“He’s had the misfortune of a little bit of a hard time in which to work, but he has consistently gone the wrong way, in my opinion, in responding to crisis, in responding to the future, in responding to the present,” Savage said.
Of course, Savage could have supported candidate Bill Byrne in trying to oust Lee, but, “Bill has some headwind you might say,” Savage said. “There are people who don’t like Bill Byrne very much. I can’t always explain why that is. But there’s enough of them that I felt there was a legitimate risk that Bill couldn’t get elected. And my concern was suppose I stay out of it and help Bill and Bill didn’t get elected. Then what?”
Complicating the equation is a third candidate, retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce.
“(Boyce) has not previously been showing any interest in the county government that I’m aware of,” Savage said. “He doesn’t really have a background that’s appropriate to that. His interest is really new found and kind of hard to explain. His explanation to me at the time he got into it is he was outraged by the millage increase, and he had time on his hands because he was retired.”
Savage said he found neither reason Boyce gave convincing since many people were outraged by Lee’s millage increase.
“Nonetheless, I don’t understand why he’s in it,” Savage said. “I don’t understand why some of the folks that are behind him are behind him, and the conventional wisdom is a candidate like that isn’t a likely winner.”
On a spectrum with Lee at one end and Byrne at the other, Savage said he would put Boyce closer to Lee “by quite a bit.”
“I’ve listened very carefully to things he’s said in public,” Savage said of Boyce. “He’s always got a caveat about everything especially on the TSPLOST, he’s always got a trap door in whatever he says about it that avoids the definitive statement. I’d say in terms of political philosophy I’m closer to Bill Byrne, but I also recognize that a collaborative approach to government is very helpful.”
If elected, Savage said he intends to promote economic development that creates high quality employment while protecting Cobb’s suburban lifestyle from the new urbanism, a style that can be seen at Atlantic Station in Midtown with its shops on the ground floor and apartments above.
“That’s not how we are,” Savage said. “We’re not an urban center. We’re a suburb. We’re a place where people have half acre lots and acre lots and those things are basically treated like bad news in the new urbanism type environment. It’s based on the idea that we’re wasteful of resources when we have a family of four living in a 3,000 square foot house on an acre lot. That’s squandering the earth’s resources, and I just fundamentally don’t agree with that idea. I think people live the way we do here in suburban Cobb County because they like it.”
Savage said the term “sprawl” was invented to demonize the suburban landscape.
“I think the vast majority of people who live in suburban Cobb County could live in Atlantic Station or something like it if they wanted to,” he continued. “There’s empty condos all over the city of Atlanta that developers have built and nobody bought, and some of these concepts seem to be built around the idea that that’s what we should kind of lean toward even though there’s no market for it.”
Savage said he put aside his personal interests to seek office because he saw a lack of direction in Cobb leadership and an absence of conservative principles.
“It seemed that we were producing things that just didn’t seem to have a place in the world of a conservative government,” he said.
Not long ago the kinds of items funded through the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, such as brick sidewalks, electronic scoreboards and synthetic turf, would have been considered luxuries, he said.
Another problem is that the county’s operating budget and SPLOST program are becoming mixed, he said.
“We’re doing these replacements of worn out equipment and replacement of air conditioning systems, and things like that that are basically long term heavy maintenance type things as far as I’m concerned, and things that you should plan for in your normal budget when you build a building or anything of that nature, and we’re making that SPLOST. There’s nothing really ‘special’ about replacing worn out air conditioning equipment. That’s something that you can predict and plan for and should predict and plan for. If we don’t have enough money in our normal budget to do planned and predictable maintenance like (road) resurfacing periodically, resurfacing on a normal schedule, we’ve missed out somehow. We’ve done something wrong if we have to have SPLOST to do one of our most basic obligations.”