Candidate for Clarkston City Council
A Leader Who Listens
WHY I'M RUNNING
I’m running for Clarkston City Council because I want to make our city a great place to live, to raise a family, and to operate a business. I want to help Clarkston move forward but keep our unique character. To do that, it’s important to me to listen to what residents have to say and to understand their vision for the future of their city. I bring experience gained through a 20-year career in local government, a history of community advocacy, and a commitment to honesty and openness in government.
MY EXPERIENCE & EDUCATION
20 years’ experience in local governments in Atlanta and DeKalb County
Co-chair of the Clarkston Charter Review Committee
Member of the Clarkston Planning and Zoning Board
Member of the Clarkston Zoning Rewrite Technical Advisory Committee
Member of Clarkston’s Housing and Infrastructure Advisory Committee
Co-founder of Save Clarkston’s Neighborhoods community group.
Leadership DeKalb graduate
Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership graduate
Graduate Degree in Urban Studies
Letters from the Tucker Observer
The Tucker Observer invited all candidates running in the Nov. 2 municipal election to submit up to three letters on their behalf. One of the letters could be written by the candidate. Here are the letters in support of Clarkston City Council candidate Susan Hood.
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Dear Tucker Observer,
When Susan told me she was considering running for Clarkston city council I was delighted.
When she told me her signs were ready, I asked to be the first person to get one.
It’s always difficult getting quality people to stand for office and I have long felt Susan would do a fine job on our city council.
I have known Susan for quite a few years now. We started running into each other at city council meetings and having discussions about the state and future of the city. I was impressed with her intelligence and depth of knowledge, especially when it came to zoning, city planning and city organization.
While I was not on the Charter Review Committee, I did attend most of the meetings and was extremely impressed with Susan, who was co-chairperson, and how she organized and meticulously went over every detail of the old charter and covered if it should be kept as is or changed for the better. I got to see firsthand how knowledgeable, experienced, and organized she was.
Susan has shown years of dedication to the citizens of Clarkston and truly loves this city. She is a big fan of open government and has on more than one occasion used her own resources paying for Open Records Requests to make sure things were being conducted ethically.
On a personal note, Susan and I have become close friends in the past year. I have been battling cancer and Susan has driven me to and from dozens of radiation treatments, chemo treatments and checkups and one emergency room visit. I really don’t know what I would have done without her kindness and support, but that’s just the kind caring person she happens to be.
As I said, it’s hard to get people who are extremely qualified, intelligent, and kindhearted to run for public office. So, I am very pleased that someone of Susan’s caliber has decided to run.
And I am even happier to support her and vote for her.
– John Beck, Clarkston
Dear Tucker Observer,
As a former Clarkston City Councilwoman and now the mayor of the most diverse city per square mile, I am honored to serve this wonderful community. I know the importance of being a servant leader and working with a city council with different backgrounds committed to creating a better Clarkston for all people.
Clarkston residents have the choice to select three Council members this November. You want to elect people who will listen to the community, make wise decisions for the entire city, and lead Clarkston with excellence. That person in this election is Susan Hood.
Susan has a strong passion and commitment to educating our community. She co-created Save Clarkston’s Neighborhoods to help residents organize and hold developers accountable for zoning in the community’s best interest. She taught residents about zoning and educated them on their homes’ zoning classification and the implication of future development.
Susan’s advocacy passion is only surpassed by her years of experience in land planning and usage, property acquisition process, and administrating multi-million budget for Dekalb County. Additionally, she has progressive leadership experience as the Former Assistant Director, Zoo Atlanta, Former Director of Special Projects, Visiting Nurse Health System, Former Assistant County Administrator for DeKalb County Parks and Greenspace, and a graduate of Leadership DeKalb. The skill sets obtained in the above positions allow Susan to lead and work with teams and analyze information. Susan has already managed a multi-million budget and made critical decisions that impact DeKalb County’s residents. As a result, she will be able to make the right policies and decisions for Clarkston.
Another excellent quality of Susan is her commitment to the environment and conservation of our scarce resources. She is a graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. For example, Susan expanded DeKalb County’s parkland and greenspace by over 1,000 acres. As Clarkston grows our available parks, maintains our existing nature preserves, and balances development while preserving our urban tree canopy, we need leaders like Susan to create policies to accomplish these goals.
It is my honor to support Susan Hood for Clarkston City Council and respectfully encourage you to vote for Susan Hood on November 2nd or in early voting.
– Beverly H. Burks, Mayor, Clarkston
Dear Tucker Observer,
As a native of Clarkston and former city council member, I know what it takes to do the job and I see in Susan Hood all those qualities. She is committed to making our city the best it can be and she will listen to all citizens. She will use her knowledge and experience to solve problems and move our city forward.
Susan is on several key city boards and committees and has already had a positive impact on the city. She also devotes a lot of time helping residents organize, to understand their rights and how to make their voices heard by elected officials.
She is a champion for open government and the rights of citizens. She spoke up when residents weren’t notified about a large development proposed for their neighborhood. (Her recommendation to begin requiring written notice by the city to near-by property owners in such cases was added to the city’s code.) She organized a community forum on zoning and land use planning. And she helped lead a successful citizen campaign to ensure that the city’s zoning code rewrite was done by a professional firm.
I am so glad Susan is running for city council. I can’t think of anyone better for the job.
– Pat Davis Morris
1) Why are you running for this office?
I am driven by a desire to help my community, to make a difference in the lives of its citizens, to bring positive change to the city, and to ensure that all residents live in a safe, thriving community.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
As a community activist, I have committed my time and experience, gained over a 20+ year career in local government, to help residents organize, understand how government functions and how to empower themselves. As a result, residents have made significant and positive impacts on council decisions, including a successful, citizen-led campaign for council to hire a professional firm to update our zoning code, and reject a proposed approach that did not rely on professionals. I believe strongly that residents’ voices must be heard and if elected I will continue to seek ways to empower them.
3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?
Smart growth - economic and residential - that reflects the character of our city; programs to help residents become first time homeowners here, and to assist those at risk of losing their homes; enhancing public safety through community policing, adding officers, and using technology to augment service levels; and quality-of-life improvements such as sidewalks, bike trail connections, park improvements and ensuring compliance with health and safety codes in apartment developments.
4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing Clarkston?
Ensuring that new development both economic and residential benefits residents and recognizes the unique character of our city; enhancing public safety and quality of life; protecting our environment; supporting low-income residents through partnerships for job training and greater access to job opportunities.
5) What is your current opinion of the Clarkston Police Department and are there any changes you would advocate for if you are elected?
We have a responsive and professional police force. We need to continue funding additional officers; enhance our community outreach; use technology to augment service levels; offer programs for at-risk youth; and develop protocols for responding to situations that are best addressed by mental health professionals.
6) What is your opinion of Clarkston’s current city manager?
This question had been changed to what characteristics our next CM should have. Broad management experience in a small city, preferably one with a diverse population; experience creating city budgets; excellent communication skills; and preferably someone familiar with Georgia’s rules and regulations.
7) Racial justice and diversity have been points of conversation over the last year. What will you do to promote racial justice and diversity in the city of Clarkston?
City council created an advisory committee to address this, so we are moving in the right direction. As a councilmember I will sponsor public forums and discussion groups so residents and councilmembers can learn how issues of racial justice and diversity affect the members of our community and will use this information as a guide to develop programs to address this.
8) What do you think of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what steps do you think the city should take to help reduce the spread of the virus?
Clarkston has done a great job. The city partnered with nonprofits to provide testing and vaccinations; distributed masks, established protocols to protect citizens and employees, posted Covid warning signs in multiple languages, provided rental, mortgage and utility payment assistance, hosted food distribution events. The city is offering a $50 gift card to boost vaccination rates. We need to continue these efforts until Covid is no longer a health emergency.
9) Affordable housing continues to be a challenge for people moving to the Atlanta area. If elected, what steps would you take to promote affordable housing in Clarkston?
Clarkston has several affording housing developments underway which will help address this need. As a member of the Housing and Infrastructure Advisory Committee, I advocated for policies that encourage housing developers to include affordable units in their projects through incentives such as density bonuses or tax advantages. This approach provides for a mix of incomes, rather than concentrating affordable housing in one area.
10) What do you think is Clarkston’s greatest strength?
Our strength comes from a combination of our multiculturism, our small-town vibe and our close-in location.
11) What do you think is Clarkston’s biggest challenge?
Our diversity is at once a strength and our greatest challenge.
12) How would you address what you believe to be Clarkston’s biggest challenge?
Draw on the many benefits of cultural diversity, be mindful of those differences when establishing programs and policies, partner with agencies and nonprofits for assistance, continue police training on serving in a multicultural setting, eliminate barriers to full participation in our community. Celebrate our diversity.
13) What is your opinion of refugee resettlement in Clarkston and if elected would you be in favor of resettling more refugees in the Clarkston area?
I support refugee resettlement in Clarkston. There are a host of nonprofits, resettlement organizations and volunteers here that provide the assistance they need. (Aware of the need not to overburden these agencies, other locations in Georgia are being considered for resettlement programs.) Clarkston is a welcoming city, and our diverse community is a place where refugees can put down roots.
14) If you are elected, what will you do to support the business community in the city of Clarkston?
Hold listening sessions with business owners to learn what their needs are, and tailor our support to address those needs. Create events such as Shop Clarkston and Dine Out in Clarkston; feature local businesses in our publications, partner with near-by cities for larger events and greater exposure for our businesses. Use the bike trail to bring people into downtown.
15) Do you think the city has done enough to promote safety for cyclists and pedestrians and, if not, what changes would you make to make local streets safer?
The city increased pedestrian/cyclist safety by installing both mechanized crossing at major streets and traffic calming devices. Our streetscape project included additional safety improvements. I want Clarkston to be walkable city and I strongly support additional funding for a citywide bike trail network, building sidewalks, traffic/speed control, streetlights, landscaping, and amenities.
16) Clarkston recently dissolved its development authority and plans to start a traditional downtown development authority. What should Clarkston’s DDA look like and what issues would you like the DDA to tackle?
The DDA board will include representation from the business community, citizens and elected officials. It is critical that the DDA consult economic development experts for professional advice and guidance. The DDA should be guided by our Comprehensive Development Plan and adopt a unified rather than a piecemeal approach when considering town center projects.
17) If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government? As co-chair of the Charter Review Committee, I advocated for a focus on ethics in government and one of the CRC’s recommendations was the creation of an Ethics Review Committee to strengthen our ethics ordinance. Ethical behavior goes beyond avoiding conflicts of interest and financial misdeeds. It includes issues of equal access, undue influence, transparency, following established procedures, and honest and unbiased communication with residents. So, yes, if elected, I commit to ethical behavior, not just as required by our code but what is expected by voters.