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Return an Earnest and Dedicated Commissioner to the Third District Seat

Commentary on the candidates forum for the Gwinnett County Commission District 3 seat and why I think MIke Beaudreau is still the best man for the job.

I went into the candidate forum for the Gwinnett County Commission District 3 on March 1 with a very open mind. I told myself I was going to listen to what each of the three candidates had to say and then, based on their answers, I would start to form an opinion of who I thought was the most qualified for the position.

I am well-acquainted with only one of the candidates, the incumbent, Mike Beaudreau. I worked with Commissioner Beaudreau on Karen Handel’s gubernatorial campaign several years ago as well as on County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash’s campaign in 2011. I am familiar with former Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer only by reputation and in passing and I had just met the third candidate Mike Korom that evening prior to the start of the forum.

Given the fact that a local opposition group, Citizens for a Better Gwinnett, was at the meeting in force and that two of the three candidates shared the sentiments of that group I was aware that the tone of the forum was going to be overshadowed sooner or later by the issue of privatizing and commercializing the airport at Briscoe Field.

As it turns out the airport issue, though it did rear its ugly head eventually and the candidates and audience did spar over the details of the possible noise factor, the costs to the county if said expansion failed and when the proposals would be available, was not one that affected my judgment of the candidates fitness for the job of commissioner. What turned the tide of my opinion were some much more basic characteristics of the three candidates.

It became clear to me early on in the forum, after Oberholtzer, Korom and Commissioner Beaudreau introduced themselves, gave their reasons for running and their qualifications, that this wasn’t going to be as hard of a decision as I had thought.

Though I admire and respect a lot of what Jerry Oberholtzer did as Mayor of Snellville, and I know he has many fans in his town, I have to say that I was more than taken aback by the absolutely cavalier attitude he possessed at last Thursday’s forum.

Oberholtzer apparently thought humor was the best angle from which to draw support for his candidacy. His very first words to the crowd were, “I guess I am Larry the Cable guy on this panel.” From there on, from his opening remarks to his stance on the airport, to critiquing his opponents records and to jabs at Commissioner Beaudreau over the grand jury investigation into the now infamous land deals, he chuckled, guffawed, joked, kidded and generally laughed his way through what are, I am sure, serious issues to most Gwinnett citizens, most especially to those willing to attend a community event on a workday evening.

If Mr. Oberholtzer is serious about his candidacy perhaps he would be well-advised to start taking his possible future responsibilities as a county commissioner a great deal more seriously!

As for the political newcomer to Gwinnett politics, Mike Korom, I was aware from the informative flyer he passed out prior to the forum, that he was vehemently opposed to the airport expansion at Briscoe Field. From what I had heard from other people that particular issue seemed to be the main point of his platform. His opening statement and answers to questions seemed very scant and hurried as if he were just waiting for the real issue he cared about to come up.

But when the issue did arise, Korom was not as eloquent or even as passionate as one might imagine he would be, given his supposed dedication to that issue. Instead of offering the audience a glimpse of his leadership abilities through a strong argument against the airport, the new guy on the block merely repeated ad nausea that he was “the outsider” in the group.

If he meant to give people the feeling that he brought fresh ideas and a clean slate to the table, with that little catchphrase, the meaning was hopelessly lost in the repetitions of it. He may have a mile-long business resume but any bright new ideas were seriously missing from his presentation.

Then there was the incumbent, Commissioner Mike Beaudreau. Beaudreau answered questions with firm responses, with the seriousness of a man who knows the gravity of his job to serve the citizens of Gwinnett County and with that stone cold confidence that he is known for and which, though it incurs the wrath of some who disagree with him, is in my opinion an important quality to possess in a county government official.

Have I always agreed with Mike Beaudreau on everything? No. I still have a big problem with the whole trash billing issue. My own trash bill comes from the City of Dacula so I don’t have any dog in that particular hunt except one of general interest. Is Mike the kind of guy who jokes and kids about commission matters? No, he is very often serious- so serious he develops an intensity that sometimes spills over into his conversations.

But there are four things which Beaudreau most assuredly is. He is confident, smart, dedicated and earnest. Earnestness goes a long way with me in an elected official. To say that Mike Beaudreau is anything other than earnest would be false.

Last Thursday night, for the umpteenth time Mike Beaudreau earnestly confronted the ongoing trash controversy with the same confidence as ever, he did what he thought had to be done.  I have heard him explain this on many occasions and although I am still not in agreement, I certainly see where he was coming from and totally appreciate his forthrightness.

You saw that earnestness again as he was explaining why he can’t help people with some of the other things he would like to help them with because they are out of his jurisdiction. He was referring to certain homeowners who had issues in the past with cell towers on their property. Beaudreau pointed out that as much as he would like to be of assistance in those kinds of matters, cell towers are a federal matter, the FCC being in charge of that.

When it came to the pending airport proposals to determine the feasibility of privatizing and commercializing Briscoe Field Commissioner Beaudreau rightfully stood his ground with that trademark confidence and told the crowd that it just wasn’t allowed by law to discuss the matter right now.

Mike knows he can’t please all of the people all of the time and he makes no pretense that he can. Those who want their elected officials to mollycoddle them and tell them everything is peaches and cream and some decisions won’t be hard, and harder still to live with, are not often pleased with Commissioner Beaudreau.

And no, I don’t know all the particulars of the grand jury investigation into the illegal land deals by former County Commissioners but I know enough to know that I don’t know anything for certain! Commissioner Beaudreau has never been indicted on any charges relating to that scandal. I am willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt when I have not been given any further information.

Mike Beaudreau has what I believe to be an unwavering dedication to do the best that he can for the citizens of Gwinnett County. He is brave enough to make those tough, often unpopular decisions. He works for what is in the best interests of not only the most citizens but also in the best interest of efficiency in our county government. Gwinnett County needs a Commissioner with qualities like those possessed by the incumbent.

I know I could watch more forums and discussions as the election season progresses, but truthfully, I don’t see the other candidates coming up with anything more than they did at last Thursday’s meeting in Lawrenceville. So, it is this citizen’s opinion that Mike Beaudreau should be returned to his seat on the Gwinnett County Commission from District 3.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Floyd Akridge March 10, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Very nice Vanessa. I especially like the part where you talked about still being about to respect Commissioner Beaudreau when you disagreed with one of his decisions. I saw this as I worked in his 2004 campaign and it's one of the strong reasons I supported him in 2008 and am doing so in 2012. There are a few others in politics that I feel the same way about and I do mean FEW. Basically he's earned it.
Floyd Akridge March 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Mr.Korom and Mr. Oberholtzer...apparently Kevin Osborne is insinuating that if elected, either of you would become corrupt and look to fill your pockets. Might want to have a talk with him.
Floyd Akridge March 10, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The weather around North Georgia appears to be cloudy with dense fog. Confidence is the correct term...it's confidence from a man motivated by doing what he thinks is right for the people of the District and county he serves.
Floyd Akridge March 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
R...I wholeheartedly agree with the last part of your posting. I cannot encourage participation any more sincerely. I've had the opportunity to visit 16 different countries and no where do we have the opportunity for involvement by citizens like we do here. Take advantage everyone.
Jimmy Orr March 10, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Vanessa, your blog was good journalism. Same has given me a platform to write about an issue that has been and continues to weigh heavily on my mind. As I write, I want to make it plainly clear that Commissioner Beaudreau has been supportive in this issue but also keep in mind that he is only one of five on the Board of Commissioners. Someone in a reply to your blog speaks of a grand jury. This gave me a thought. Perhaps a grand jury should look into an issue that goes all the way back to 2001 and perhaps render a fair and impartial decision which would be in the best interests of ALL of the taxpayers in unicorporated Gwinnett County. The issue I speak is stromwater pipe material standards in residential subdivisions in which the Gwinnett County Dept. of Water Resources Stormwater Utility Division will maintain ongoing once the subdivision is 90% built out, the county has accepted all infrastructure, and the developer has been released from their bond. Keep in mind that the upkeep of stormwater infrastructure comes via way of the stormwater service fee on your annual property tax bill. Last dollar amount that I heard was the county needs $360 million dollars to replace failing stormwater pipes. In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gwinnett Section, Page J1, September 9, 2001, an advisory committee comprised of architects, contractors, developers, and engineers overrode a county staff initiative on their recommendations for stormwater pipe material standards. (Continued)
Jimmy Orr March 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
(Orr Continued) Same thing again on March 15, 2006, when a subcommittee appointed by the same advisory committee made their recommendations on which stormwater pipe materials could be placed beneath roadways. Same thing again on February 16, 2011, when this same advisory committee balked at proposed changes to stormwater pipe material standatds which county staff had presented to the Gwinnett County Stormwater Authority at their February 4, 2011, meeting. For your information the Stormwater Authority, of which I am a member, is a political subdivision of the State of Georgia created by an Act (Senate Bill 147) of the Georgia General Assembly. As of this date, the stormwater pipe material standards are still under "review." The question you taxpayers should be asking is, "Should an advisory committee created by a county directive dictate stormwater pipe material standards to county staff or should county staff make their recommendations to a duly constituted authority who, by up or down vote, would pass staff's recommendations on to the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation to approve or deny?" Should this be looked at by a grand jury or should we give our Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners the opportunity to make a fair and impartial decision which serves the best interest of ALL of the taxpayers in unicorporated Gwinnett? Taxpayers, your call.
M.K. OSBORNE March 10, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Its an old saying Floyd , means its time for a change . You can spin as good as your boy !!
M.K. OSBORNE March 10, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Im sure the other candidates have a better sense of humor and demeaner than your buddy , so yes i would love to talk with them ! I have an idea or suggestion i would like to lay on them .
North Georgia Weather March 11, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Maybe you need to listen to some of his little meetings with people in his district. There was one posted on here if you'd like to hear and see what I'm talking about. Please don't feed me that crap and try to insult my intelligence, who are you, his campaign manager?
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew March 11, 2012 at 03:26 AM
As of this date, the stormwater pipe material standards are still under "review." Yes it sure seems a result is long overdue. Another good issue to place on the table.
Brian Crawford March 11, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Kudos Vanessa on a very well written and thoughtful article. I think it points out that governing is very complicated, very serious, business and it's OK to disagree with our chosen candidates at times. We don't always know the intricacies of every issue and it comes down to who we trust both ethically and as a decision maker. Well done.
Patrick T. Malone March 11, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Well done Vanessa.
Jeff Allen March 11, 2012 at 11:02 PM
NIce job!
Mike Korom March 12, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Vanessa, My goal in what I’m about to post is not an attempt to change your mind. After one debate you’ve made up your mind. Let me also state to everyone that this was my first debate since college. People that know me know that I’m a competitor, driven and committed. After the debate the feeling I had from the people in the room was overwhelmingly positive. I have asked several people for constructive criticism and have taken it to heart. I notice in your bio that you consider yourself very conservative, me too. Now, let’s get back to the issues. 1. Do you believe that the trash plan is a concept based on conservatism? 2. Do you believe that placing a cell phone tower on county property, after the BOC tabled a private owner’s request for consent to do so 20 times on their private property, is a plan based on conservatism? (75 yards away) 3. Do you believe the higher tax burden from the stadium was a sound conservative decision? 4. Do you believe that privatizing/commercializing the airport in these economic times is a sound conservative move? (I know this one’s ‘rearing it’s ugly head’ again, but it is the major issue in this race) (Cont.)
Mike Korom March 12, 2012 at 12:09 AM
(Cont.) For the record, I respect Mr. Beaudreau. However, I strongly disagree with many of his decisions. This is why I’m in the race. I believe District 3 is ready for a true conservative. You make a statement that you, “believe to be an unwavering dedication to do the best that he can for the citizens of Gwinnett County.” There is no question this holds true for Jerry Olberholtzer and myself, as well. I am quite comfortable with the dedication and integrity of all three candidates. The question then returns to the issues because you see in the end, the issues are what count.
M.K. OSBORNE March 12, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Mr Korom , Floyd wants me to talk with you and Jerry about my old politic perception saying , I would love to and also let you know which prominant Gwinnett County Politician i heard it from back when i was a kid . He had a sense of humor and also knew that not only should you need to do right , its just as important to look right.
GregRodgers March 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Thanks..especially for referencing page 28.....With regards to what I said about Mr. Beaudreau and the land deal with the Judge and his friends son... Page 28.. "First, it was a stunning revelation to the Grand Jury that no member of the county staff expressed any reservations about being involved in a real estate transaction where a sitting Senior Superior Court Judge is acting as the seller’s agent. If the Commissioners who testified are to be believed, it is inconceivable that this information was not disclosed prior to any vote to purchase. Leaving aside questions of fees and negotiating a land deal in a judge’s office in the courthouse, the sheer impropriety of this representation should have been a warning sign." And Mr. Akridge accused me of trying to misinform people about Mike? Seem the Grand Jury is trying to misinform people as well....
GregRodgers March 12, 2012 at 01:00 PM
North Georgia...Mr. Akridge has already viewed his pal in action. He calls this confidence...of course it is what it is....arrogance and disregard for the people he governs. He is always right and we the public...well we just do understand the intricacies of politics. Its our fault that we just do not understand Mr. Beaudreau and what he stands for.......
Mike Korom March 12, 2012 at 04:03 PM
For anyone that wishes. I can be reached at mikekorom@bellsouth.net
Stirling Cargill March 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
The comments here are interesting. They range from Commissioner Beaudreau is wonderful to Commissioner Beaudreau is terrible. What that tells me is that Mr. Beaudreau has been doing an excellent job. Having dabbled in politics over the years I can tell you that someone is always unhappy about something. A city councilman I know once said if the council approved a rezoning for someone who wanted to open a business to give away money, someone would file a complaint about the traffic. Something else I know about politics is that one person sees a situation from a whole different angle than another person, and that complainers always speak up more than people who agree with a decision. Seems like the complainers are out in full force here, which leads me to believe I need to do some research and find the real story behind the complaints. I think what I'm going to find is that Mr. Beaudreau made some difficult decisions and whatever he decided someone would be unhappy. Either way, I like that Mr. Beaudreau made decisions and even though I disagree with some of them, I have to respect that he has the courage to stand behind them even when you know what hits the fan.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew March 13, 2012 at 07:41 PM
"leads me to believe I need to do some research and find the real story behind the complaints." At the end of the day, this is exactly what needs to occur and in so doing getting to the baseline thought process that when into the decisions.
Floyd Akridge March 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
"I believe District 3 is ready for a true conservative." There is one there already. 8 years of proven history as a conservative in the act of governance.
Darren Thurmond March 14, 2012 at 06:53 PM
For those interested, I have worked with Mike K. for many years as he has served on his community Board of Directors. He is a hard worker and very sincere about his work and volunteer position in the community. He has proven to be nothing but a guy that says what he truly believes and stands behind his words with his actions. I think it is time for a business man to be involved in the business of the county and not a politician.
M.K. OSBORNE March 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
which candidate supports HB-291 ? If not why ?
M.K. OSBORNE March 16, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I woluld like to see the other candidates or cheerleaders comment on Mr Korom's questions .
Floyd Akridge March 28, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Bev...shame on you. You should be embarassed at a pink slime attempt to attach Commissioner Beaudreau to Bannister and Kennerly. Nothing could be farther than the truth and I dare say the readers here do not share your shameless and factless attacks. Furthermore, Commissioner Beaudreau has not "totally ignored the cries of protests from citizens" regarding Briscoe Field and I challenge you to prove otherwise.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew March 28, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Floyd - Didn’t he serve WITH them?? Didn't he do some internal battling with King Charles? Have you even read the Grand Jury report in its entirety? There appears to be some sliming here but Bev isn’t the primary source … So who are you gonna call?
North Georgia Weather March 29, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Floyd... I challenge you to prove Bev wrong.
Ron McClellan June 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM
QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE: "When it came to the pending airport proposals to determine the feasibility of privatizing and commercializing Briscoe Field Commissioner Beaudreau rightfully stood his ground with that trademark confidence and told the crowd that it just wasn’t allowed by law to discuss the matter right now." Only problem: Mr. Beaudreau is lying. He is allowed to discuss the matter. Chapter 50 of Georgia Code most certainly allows him to discuss it, he just chooses not to, but is NOT required to keep it secret, period. The Open records act allows him to keep it hidden from citizens, but it's a bold-faced lie that he is required to do that. Stop lying to folks, Mr. Beaudreau. Secrecy hurts the Citizens of Gwinnett, and fills the Jail cells with former Gwinnett Offiicals
Ron McClellan June 26, 2012 at 04:34 PM
"Trademark Confidence" . . . more like "being able to look you in the eye while lying directly to your face." No thanks.

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