Who Has the Most Engaged Voters? Alpharetta, Milton or Johns Creek?

Vibrant elections say a lot about voter engagement.  Not only do they indicate voters will be voting, but the candidates themselves are voters who cared enough to run for office.

There will be no election in Alpharetta this year.  Mayor David Belle Isle ran un-opposed.  Also, Dan Merkel and Jason Binder ran un-opposed.  For a brief moment it looked like resident Jill Reynolds was going to challenge Jason Binder but she dropped out of the race a few days after qualifying.

The city of Milton is similar.  It too will forego elections this year and incumbents Burt Hewitt, Matt Kunz, and Rick Mohrig will serve again.

But there is another nearby city, a sister city, a city that at one time was considered east Alpharetta, at least as far as postal zones were concerned, that is all about the 2015 election.  Take a look:

Johns Creek General Election
Post 2
Jay Lin, general contractor
Chris Coughlin, senior research scientist
Todd Burkhalter, small business owner

Post 4
Bob Gray, management consulting

Post 6
Steve Broadbent, executive benefits consulting
Tom Radford, small business owner

Special Election
Post 2 Unexpired Term through December 2015
Arun Misra, insurance and real estate sales
Patty Hansen, freelance, editorial and publishing
Chris Coughlin, senior research scientist
Todd Burkhalter, small business owner

Post 5 Unexpired Term through December 2017
Carlos Carbonell, designer
Stephanie Endres, finance
Nazeera Dawood, public health executive

–Source: City of Johns Creek

What is going on in Johns Creek?  While Milton and Alpharetta seem to have no small amount of voter apathy, Johns Creek is bustling.  Videotape of Johns Creek Council meetings indicate they are well attended and that people are speaking up.  Johns Creek seems to have, by far, the most  engaged electorate of the 3 north Fulton cities.

Milton is understandable, to some extent.  It’s a new city (although Johns Creek is new too).  With it’s acreage tracts and subdivisions with large lots that separate neighbor from neighbor, one might conclude that Milton is a place where people either choose to be isolated, or simply become isolated, and therefore dis-engaged.

Alpharetta is not as easy to understand.  Alpharetta has been around awhile.  But, as I alluded to yesterday in my opinion piece, Alpharetta is not what it used to be and is still in a strange stage of becoming what it is due to major development throughout the city and near it’s 4 exits at Georgia 400.   The world economy is threatened by China’s problems and lumber futures recently fell to a 4 year low – a bearish indicator for housing – but development seems to be proceeding in Alpharetta and there is more in the pipelines. The only aberration might be MetLife pulling out of their multi-use, Atlanta Regional impact development at Ga. 400.  In any case, the municipal government of Alpharetta is running neck and neck with North American Properties as the most visible developers in Alpharetta at this time.  What does this say about Alpharetta’s dis-engaged electorate?  It might say that voters are pleased and trust their Councilmen.  “You’re going to have to trust us,” said Mayor Belle Isle back in February.  Or it could be apathy.  “Why should I be at Council meetings when this Council is going to vote the way they want to vote?”  Either way, a politically dis-engaged population spells trouble.

Then, there’s Johns Creek; a new city, a city with good schools – same as Milton and Alpharetta – almost twice the population of Milton, more square miles than Alpharetta.  We’ve praised them here at the Post for their city website and accessible and clear video of Council meetings.  Now, we’re going to praise them for something else – for having voters who are engaged; or at least more engaged than Alpharetta and Milton.


3 Replies to “Who Has the Most Engaged Voters? Alpharetta, Milton or Johns Creek?”

  1. By now you know me by my negative views, and so of course I want to weigh in on this.

    I may not enjoy the job I am working, but it does give me an opportunity to talk with locals. By locals I specifically mean those who live in or very near to the downtown area.

    Those who are new to the area, and mostly those who are immigrants, by far are the most supportive of the changes being implemented in Alpharetta. They love the bustling town and seem to think that density and fast pace translates to success. They have in common one general thing: making money when they sell their property. They also almost exclusively work in an IT field.

    Those I speak to that have been here for at least 30 years (many of those having grown up here, like myself) and especially those who are of my mothers generation, are frustrated and angry. They are upset with development that encroaches not on their property, but on their soul. I know several that still own private residences on N. Main St, and they are constantly hounded by developers that they refuse to bow to. Unfortunately, given this council, a time may come soon when the council decides to condemn their properties and take them via eminent domain. It has done this before, notably in the area of Westside Parkway (I believe, correct me if the location is not correct).

    There is, as you say, some apathy to the process. They have attended the meetings, voiced their opposition, and still the council has voted the way they wanted – siding with developers. The land that was sold out by former residents was not so much so they could take their money and run, but so they could salvage some peace of mind. I met the granddaughter of who could be considered the 1st to sell to development whose farm became the center of the Windward Development in the 80’s. After he saw what it was to be, he regretted it, she said. But other farms and huge tracts fell to developers because the surrounding owners didn’t want to live like that – so they left.

    Therefore in voters you have two groups on opposite sides: Those that love it, and those who are just waiting on their chance to get out of Dodge. If you are just waiting to leave, then you don’t really care anymore. That’s where most of the long-time residents are at.

    But mostly, I think that in general Milton and Alpharetta residents have both seen so much happen that at this point they think it really doesn’t matter. I mean, what is out there that is left to save? Except, as you know, the Equestrian Center. I believe the fight over that has more to do with the home development there on the corner than with its viability. Once it is gone, they might as well rename the town, too.

    Just like pushing out the old families, Alpharetta wants to eradicate anything at all that could be remotely considered “agricultural”.

  2. I totally agree . They are not enough “long time” residents who think they can do anything to change the $$$ hungry, city government , we have in place . If people are frustrated , they have to keep fighting for what they believe , not roll over and play dead . As one of the “crazy horse people ” We , ( especially as women ) have a strong spirit and passion about what is happening ,and it shows up in our voices . I guess we need to stand on the corner of Main and Academy , holding up signs , to demonstrate and make people wake up to what is happening . Not that it would do much good . ( Whoops , there`s the apathy sneaking in !)

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