By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 09/06/07
Northside has election fever.
In the bigger cities like Johns Creek and Roswell, almost every seat on the ballot drew multiple candidates, and in tiny Mountain Park, seemingly everybody in town qualified.
In Sandy Springs, a special election will be held to fill a newly opened council seat as Dave Greenspan, who represented District 1, resigned late last month to take a job out-of-state.
In Forsyth County, Cumming will have a politically quiet autumn. The city will continue its tradition of letting its sitting council run unopposed.
"I think it's going to be a very active election year," said Rusty Paul, a Sandy Springs City Council member who is president of political consulting firm iSquared Communications. "Municipal elections are now as competitive as legislative races used to be."
Paul said he is not running any city campaigns yet, but said he is negotiating with several candidates.
In the new cities, such as Johns Creek and Milton, the split from Fulton County has brought increased attention to local government."Businesses have higher interest in these races," Paul said. "Developers are interested. Everyone will be very engaged. It's a very politicized world."
Paul said when he first ran for the Stone Mountain City Council in 1977, he borrowed a printing press and cranked out his own fliers to hand out in his neighborhood. Those days are gone, at least on the Northside, which is affluent, educated and familiar with marketing.
"Now they rely on people like me," he said. "I'm not the only one out there. Local races are using the same tools that presidential races are using. Many of them come from corporations that emphasize marketing, and they bring that view to their races."
But ultimately, he said, it comes down to what he called "hand-to-hand combat" â€” shaking hands, asking for votes and making a case.
"It's retail politics," Paul said. "You need to be able to tell people that the services will be high, taxes low, that police will keep them safe, and EMS will be there when they need them."