What in your background makes you qualified for this position?
My background consists of business, management and logistics. After college, I was able to take all three of these hard earned skills and build a career. I have been with my employer for almost 10 years. I entered a male- dominated industry as a part time entry- level position (logistics and transportation). At one point, I was the only female working in my entire district. I worked extremely hard and quickly began making my way through the ranks. I have worked in four different departments within the company and just recently transitioned into a corporate position.
Managing operations consists of wearing many different hats. I am responsible for budgets, operating costs, planning, customer communication, attending sales meetings with our sales representatives and managing associates while encouraging them to work hard to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves — just to name a few. Anyone who has experience with management knows that with the job comes a little of everything. One thing I always remember is without a hardworking team you will never succeed. Employees need to feel validated. A few easy ways to make sure this happens is to allow the associate to feel included in processes and that their opinions do not go unheard. This same mentality needs to be applied to our city. Without our community all working together, we will not succeed. The best way to ensure this happens, is to make sure we are all informed, asked for our opinions, what we would like to see happen in our community and to feel validated.That is when we begin to work together and succeed as a community.
I have a strong work ethic that has allowed me to progress into a corporate position at a Fortune 500 company in less than 10 years. When I commit to something, I see it through. I will apply this same mentality while representing Hoschton. I will serve our community with integrity, collaboration and in an ethical manner.
How do you think Hoschton’s growth should be managed in the coming years?
One of our biggest issues we will face in the near future, will be growth. Prior to our current administration, several developments were approved and it is catching up with us quickly. We are currently allowing variances in order to please the developers and this will catch up with us quickly as well.
Our infrastructures are not ready to handle the growth at the alarming rate it’s coming. Hoschton’s growth impacts more people than just those of us in the city limits. It also impacts those in the surrounding area. Growth will need to be managed in collaboration with GDOT, Jackson and Barrow County, West Jackson Fire Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson County School System. By working with the community at large, we can develop a better plan on what the needs are. With the current traffic issues that continue to get worse (Highway 53 for example), it will negatively impact the quality of life for our residents in the community. By working with the community at large, we can plan better on what the needs are. We also need to work with land owners and developers on how to mitigate the costs associated with new development. The time for reactionary government actions is over. We have the tools and experience to plan for growth and make sure the infrastructure and traffic mitigation is paid for by those creating the need.
I alone do not have all the answers to these increasing issues. I intend to engage with our residents in citizen committees and bring the knowledge and experience of our diverse community together to offer suggestions and insight that will help create solutions that benefit Hoschton. In the end, it will come down to finances. Infrastructure, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) expansion and storage along with traffic mitigating measures (larger roads and traffic lights) all cost money. The developers that cause the needs for these resources should contribute to the costs required to provide the solution. I intend for our city to be forward thinking on these issues. By proper planning we can be prepared. Reinstating our planning and zoning committee and working with Dr. Jerry Weitz will allow Hoschton to be a great partner with our surrounding communities. These changes will impact the residents in a positive manner making Hoschton a wonderful place to call home.
What are the top three issues facing Hoschton in the next 10 years? If elected, how would you address these issues?
The next few years are going to bring challenges to future growth. Mayor Sell’s decision to hire Dr. Jerry Weitz was a good decision to make. My understanding from talking with others in surrounding governments is that he is probably the best planner in our state when free of political influence. I plan to give him that freedom to work with a reinstated planning and zoning committee. During Mayor Sell’s tenure the much needed WWTP expansion was completed to a capacity of 500,000 gallons per day. The Kolter project alone will require approximately 90% of those 500,000 gallons per day. From day one it will be my priority to expand the WWTP capacity to meet the needs of our current citizens and the projects currently approved. I will make sure all possible options are researched and vetted from a construction cost and operational cost perspective. Currently the city relies heavily on pump stations to move WWTP water. These are expensive upfront and in operational costs. Gravity fed systems are much less costly to operate. This will entail looking at current needs and where future growth is likely to take place. It is important to be forward thinking in planning the future so that the infrastructures are ready well before the need is there.
Second, of course, is traffic and the ability to move around and in the city. Each residence creates, on average, twelve vehicle trips a day. Highway 53 is the main corridor of Hoschton and is a state highway. When the Kolter project and the new townhomes and condominium projects approved are completed, they will be generating over 37,000 vehicle trips per day. I will immediately begin discussions with GDOT, Braselton, Jackson and Barrow County leaders about how to best move residents through and around Hoschton. Creating safe travel corridors allows for the safe movement of our citizens in their activities of daily living. Being safe in Hoschton should be our number one priority as a government. If we do not act now to plan for traffic mitigation, the traffic jams in Atlanta will have nothing in comparison to traffic jams in Hoschton.
Lastly, the impact fees on new construction will allow us to expand our parks and recreation sites. As we expand these facilities, I am looking forward to creating activities and events that will bring our residents together. As I have been out canvassing neighborhoods, I have met so many great and kind people. I look forward to fostering a community that includes rather than excludes and divides. Leadership matters and I am very excited about working with the community for Hoschton’s future. I believe the best government is an open government. My idea of a successful government is being transparent, held accountable for actions and collaborative with our community!
Please provide a brief biography of yourself.
If we haven’t had the chance to meet, My name is Lauren O'Leary, one of the two mayoral candidates for Hoschton. I’m excited to have the opportunity to be the voice of our community and invest my time in making our community stronger together.
My hometown is Stockbridge, where I was born and raised. My mom was born and raised in Stockbridge and my parents are still residing there today. My dad was born in a neighboring city, Jonesboro, where he grew up until moving to Stockbridge after he met my mom. While growing up in Stockbridge, it too was a small community until the developers came in. Growing up, if I wasn’t busy playing sports, you would find me with a book in my hand. My mom has always said “it’s amazing how well you did in school and never had to open a textbook”. I have always picked up on material very quickly. If there was something I couldn’t catch onto easily, I worked very hard until I understood the material all while maintaining my honor roll grades. I stayed busy with school, sports and my first job, Kroger. After high school, I attended college at Southern Crescent College where I found my passion for logistics and business.
My husband Andrew and I met when we were 18 years old and we’ve been together ever since. Once we got married, we moved to Gwinnett County. We quickly learned this was not the place we wanted to be nor start a family. The developments were going up everywhere and you could barely navigate around town. When we found Hoschton, we instantly fell in love with the community. We have great schools, low crime rate, beautiful farmland, a small-town feeling and everything else we all love about Hoschton.
Andrew and I have two beautiful daughters, Sadie and Olivia. Sadie attends West Jackson Elementary and we love the staff and teachers. Even though the school is growing rapidly, the staff at WJES still finds a way to make the students all feel individually special. When Sadie is not at school, she spends all of her time outside. She has a passion for horses and her favorite day of the week is when she gets to take her horse riding lessons. Olivia is still young and doesn’t quite know what she wants yet. She may be little, but she has a big personality. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home with flexible hours, so Olivia gets to stay home with me. She is definitely my little shadow. We like to spend our free time boating on Lake Lanier or camping all along the East Coast from mountains to beaches and everywhere in between.
We love Hoschton and are proud to call it our home. One day my girls will be able to call Hoschton their hometown. I am not a business owner or a land owner. I am simply a wife, mom and a neighbor. I want what is best for our community for the sake of my family and the families in our community. Any decisions made in Hoschton will impact my family just like it will my neighbors. I want to see the community working together and have everyone in our community proud to call it home.
I hope to earn your vote on November 2 and stand together to make Hoschton the best it can be all while preserving our small-town feel. Thank you!