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Lovejoy candidates address growth issues

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

When voters in Lovejoy go to the polls Tuesday, they will decide contests for the city's mayor, and two of the city council's four posts.

They will also decide how the city's leadership deals with Lovejoy's population boom, which has been going on for nearly two decades. There were 754 people living in the city in 1990, but 2006 projections peg the population at 2,465, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Joseph Murphy, a maintenance employee of the county's school system, has been the mayor since 2001, and is seeking his second full term in the office. If he's re-elected, Murphy said he will focus on public safety and additional recreation facilities as top priorities for the next four years. He also wants an elevated crosswalk built over Tara Boulevard, near the intersection with Lovejoy Road, and is pursuing the creation of a city-run police department. "The biggest issue facing the city right now is public safety," Murphy said.

Arlie Auckerman, an 85 year-old retiree, is Murphy's opponent. The big issue on Auckerman's campaign platform is getting the city to build a permanent city hall, but he also believes growth should be curtailed while the state searches for a solution to drought-related issues. "We can't keep building houses, apartments and condos until we make sure the infrastructure is there to take care of the demand," he said.

Bob Lynch, Tommy Green and Latoshia Gray are pursuing Auckerman's vacated seat on the council.

Lynch, a retired military patrolman, said he is running because the city needs to address the issue of growth. The major issues on his platform include: establishing a police department for the city; getting city-limit signs installed, and seeking approval for a commuter rail, which would take passengers between Atlanta and Lovejoy.

"Everybody is looking at us," Lynch said. "We have an opportunity to make this a model community for both the county and the state."

Both Green, a conflict resolution consultant for the Georgia Education Association (GEA), and Gray, a project administrator for a company that works with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), want to see the city rework its plan for growth, which was developed in 2001. They want the council to decide what it wants Lovejoy to look like in 10 years, and decide, in the present, how that vision will be reached.

Green wants the council to think about infrastructure for residential and commercial development, while Gray said a growth plan should include tougher building codes. Both also want the city to provide more opportunities for children.

"We can start, right now, developing the kind of city we want Lovejoy to become," Gray said.

"Lovejoy is seen as the last frontier of Clayton County," Green said. "We need a plan for growth."

Rebekah Holland, a customer service representative, and JoAnn Moore, a school improvement specialist for the county's school system, are running for the Post 3 seat.

If elected, Holland's plans include encouraging subdivisions in Lovejoy to develop their own individual home owners associations, instead of being part of a larger home owners association management company; creating a police department for the city, and establishing an economic development plan Lovejoy.

"We [the residents] want Lovejoy to grow, and to develop a downtown effect, but that requires planning," she said.

Like many of the candidates, Moore believes the city needs to look at both recreational, and public safety issues. She plans to work with other council members to create educational programs at Lovejoy's community center, and recreational activities akin to little leagues, the YMCA or Boys and Girls Clubs. She feels giving children such opportunities would keep them off the streets, and out of trouble.

"We shouldn't have to travel outside of our city to do those kinds of activities," Moore said.

Incumbents Marci Fluellyn, and Bobby Cartwright are unopposed in the races for posts 2 and 4, respectively.