Braselton welcome signs

Three people are vying for the Braselton Town Council District 1 seat in the upcoming Nov. 5 election.

Candidates for District 1 include incumbent Becky Richardson, Joy Basham and Richard Mayberry.

All three candidates recently responded to a Mainstreet Newspapers' questionnaire. Read their responses below.

Becky Richardson (I)

1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

I sincerely care for the people and the Town of Braselton. Braselton needs strong leadership with the ability to look at new ideas for smart growth while preserving its unique history and character. There is no way to measure the value of experience when it comes to being an effective council member. I have 4 years of experience and have seen 50 years of Braselton development. There were times when I was guilty of being a maverick on the council and that was a good thing at the time. I stand on principle even when my position is not popular.

I firmly believe that the level of service and leadership that I have provided during my term will benefit our community for years to come. I have been a strong voice and brought attention to growth in distribution centers. I understand that the I-85 corridor is the common location for these, but I have been vocal as to the location and volume that we have today. My position and working with the Mayor/Council has resulted in 2 denials and 1 withdrawal of distribution centers during my term.

Effectiveness is key! I am well prepared to commit to Braselton’s future planning and intend to do so with positive and effective leadership, conservative budgeting, planning competencies, and open, honest and transparent governing.

My heart and my passion lie within the Town of Braselton. I want to continue to bring my commitment, my passion and my time to ensuring a better tomorrow for Braselton as she grows and develops, and with your help and divine guidance, I will continue to do so.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

Growth should be guided by the towns comprehensive and land use plans that have been established and approved in prior years. With the challenges of fast growth that lie before us, it is imperative that the town reviews and updates its current Development Code very soon to be best prepared for this growth.

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

Three key issues facing our community:

• Managing Growth/Smart Growth

• Public Safety

• Traffic

I know that growth is going to occur. The question is how do we assure our citizens that growth will be reasonable and measured. With my experience on the council and a lifelong resident, I am convinced that growth should be gradual and not a boom-bust that will only come back to bite us in the end. Measured and gradual growth will give the town time to absorb the costs of development, hire additional police officers and build the necessary infrastructure. We must start at a neutral position to every proposal. This involves starting in the middle and looking at both sides considering the legalities of the property owners on both sides as our U.S. Constitution demands. Mature, fair and responsible deliberations must enter into every decision that the council makes. We must continue to work toward the goals of Braselton’s comprehensive plan in order to protect the quality of life for our citizens and address these issues as part of the big-picture plans for our future. This means ensuring that each decision made is in alignment with Braselton’s future goals. Managing growth will require examination to the drivers of growth and how growth will provide value to our community.

As a strong supporter of the police, it is my intent to search for ways to increase the budget allowing additional police protection in addition to encouraging more community involvement in order to provide the public safety we need for our community's present and future needs. During my current term, we have added 3 officers to our police department.

Unfortunately, traffic is something that we all have to contend with. I have talked to many of our citizens that are concerned with traffic and have felt their frustrations. In the neighborhoods around Highway 53 and the I-85 Interstate exit, the issue is semi-trucks blocking traffic flow. In the short term we must continue using police officers to assist with this issue. The town is diligently working to find better solutions for the congestion. We recently reviewed proper signage which included bigger signs to better assist with no parking. Under review, is to add bigger no parking signs and additional stop signs to be placed where the semi-trucks exit onto Chardonnay Trace, with potential lights. A project to repave with asphalt construction that Georgia Department of Transportation recommended and will last for 10 years could begin as early as Spring 2020. This would add an extra through lane to the existing lanes. As a future solution, the completion of the Braselton Parkway could offer another outlet for the residents in that neighborhood. Congestion is also an issue on Highway 211. The town is working with the Georgia Department of Transportation and moving forward with the widening of Highway 211. Our town officials will have to work diligently and closely with the Georgia Department of Transportation and our county officials to ensure they are doing everything possible to keep traffic flowing as best as possible for Highway 53 and 211.

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

I am a native of, and well-established resident of Braselton. I have been actively involved in the community of Braselton being the second generation of my family to have lived and worked here. I graduated from Jackson County High School. Over the years, I have actively participated in a number of events with churches, schools and local businesses. I am a lifetime member of the Friends of the Braselton-West Jackson Library. My presence and commitment to the community has been woven into the fabric of my life.

During my professional career, I built a career in management with the well branded Fortune 100 Company, Liberty Mutual Insurance. My tenure of 32 years with this organization has allowed me many experiences critical to meeting and exceeding the expectations of the community. As a current member of the Braselton Town Council, I have attended many hours of training from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government/University of Georgia and in June of 2019 received a Certificate of Achievement. For almost 4 years, I have brought advanced business skills to the role and have every intention to deliver superior results. I am customer focused, mature, and have the ability to work well with others. I have the willingness to work hard and exceed goals as I am very decisive, determined and dependable!

I have seen Braselton grow from approximately 250 residents when I was a child to the current approximately 12,000 residents that now call it home. I have witnessed many changes and my belief is that there are greater things to come. I am well versed on the economic and development challenges that face our growing community.

As I have said before, my heart and my passion lie within the Town of Braselton. I will continue to bring my commitment, my passion and my time to ensure a better tomorrow for Braselton as she grows. With your help and divine guidance, I will continue to do so.

JOY BASHAM

1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

When Braselton became my home, I did not have the desire to run for public office. But when I saw an onslaught of developers/outsiders repeatedly attempting to avert the Braselton Development Code, I realized these outsiders were preparing me for just that. As those in my neighborhood and the community saw my dedication to high quality development, my willingness to work with and listen to others, and my diligence toward encouraging smart development, I was encouraged to seek public office. I aspire for Braselton to be a place that families love to call home, and a community where our children return to raise their own families for generations to come. It is my passion to maintain high standards that prepared me to run for the District 1 seat on the Braselton Town Council.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

As Braselton grows, decisions will be based on research that will include the current residents of Braselton and the surrounding areas, not just the developers whose requests are being considered. Current Braselton residents have the expectation that our community will grow following the vision cast by the Braselton Comprehensive Plan and the Braselton zoning laws. Growth is inevitable, but quality of life for our community where citizens can travel by foot, bike, or golf cart to our favorite shops, restaurants, trails, and parks/green spaces, is an important component to that growth.

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

The top challenge for Braselton in the next 10 years is maintaining high quality growth that avoids future blight. With that in mind, here are some issues:

A) Funding: Progress and growth require funding and currently the Town has zero property tax, which is a main source of funding for many cities. After the 2020 census, it will verify the significant growth that this Town has faced in order to re-allocate Braselton's proper portion of the surrounding sales tax funds. A top priority is educating myself on what additional options there are for fund sources without adding a Town property tax.

B) Community Space/Green Space: I suggest creating more green space areas mixed into live-work-play communities. Green space can be a beautiful 70+ acre park, or green space can be smaller, tucked in areas that adjoin with daily destinations. Think about Braselton’s four geographic hubs: Downtown Braselton; the 53 Overlay; the 211 corridor; and Braselton West/Duncan Corners. Because these Braselton hubs span approximately 12+ square miles, are divided by I-85, and sit at the topographic foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, Braselton is not suited for a one-size-fits-all version of green space. Have you ever visited Vickery Village, The Forum, The Avalon, Pinewood Village, Suwanee Town Center and Sugar Hill? These communities illustrate different versions of how to live-work-play. Braselton should be proactively reaching out to these developers for interest in extending these types of projects.

C) Development and Traffic: Development and traffic are frequent companions. However, with intentional planning improving infrastructure that coincides or is ahead of approved development, Braselton can maintain high standards for its residents. This includes not only roads but improvements, so that residents can travel by foot, bike or golf cart.

D) Growth: Here are some questions I use as a filter for determining Smart Growth: (i) How does the proposed development alter Braselton’s Comprehensive Plan and Braselton’s Development Code? (ii) What impact does the proposed development have on the community? (iii) Does the development “fit” and make sense? (iv) Do we currently have the infrastructure to sustain the new development?

As future development decisions are made, we must focus beyond the present to ensure Braselton is a place that our children’s children will want to call home.

E) Blight: The number of warehouses including those that are vacant is one of the major present and future concerns for residents. Braselton needs to protect itself from blight. Please visit my website at www.joybasham.com under the tab “Q&A” for ideas on how Braselton can improve the warehouse concerns.

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

My family consists of three beloved rescue dogs. I am a 6-year brain tumor survivor and have endured 19 surgeries and procedures over a 5-year period. As a result of complications from my tumor treatment, I’ve accepted my existing partial facial paralysis and other deficits as a reminder that obstacles are opportunities for personal growth and development. In addition, I’m blessed to say that I am Brain Tumor free!

I sat on the Board for the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation and have recently stepped down to take on an employment roll with the Foundation to assist in planning events and working with sponsors and donors to raise money to fund research to find a cure for brain tumors. I am also an advocate for mental health awareness and brain tumor support and donate my time to animal rescue and adoption services.

As a former resident of Fayette County, downtown Atlanta, Buckhead, Brookhaven and Southern California, I have experienced both the luxuries and tribulations of city and suburban living. Creating a community with quality development that provides balance in people’s work-play lives will attract businesses and residents for years to come. Braselton deserves to be a community where citizens can travel by foot, bike or golf cart to our favorite shops, restaurants, trails and parks/green spaces. Braselton is a place we all call home and with thoughtful planning will be home for generations to follow.

You may find more about my candidacy at www.joybasham.com. I look forward to serving you on the Braselton Town Council, and I thank you for your support and interest in Braselton's future.

RICHARD MAYBERRY

1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

I am running because I was asked by multiple members of this community. They noticed what I represented and what was accomplished during my time previously as a Braselton Council Member. I entered this race to give Braselton’s citizens and businesses fair representation and be their voice on Braselton’s Town Council.

My main platform points are our growth, traffic and local safety. All of these points go together and must be handled appropriately before there is no turning back.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

Growth is a reality in Braselton. Comprehensive Plans are great, but should be followed. Our present road infrastructure must be improved prior to allowing massive developments into town. Braselton’s growth must be cautious and smart. Quality of life will go down if the growth is too rapid. We need to find solutions sooner rather than later to prepare for the future.

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

Braselton has a slogan of “Work, Live and Play” in Braselton. The percentage of residents who live and work in Braselton is amazingly low. My goal is to push to establish the right mix of jobs and reasonably priced housing. This will help reduce through traffic in Braselton. We also must work with our local employers and aggressively offer job fairs in Braselton.

In addition, local road improvements must be made. I want to see Braselton’s roads be safer and more efficient. This must include working with Jackson County to push for an alternate road connecting Chardonnay Trace to Highway 53. I am committed to making road safety a priority for the Town of Braselton.

Also, communications with constituents is vital. Even though there are many ways constituents can receive information now, I feel it is time we as a town should offer an annual “State of the Town” type meeting for our stakeholders. It can be done and should be done. Also, using other tools like live streaming of our public meetings is vital in moving Braselton in a direction necessary to keep our stakeholders informed. We must embrace our technological tools for the good of our interested stakeholders!

We also must be proactive and improve in a way to stay ahead of our growth. I am Pro-Braselton and would prefer to see us move to make infrastructure improvements prior to us growing at such a rate we will not be able to recover from. Braselton’s history must be protected, but we also need to protect our future by not approving every rezoning and annexation request which may come to a vote.

Finally, I have seen in recent years a high turnover in residents here in Braselton. I have heard reasons such as the excessive traffic, the large rise in warehouses, or too far of a commute. We must learn from our past and make sure we do a better job retaining our residents. Our Mayor/Town Council’s decisions in this next decade will determine whether there’s a better retainment of residents.

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

I am a lifelong resident of the Braselton area, moving within the Town limits in 1997. I attended the Jackson County School System and graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's degree in Finance.

I previously served on the Braselton Zoning Board of Appeals from 2002-2005. I also served on the Braselton Historic Preservation Advisory and the Braselton Land Use Advisory Committees. I served a variety of officer positions for the former Braselton Vineyard Homeowners Association. I am an active member of my church and currently serve as Treasurer for our service organization. I also am a lifetime member of the Friends of the Braselton-West Jackson Library and volunteer in the Braselton Library's AFTERWORDS store.

I previously served as the District 1 Council Member in Braselton for 10 years. I worked diligently in keeping it "Better in Braselton" and if elected, will work hard for the citizens and businesses of Braselton. I will have District 1's back as their representative.

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