MILTON, Ga. — Early voting wraps up in Milton Nov. 24, where Andrea Verhoff and Jami Tucker are vying for the District 1/Post 1 Milton City Council seat.
A runoff election resulted after none of the candidates secured a majority of the vote in the Nov. 2 election. The seat is currently held by Peyton Jamison who is taking over as the city’s second mayor since its incorporation in 2006.
The runoff election is slated for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 30. Milton residents who registered to vote before Oct. 4 can cast ballots at their assigned precinct.
City of Milton elections are non-partisan and conducted by the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections. City Council members are elected every four years and serve in staggered terms. Although they are elected and serve at-large, they must live in the district they represent.
Each of the candidates were contacted and offered space to tell a little about themselves and their qualifications for office. All were asked the same four questions and given the same amount of space to answer all four.
Here is a rundown of their answers:
Jami Tucker: I am on the Parks and Rec Committee and chair my HOA Architecture Committee. Background: U.S. Navy officer veteran; Emergency Response Team Leader (CERT); Citizens Police Academy graduate; MBA, finance & health services. Successfully led fight against $100 million tax hike in Costa County, Calif. I have been married 23 years with three children.
Andrea Verhoff: An 11-year resident, I operate my small business in Milton. I spent 15 years in corporate America, and remain an active volunteer in several organizations and in our schools. I have proven myself to be a dedicated member of the community and qualified as a trusted voice for all Milton residents.
Milton’s tax base is roughly 15% commercial, 85% residential. Can Milton survive on a dominantly residential tax base?
Jami Tucker: We might survive, but we want to thrive. The issue is we need to maximize our current commercial zones so that businesses are able to thrive and serve the great residents of the city of Milton, while also bringing revenue from our neighboring cities. Dollars travel. If we continue to tax our residents at the maximum millage rate without looking at alternatives, then the rural culture we hold dear will disappear as farms are developed into subdivisions. We need our commercial businesses to soften the blow for our homeowners so we can remain a rural community.
Andrea Verhoff: Yes, not only can Milton survive on a dominantly residential tax base, but Milton will continue to thrive. Our city has two distinct areas reserved for commercial use — Highway 9 and Crabapple. There is still plenty of room to expand our commercial base within these corridors. With lower density compared to other cities, we can sustain our current residential/commercial base because this low density does not strain our city’s resources. As we continue to attract and promote small business in Milton, we will be able to lower residential taxes and increase funding for city programs, like our public safety departments.
How do you plan to engage residents about upcoming decisions you will be asked to make?
Jami Tucker: This campaign has been a stark contrast between the two candidates’ communication strategies. While my opponent remains in her area of town, relying on her supporters to boost her messages, we have directly visited Milton residents across all the four corners of this great city. While she sends out mailers, we’re showing videos of our residents, hearing what’s important to them, and advocating on their behalf. While she remains invisible, we’ve been visible. We’ve run a clean campaign based on the issues Milton residents face every day. With my opponent, no one is quite sure what they’ll get.
Andrea Verhoff: Nearly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket or a computer on their desk. Social media is a fast, safe and efficient means to consistently communicate with constituents. I also look forward to engaging with residents and answering their questions and concerns at regular town hall meetings. I’m here to serve the citizens of Milton, not the other way around. Whether we see eye-to-eye or not, I want every Milton resident to know that we will be able to have an open and honest dialogue where your concerns are listened to and subsequently addressed.
Land use, parks and recreation, public safety and keeping taxes low are highly discussed topics in the City of Milton. However, there are also concerns about transparency, misinformation and rising home prices. How does your vision for Milton address these concerns?
Jami Tucker: What’s at stake today is a unified vision. I am running for council because the current vision appears to be vague, and without complete transparency how can we expect our citizens to unify behind a vision? We’ve seen misinformation used as a tactic by my opponent’s supporters in this campaign as they have tried to dehumanize me and my vision. The only way to overcome that is to remain human, to speak about a vision, and to remain focused on the objectives that make our city the best place to live, work and play.
Andrea Verhoff: The City of Milton was formed in 2006 from unincorporated northern Fulton County because of transparency and land use concerns brought on to us by our county government. My commitment to Milton is to continue to build the community that represents why Milton was formed 15 years ago. Milton is more than just a rural “brand” or border municipality to Cherokee and Forsyth counties. Living in Milton represents a certain way of life with respect to our unique culture and heritage, and it’s important for Milton’s next City Council member to understand this distinction.
The City of Milton is about to turn 15 years old. If you could go back to 2006, how would you have charted a different course for Milton?
Jami Tucker: Because Fulton County continues to keep their focus on downtown Atlanta while taking more and more of our tax dollars, I think it’s imperative that our local government continue the conversation to drive the re-establishment of Milton County. Yes, there are some barriers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t unify with our neighboring cities so that we can form a regional entity that helps us create our own county. It’s an issue that takes strong leadership. Much has been done, but we need to form Milton County so that our dollars remain in Milton.
Andrea Verhoff: As an 11-year resident, I’ve seen Milton grow tremendously. Going back to 2006, I would’ve created Milton’s large lot incentives earlier to slow development of our open spaces. We should have reserved more land for active parks and prioritized the adoption of our trail plan. I also would have been stricter on expanding Milton’s sewer map which paved the way to overdevelopment by the same developers backing my opponent. All in all, though, Milton has been a shining example of how a city can prosper from the beginning, and I’m proud to raise my family in Milton.