Two City Council Candidates MIA

The new city of Peachtree Corners has 19 candidates running for six city council seats but two have been no-shows at the recent Candidate Forums.


By Gay Wiley Shook

We are into the last three campaigning weeks over here in Peachtree Corners when the candidates who duly qualified to run for one of the six seats on our inaugural city council are trying to meet as many people as they can and make the best argument for voters to select them. We vote for our Peachtree Corners City Council members on Georgia’s Super Tuesday Election Day, March 6, 2012.

One candidate for Post 3, Vera Nercessian, has already notified the Gwinnett County Board of Elections that she has changed her mind and no longer wants to be a candidate.  She does not get a refund of her qualifying fee. There are two other candidates that are non-responsive to phone calls and missing in action: Nneka Chukwu, Post 1, and Robert Indech, Post 4. They have, as of this date, not notified the Board of Elections that they are withdrawing. So, are they withdrawing or not?  What is going on here?

Both Chukwu and Indech did not respond to the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association’s invitation to participate in three candidates’ forums held on January 30th, January 31st, and February 6th, 2012.  They were no-shows at all three of the candidates’ forums.  Presumably, if they do not officially remove their name from the ballot, they will still be listed as a candidate.

If the intent of these shadow candidates is just to see how many people will vote for them anyway without one iota of effort on their part to make themselves available to the public they have ostensibly offered to serve, this is a crummy game they are playing.  If they have indeed changed their mind about being a candidate, they need to take the proper step and notify the Board of Elections in writing of their intention to withdraw.

The 17 remaining candidates have been working hard to raise money to support their campaigns and to get around to meet as many people in their districts as they can.  Peachtree Corners, with its three geographical districts, is a large area. It will be the largest city in Gwinnett County when it is up and running on July 1, 2012. The candidates who have done the work should be the ones who are elected. Shame on any voter who casts a ballot for Nneka Chukwu or Robert Indech!

The (UPCCA) is hosting one final Meet & Greet for the city council candidates on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 at Fellowship Hall, 5575 Peachtree Parkway, at 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.  Candidates will be available to meet with constituents and will have campaign materials available. There will be no program; this will be an informal “come and go” to meet and greet candidates of whom you may still have questions.

Editor's note: Gay Shook  serves as 2012 program chairman for UPCCA. She also writes a weekly commentary on a variety of subjects for "The Weekly," an online publication that provides local news for Peachtree Corners and surrounding cities.

Jimmy February 16, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Some have suggested that UPCCA has 'packed' the ballot in several districts in order to force a runoff and increase the odds of one of their favorites winning the seat. If their intent is to ensure that the new city council is full of UPCCA yes-men and women, "this is a crummy game they are playing" indeed...
Robert Byars February 17, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Jimmy, if you were able to attend the forums, you saw that there is a great mixture of candidates that are currently running for city council. This entire election process has been fair and open to anybody who would want to step up and run for office. This election is not about yes or no any longer; this is about the future of Peachtree Corners and its citizens. Every single one of the candidates that are actively campaigning had made the conscience decision months ago that they could provide the leadership that Peachtree Corners will need on its city council. These suggestions of the ballot purposely being “packed” are unfortunate. I say unfortunate because it devalues the commitment and the hard work that the candidates have undertaken in order to represent our fellow neighbors. The sheer number of candidates that we have running for the six posts truly represents the sense of community involvement and leadership that we as a city have to offer. Personally, I have come to know and respect all of the candidates that are running, and I know that each of them, as am I, are concerned with what really matters: our neighborhoods, fiscal responsibility, budgetary planning that works for the community, proper zoning, code enforcement, and overall serving the needs of the citizens of Peachtree Corners.
Robert Byars February 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I applaud the participation and diversity of my fellow candidates. We are all very open to discuss any issue or concern that you may have pertaining to how we will represent you and your neighbors. In fact, I encourage you to come out to the: Peachtree Corners Candidate Meet & Greet Saturday, February 18, 2012 2:30pm – 4:30pm Grouchy’s NY Deli 5275 Peachtree Parkway Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 Or if you can’t make it tomorrow there is the: City Council Meet and Greet Monday, February 27, 2012 7:30pm – 9:30pm Christ the King Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall 5575 Peachtree Parkway Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 These are prime opportunities to ask any question to any of the candidates that are there. Hopefully, you’ll be able gain a perspective of where the candidates come from and what they would like to see for the future of the city.
Jimmy February 18, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Mr Byars, I went to the forum for my district and couldnt help but notice that most of the answers I heard were the same. 'We'll do low or no taxes, we'll pay less for trash, we'll adopt the county's ordinances', the same non- specific crap we heard last summer. And most of the candidates have ties to UPCCA. The only diversity I saw was in physical appearance, not much diversity in opinion or perspective.
David B. Manley February 18, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Jimmy, I'm not sure of the answers that you are looking for. Perhaps you can take the opportunity to confront candidates, and express your opinions, directly or at one of the two "meet and greets." I haven't reviewed the rules, but perhaps you can use Patch and other means to support a write-in candicacy for yourself or other like-minded individual. With a Council confined to limited duties, and doubting that any candidate will be against low or no taxes and cheaper waste managment, perhaps you should vote on the basis of experience, character, personality, and viewpoint on government.
Brent Johnson February 19, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Jimmy, I will have an answer to you and the rest of the city on my next blog post. Fyi I had nothing to do with the upcca. There are very few candidates that are free and clear of the shadow that they have cast.
Judy February 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Agree, Jimmy. Several people have asked me about the candidates running, wondering that very same thing. They do not want a UPCCA 'posse' on the city council. I think you have a valid point.
Jimmy February 19, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Thank you Mr Manley and Mr Johnson for your replies...Its not so much I am looking for specific answers as much as I am looking for different answers. As noted the council is confined to limited duties. But none have experience in government, and they all claim to believe in smaller government. Yet except for a few, like Mr Johnson, they not only voted for more government, they actively promoted it (one even claimed to have helped write the charter). If all we are doing is making UPCCA the city government, what do we need UPCCA for, and vice-versa?
Judy February 19, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I think Jimmy has a valid point, which has been brought up to me more than once by friends. I am trying to support candidates who have the same thinking that I have, but also have no ties to the UPCCA. I haven't agreed with their 'brand' in the past. I voted "no" on the city. One of the candidates actually said at one of the forums put on by the UPCCA said, "the people who voted no did so because they didn't understand it". What this candidate forgot was that according to the final vote tally for/against the city, almost 1/2 of the audience had voted no. Not a real smart statement.
Scott Ehrlich February 19, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Jimmy, I agree with your sentiments and I speak as someone that handled the email distribution and created the website for the UPCCA. I have not been shy about my role in doing so and if my past involvement there taints me in your opinion so you cannot consider for me, I would be disappointed but understand. I do want to say that the reason I got involved in doing so in the first place is because when I moved here a few years back, I wanted to get a better sense of what was going on in local government so I could see where my tax money was going. When I found out about the UPCCA, I wanted to contact them to get a better sense of what was going on but there was no contact information available so, when I had the chance to create a better platform for residents to find out and reach out to the people who are actively involved in making our then unofficial city work, I jumped at the chance (I don't really have a background in web design or anything like that but I was asked and figured it out for this project). I'm proud of the work I was able to do on that as I felt it brought alot of people into the process, including many in my own neighborhood who had never even heard of the UPCCA, and by creating a clearinghouse of information as to who the people in this organization were, how you can get in touch with them, and allowed you to sign up for their email list, alot of people that were for, against, or indifferent to them were at least able to get more information.
Scott Ehrlich February 19, 2012 at 09:26 PM
To clarify, Jimmy, when I said I agree with your sentiments, I don't mean anything about "packing the ballot" as I have no reason to believe that to be true, although I'd imagine strategically candidates with strong ties to the organization chose not to run against others with strong ties to the organization. But I do agree that we need a diverse group of people on the council, not diversity from the sense of race, gender, or sexual orientation, but in terms of political views as to what we want accomplished here. Frankly, as someone that was for the city, I was very disappointed that more no city people didn't run for the council. I thought, percentage wise, we'd have at least 2 no city people on there, and that would be a great asset to diversity of thought on the council. We are electing 7 people making a total of $57K a year of our tax/franchise fee money, and if everyone elected is just going to vote the same way and rubber stamp any idea that comes through, I question the point of it as well. But the candidates right now are who they are and I hope the voters are careful in putting at least some people on the council who are skeptical of any changes to the charter and resolute in their defense of minimal government once in power. If my prior involvement in the UPCCA or city campaign makes me unelectable, so be it, but I'd appreciate voters judging all candidates, both those who pushed for and against the city, on their own ideas, convictions, and merits.
Bob February 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Jimmy, your point is valid and one of the reasons why I have been on here and have discussed with the candidates at the forums what their stances are on certain issues that may arise. For the most part the only differences between each candidate is how many years the candidate has spent coaching t-ball or leading a Boy Scouts. However, the Post 4 candidates are slightly different. Jeanne Aulbach has stated that she would be happy to have the Sturbridge apartments torn down and a high rise building be put there instead, should one ever be proposed on that site. The other two candidates are against that idea. Post 5 candidates are all for keeping taxes low and delivering on the promise of the Charter and maintaining the familial aspect of Peachtree Corners. Post 6 candidates offer a little more in terms of experience and substance. Mr. Cobb has actually dealt with zoning and could be an asset. Mr. Greatwick and Mr. Stickney both feel that their experience in the private section will be beneficial. Mr. Leader has proposed the "pay as you go" method of trash delivery that is similar to Duluth's.
Jeanne Aulbach February 20, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Bob, thanks for noticing the difference and for spelling my name correctly.  I would like to clarify my position. First, I understand that Sturbridge Square is about 30% occupied. Those who live there live in terrible rat and roach infested “homes”, if that is the right description. The apartments are decaying. No matter what, there will have to be change there. Code compliance will require that the property be brought up to a common standard. It may not be cost effective for the owner to do so. That was evidenced by the move last year to attempt to place a big-box store on that property. The attempt failed, not just because of opposition, but also because of zoning and watershed management requirements. So it comes down to either upgrading the existing usage or finding another use for that property that will provide an adequate return to the owner, the developer and the community. In the process, we have to remember that there are people living there now who will need help in relocating. I am committed to working with any organization that can help with that relocation to ensure those people have a good roof over their heads.
Jeanne Aulbach February 20, 2012 at 02:09 AM
So given that the most likely scenario is new development, what would be appropriate? My comment in the forum was that I would support a mid-rise (not high-rise) retirement community on that site. It is ideal for mixed use and there is no residential close enough that would be overlooked by the building. You could have retail and restaurants on the lower level and a continuous care retirement community (CCRC) above that. My Dad lives in a CCRC in Roswell off Woodstock Road and I can state for the record that the folks that live there do not cause any traffic congestion! Plus, we have nowhere today where our Peachtree Corners retirees can downsize to. Given the lack of undeveloped property in the area, building up to be able to give retirees an option may be a good thing. An additional difference, my opponents were against more apartments as am I. A CCRC is not an apartment development. The units are more like condos, with an implied ownership. http://jeanne4peachtreecorners.com/
Eric Ayers February 20, 2012 at 02:18 AM
I might be wrong here, but from my perspective, the UPCCA was pretty much the only form of representation we had before the formation of the city, so it should be no surprise that those same people that wanted to be active in governance before are interested in governance now. And I don't think any one could get elected who didn't promise low taxes and cheap services and a pragmatic approach to getting the city government started. This election is a good opportunity for us to understand 'zoning'. I mean we might think we know what it means, but should it a reactive or proactive process? What is the goal? Keep things from changing or having certain targets in mind. I've been reading the "what is your vision for the next 20 years?" questions. I think that is where you will find a bit of light start to shine between the candidates.
David B. Manley February 20, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Jeanne, I find your thoughts about Sturbridge Square well thought out and compelling. The discussion about Sturbridge shows that folks need to investigate candidates' qualifications and positions carefully rather than rely solely on commentators who may wish to forward their particular agendas.
Jeanne Aulbach February 20, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Jimmy, as a former Board member of UPCCA, I can assure you there was no "packing of the ballot" or recruiting of UPPCA members to run for city council. And trust me that no one wants to be in a runoff. Everyone who is running made their own choice. For me it was a difficult choice as I was exhausted by the city campaign and another campaign seemed overwhelming. I chose to run because the first council is so critical. That first council will lay the foundation of the city and it needs to be solid. No one coerced me, no one recruited me. It was my decision only. I could not walk away and let others who might not understand the real intent of those who worked to bring the city into being; a limited service, cost effective and community friendly city. But I am curious as to just what the UPCCA has done that would cause you to make the accusation you have made?
Jimmy February 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Ms. Aulbach, as far as I can tell UPCCA has done some good things around here. I simply repeated a rumor I have heard lately in response to the original author's unfounded accusation of game playing by two of the candidates. Where is the outrage for that? Based on the responses to this thread so far, I am not the only one who heard that UPCCA might be loading up on candidates.
Robert Byars February 20, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Jimmy, David is absolutely right when it comes to expressing your opinions directly. I would be more than happy to speak with you and discuss any concerns that you or others may have with the future of Peachtree Corners. As not only a candidate, but also as a neighbor, I have my own concerns of what could potentially occur if we do not have a city council that looks out for the citizens in each of the city's posts. Even if you did not vote for the city, the city council now has the responsibility to represent all of the citizens and their needs. That is why I advocate so strongly for Protection By Referendum, open and honest communication, informed decision making, and just flat out good, competent and ethical leadership. That is also why dialog such as this is necessary, to see what concerns are out there and address them head on. If you are not able to meet in person, create a list of your concerns and email it to each of the candidates. I know that I have addressed several questions already through phone calls or email, so I'm sure that the other candidates will as well. Feel free to email me anytime at info@robertbyars.com.
Bob Martell February 21, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Jeanne, thank you for expounding on your high-rise/ mid-rise answer at the forum...I've been meaning to ask you about that further .Was wondering how you reconciled that with your objection to the low rise condos built near your neighborhood. Thanks for clarifying. Bob
Jeanne Aulbach February 21, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Bob, it will take a blog to clarify as the story is a bit long for a comment, but trust me, this is not a NIMBY issue. Hope to have it written by this evening. Some of us have to work for a living!
David Leader February 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
For what it's worth; Robert Indech has actually made an appearance. He has spoken on the Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee's Facebook; and yesterday while I was putting my signs up I had noted he had put up quite a few as well. So looks like he is giving a "late game" run. Still no word on Nneka as of yet.
Bob Martell February 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Yes we do! Hence my delay in asking you about this subject...but I was being sincere, I appreciate your clarification and from my perspective no further explanation is necessary. And getting back to the original topic of this article, we have 'found' Robert Indech. Apparently, reports of his campaign's demise were premature. Everybody can read his candidate questionaire on the PCBCs website http://www.peachtreecornersfacts.com/index.htm and from there they can link to our facebook page where a number of candidates have been discussing a variety of topics with voters.
Jeanne Aulbach February 21, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Thanks, Bob. My neighbors and I had hoped to have an office building behind Avocet. I actually would have been happy with a mid-rise retirement community, particularly if it was a CCRC. Our property values would have been less impacted by those. Instead we have townhomes. Your sincerity has never been suspect. :-)
K Wade March 04, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Maybe some candidates want to run in their own way.


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