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Candidates share love of Milton, vision for future at forum

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Milton City Council debate 2021

Milton City Council candidates for the District 1/Post 1 seat deliver opening statements at a forum hosted at St. Aidan's Church on Oct. 12. From left, Adam D'Anella, Jami Tucker and Andrea Verhoff.

MILTON, Ga. — The three candidates vying for the District 1/Post 1 Milton City Council seat faced-off at a forum at St. Aidan’s Church Tuesday, Oct. 12.

The post is currently held by Peyton Jamison, who is running unopposed for mayor.

Attorney Adam D’Anella, small business owner Andrea Verhoff and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member Jami Tucker are competing for the spot on the City Council.

During the forum, the candidates discussed zoning, public safety and the different relationships Milton has with its businesses, residents and surrounding municipalities.

Each candidate shared an appreciation for Milton’s “way of life,” citing the city’s rural layout and its heavily residential-based environment.

The most recent U.S. Census data shows that Milton grew from nearly 33,000 residents in 2010 to just over 41,000 residents in 2020. All three candidates said they would work to encourage manageable growth while still enforcing zoning regulations which limit high-density development.

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“Everyone I’ve talked to going door to door is extremely concerned about overdevelopment,” Tucker said. “I think it’s really important to be good at working with developers as well as working with the landowners. If you can incentivize them and build these larger lots, it’s gonna keep the Milton brand in-tact.”

Verhoff echoed the sentiment, specifically arguing in favor of 3-to-5-acre lot minimums in the zoning code.

“It keeps the rural character of our community in place,” Verhoff said. “It’s also very advantageous for developers. We can market larger homes and larger land lots and bring in quality families into Milton.”

D’Anella suggested that the city should look into implementing growth boundaries around developments before considering making lot size changes to the zoning code. He said that changing the code now would put the property rights of some landowners who have or want single-acre lots in Milton at risk.

“That alleviates the issue of overdevelopment,” D’Anella said. “You’re developing certain things in those areas, and with the … growth boundaries, that solidifies those areas, and that keeps from sewer extension and other overdevelopment of areas.”

All candidates said public safety should remain a priority for the city.

D’Anella said that while he thinks the current setup of the police department and the allocation of officers and resources is sufficient, that might need to be revisited and bolstered as the city grows.

Tucker spoke about reinvigorating the Community Emergency Response Team, which she described as a program that teaches citizens how to provide backup to city first responders.

“It’s an extremely important program that I think would be a great way to invite the community to partake in some of the activities that our first responders have to support,” Tucker said.

While Verhoff applauded Milton first responders, she said she would support providing additional training for mental health calls, noting the rising mental health issues in the country at large and with young people specifically.

“If that is one area where we could receive additional training, not only in our police force, but also in our community, that would be one area I would focus on,” Verhoff said.

Each of the candidates said they would promote positive relationships between the city and its business community.

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While Tucker said she would work to develop creative incentives for new commercial enterprises, she said the city’s first responsibility is to its existing businesses.

Verhoff said she is a staunch supporter of the city’s small business community, being a small business owner herself. She said she supports the current development at Crabapple Market and would work to continue to drive more business to the area. Verhoff also said she would support more businesses that will “bring out families” and said she would support bars in the city.

D’Anella said he would work to incentivize more businesses to come to the city’s commercial areas while ensuring these partners are in keeping with Milton’s “brand.” He said the city should view its businesses as part of the Milton community and that he would work to drive revenue and bring in successful and sustainable businesses to the area.

The candidates also discussed the city’s relationship with surrounding municipalities, namely Alpharetta. All three spoke about the importance of collaboration and said they would look forward to working with other city councils.

Verhoff praised the sitting City Council’s work with other cities and said she would follow their example if elected.

Tucker spoke specifically about agreements with Alpharetta’s Parks Department to waive resident fees for programming and the benefits of working regionally.

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D’Anella discussed the collaborative nature of government as a whole and the importance of working within the Milton government with the mayor and city manager in addition to surrounding cities saying he would do whatever was necessary to “get it done.”

Each candidate also shared their opinion of what an ideal city-to-resident relationship looks like.

Verhoff said she would have an open-door policy and lead with integrity, working to build trust with residents, highlighting the importance of citizen input.

D’Anella stressed the value in a cohesive relationship built on understanding and supporting the needs and desires of residents. He cited the recent passage of a 20-year comprehensive plan as a great example of city and resident collaboration.

Tucker said listening to residents would be paramount, and he gave props to Milton Communications Director Greg Botelho for sending out regular surveys to collect resident input.

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Each candidate closed by sharing their passion for the city and cited their qualifications for office.

D’Anella encouraged residents to be informed voters. He cited his nearly two-decade career applying laws and ordinances as an attorney and helping clients solve problems as chief qualifications for office.

Tucker said she and her family were “blessed” to live in Milton, calling it “an ideal place to live.” She listed her more than 20 years of financial planning and budget analysis experience in addition to her service in the U.S. Navy.

Verhoff talked about her service in the community for more than a decade as well as her experience working in “corporate America,” starting and running her own small business in Milton. She discussed her values and faith and told attendees that she has “no other agenda than a love of Milton.”

Matt Kunz, a former Milton City Council member who helped organize the forum, said the residents were the winners.

“The residents won because they’re the voters, and now they have a better understanding of the candidates and their stances on the issues,” Kunz said.

Appen Media Group and the Milton Herald also helped facilitate the Tuesday evening event, collecting questions from the community for the candidates. The forum was moderated by Appen Media reporter Chamian Cruz.

Early voting for the Nov. 2 election has already begun. For more information about how and where to vote, visit www.fultoncountyga.gov/services/voting-and-elections.

Reach Sydney Dangremond at 770-847-7404. Follow her on Twitter @syddang_.

(4) comments

andreaverhoff

Thank you to everyone who came out for the debate and to Appen Media for the coverage. It's important to do your research to know who you are voting for and understand their tenure in Milton, so I wanted to share some information about me. Milton needs a council person representing them who has been entrenched in this community and has grown with them. My family and I have been part of the Milton community for over a decade. I believe that the combination of my 15 years in corporate America, the launching and building of my small business right here in Milton, and the years of philanthropy service to the community and leadership of our younger generation uniquely qualifies me as someone you can trust to represent the Milton values on City Council.

I believe we need to preserve our land and balance our growth. I believe we need to keep our taxes low and protect our seniors. And where appropriate, I believe we need to further develop the connectivity of our community through the investment of sidewalks and trails.

We’ve grown together in this community, and Milton needs someone who has no agenda other than the LOVE of Milton. You need to trust someone who will represent Milton values in every council decision. Our values align with the values of Milton. With your vote, I would be honored to continue to serve Milton with integrity and good governance for the next 4 years on City Council. For further information on my platform, please visit my page at www.andreaformilton.com

LDG2020

Jami Tucker represents everything we need in Milton to keep its charm and beauty without the constant threat of high taxes and over development. My family supports Jami every step of the way ESPECIALLY since she is a valued Milton citizen and accomplished Navy Veteran. We look forward to Jami making high impact in the weeks and months ahead, Milton is counting on her!

Jami Tucker

I am eager to serve our community as your Milton City Council member. My website is www.TuckerForMilton.com. Thank you for reading the summary and watching this debate, which highlights the experience each candidate offers.

As a veteran U.S. Navy Officer, I have been honored to serve my country. As the Mayor's appointee on the Milton Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, I've had an opportunity to shape our parks, trails and recreational activities and developed partnerships with neighboring cities.

I am the Triple Crown neighborhood HOA Architecture Committee Chairperson, and I have an MBA in finance from Northwestern University/Kellogg Business School. I serve on the Advisory Board of Lanier Technical College's Health and Information Management Program.

My husband and I have been married for 23 years and have three kind, loving children. Our faith is very strong and our passion is rescuing senior dogs (we currently have six). I bring decades of experience in successfully defeating tax increases, fighting overdevelopment and preserving green space, supporting small businesses, and working directly with our fine first responders as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) leader. I also provide emergency communications support as a HAM radio technician. I hope to earn your vote and look forward to having ongoing conversations with our residents and businesses in Milton. If I haven't yet met you in person, please reach out to me. Thank you! - Jami Tucker

abdanella

Thank you for hosting a great debate. As my husband has said, informed voters are the best kind of voters. Check out his website: www.AdamforMilton.com for more information on his platform. Early Voting has already started, get out there and vote!

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