fennel and Garry Osborne are in the Smyrna Ward 7 election runoff that will take place on Dec. 6. Check back shortly before 7 p.m. for our live coverage of the event.

7:09 OK, we're running a little slow here at the forum. Folks are getting settled in. More coming ... 7:15 And the candidates are beginning to settle in here at the clubhouse. Seems some folks thought it was starting at 7:30. About to start now.
7:16 Ziad Salameh, a Ward 7 candidate in the general election, is moderating the event.  
7:18 Garry Osborne now introducing himself. Raised his kids here in Smyrna. "We did all the things you did. Booster clubs. Concession stands. PTSA....I think this is a fine place to raise a family. I want to keep it that way." 7:19 But he wants to make it better.
7:19 Ron Fennel: "I'm happy to get to meet and talk with you all.'' 7:20 Fennel: "We chose Smyrna because we like that it's a family friendly atmosphere." 7:20 Says he lives in the south part of the ward. "I think we have some different issues (in south Ward 7)." 7:21 Small retail businesses can thrive in Smyrna. "We do have office buildings along Highlands Parkway that are empty. We need to fill those." 7:22 "We have to make sure (people) know that Smyrna is a great place to do business." - RF  
7:23 Fennel says he wants to be a cheerleader for Smyrna. Now he's introducing his wife. The wives of both candidates are here tonight. 7:24 Fennel: "I'm a participant in every community I've lived in."  
7:24 Some folks here are going to ask questions of the candidates now.  
7:25 Schools and planning zone questions coming.  
7:25 Here comes the GLOCK issue.
7:26 She wants to know from the candidates their thoughts on Glock and planning. 7:27 Fennel is talking the pre-dated involvement of the neighborhoods about the area around Glock being zone light industrial. 7:28 Resident: "We don't have step-down requirements" ... "What's your plan to fix the problems that we currently have (with Glock)." 7:29 Osborne says he's walked the property. "It was maybe a mistake with regards with what we did 20 years ago." Says Glock is now doing everything by the book. 7:30 Questions the concrete trucks being brought down Camp Highland.  
7:30 Questioning the 11-foot buffer.  
7:31 "The gate thing. What does that mean?" .... "Our overall properties are impacted by it." - G.O. 7:32 Osborne wants to sit down with residents and Glock and see if the situation can be fixed. 7:32 Fennel says he doesn't have any privileged information on Glock.  
7:33 But wants to get on the inside and find out more info to learn about what can be done to fix situation.

Makes note that at last council meeting that he suggested having concrete trucks come through on a Saturday rather than on weekdays. 

7:35 Talking about Councilman Wade Lnenicka's suggestion to contractor at last council meeting to at least bring trucks through Glock's Highlands Parkway entrance to cut traffic in half.
7:36 Next resident is talking...about Glock, too.
7:37 As many residents near Glock are, he's not pleased with the elected officials of Smyrna.  
7:39 Fennel: It's light industrial zoning - "That's where the mistake was made." 7:40 "Organized with data and facts....we can fix past sins." - R.F. 7:42 Resident speaking about both candidates being involved. Asks will they have the time to be involved? 7:43 Osborne: "We have to address the problems we're having." 7:43 "Are we updating the codes?" I don't think we are." - Osborne  
7:44 "I was very happy to see (council) take a stance the other night (on not extending Glock working hours)." - Osborne 7:45 Fennel says that 20 years ago we didn't have active citizens (here in Smyrna, Ward 7) like we do now." 7:46 Says citizens must help set the agenda - Fennel. 7:47 Moving away from Glock for a moment... 7:48 "We have to work for what's going to be best, not just for our ward, but for the city....South Cobb Drive has been a pet project for me for years." - Osborne 7:49 Osborne wants to control the flow of traffic across S. Cobb Drive. Says to improve the area and draw better businesses. 7:50 Talking about 20 years ago fighting for the betterment of Smyrna. 7:50 He says he was fighting the fight 20 years ago. 7:51 "We have to market Smyrna as a destination (for business)." - Fennel 7:51 "We have a great place to live, work and play." - R.F. 7:52 "Smyrna aught to be the jewel of the metro region on bringing jobs." - R.F. 7:53 A third resident speaking now, talking about his area being annexed into the Smyrna after he moved in seven years ago.  
7:54 Biggest frustration (about Glock), no one was listening." Again, not happy with the city council and the Ward 7 councilmember.  
7:56 Talking about the 7-0 votes of council members. Referencing recent comments by Councilman Mike McNabb on why council votes 7-0. This resident is frustrated by feeling that council doesn't listen to citizens. Question: "How do the residents get their voices heard by the council?"  
7:57 Osborne lists several ways in which folks can reach him. "It's unbelievable that people would not respond to a constituent....I think I can help...I think I can bring people together." - G.O. 7:59 Fennel talking about his role as president of the Vinings Estates HOA.

8:00 Talking about the neighborhoods' communication efforts with the likes of Ott, Golick, Stoner, etc. "I think we need to revisit (Smyrna's) entire master plan." 8:01 "I've been a problem solver all my life....I believe I can help." - R.F.
8:02 He's stressing how good a communicator he is.  
8:04 "I believe one person can make a difference....A small band of people can make a difference in this land....(Smyrna) matters." - R.F.  
8:04 Term limits...
8:05 Fennel: Every election is a vote for term limits according to Fennel. He wouldn't pass term limits. Osborne says he's in favor of two terms. 8:06 Question now about elementary school redistricting... 8:07 Smyrna United Methodist preschool is where Fennel's kids are. He was at last redistricting meeting, but understands those decision are up to the Cobb School Board. 8:08 By the way, Vic Yankouski, who finihsed third in the Ward 7 voting on Nov. 8, is here, but has not commented or asked a question 8:11 Fennel talking about based on his past political experience, he knows how to get the job done. 8:12 Question from resident: What if mayor doesn't want to change zoning, planning? 8:13 Fennel says he'll communicate what the people want. "I'm going to work with (the mayor)....It's my job to articulate what the community feels." 8:14 "Sadly and beneficially at the same time, government moves slowly." - R.F. 8:15 Osborne points out the mayor has no vote (except for a tie) on issues - "the council has the power.'' - Osborne 8:17 Osborne acknowledges that the mayor has a lot of power. He thinks the government has caused a lot of problems. 8:17 He teaches econ and government at Campbell, btw.  
8:18 "If we don't break the cycle...how can we address the problems of the people?" 8:18 Osborne says the power is with the people. 8:19 Fennel says he agrees, but there's a (Ward 7 council seat) job opening. 'Who is more qualified?' he asks.  
8:20 Resident is asking about "the L word" (lobbyist) with regards to Fennel. 8:21 Says he's glad someone in public forum has finally asked him about it.  
8:22 In 1992 he co-authored the ethics in government act here in Georgia he says. 8:22 Law required you to wear a badge telling who you are and who you represent. 8:24 He's proud of helping make that happen. Says he and his co-authors were vilified back in '92 for doing such. 8:24 Talking now about his involvement with the Georgia hospitality and travel industry. 8:25 "Hospitality is my primary focus.'' 8:26 Advocate for being better...."Mine is a messenger job.'' - R.F.  
8:27 "If I can't win an argument based on merit, I don't want to win it.'' - Fennel
8:28 Osborne 13 years as teacher, but many years in business prior to that. "I'm not just a school teacher.''  
8:29 "I love this city, love the people...I will be your voice on the city council...I know you're looking for a voice. I want to be open and accessible....we're all in this together." - Osborne  
8:30 "We live in a great place and we're going to make it better...I know I can make a difference...I love Smyrna. My kids love Smyrna...I look forward to being a cheerleader for it." - Fennel
8:31 Talking about the people he brought to Smyrna today for TEAM Georgia (sober, safe driving campaign) holiday kickoff. "People are taking notice of Smyrna." - R.F.  
8:32 Both candidates thanking everyone and asking for their votes. And that looks like it might be it.  
8:38 And yes, we're done. Thanks for joining us.
Randy Smyrna realist December 02, 2011 at 03:14 PM
I watched Ron Fennel run after Glock people who left the last council meeting displeased with the council vote in the middle of the meeting. Is Ron lobbying for Glock as well?
Neal Dow December 02, 2011 at 05:27 PM
"Fennel: Every election is a vote for term limits according to Fennel. He wouldn't pass term limits. Osborne says he's in favor of two terms." That right there is a reason to vote for Osborne. "Osborne acknowledges that the mayor has a lot of power. He thinks the government has caused a lot of problems." Osborne is a wise man. "Osborne says the power is with the people." In Smyrna that is open for debate.
Brian December 06, 2011 at 04:31 AM
For me, schools are most important. Vision is equally important. I'm voting for Garry who has experiences with school firsthand and who gives substance to explaining his vision. I think Ron may have more experience in public office but this is a council position. We need a strong advocate. I'm really not sure why Ron didn't run for mayor. He may have won over Bacon. Either way, we're better off with Ron Fennel or Garry than what we had in the past. Everyone needs to push hard now for a new master plan, elimination of GC zone, setbacks, and a revised future land use plan with more appropriate use of land. I hope everyone realizes how important the future land use plans are. They get revised in 2012.


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