If passed by voters, the general obligation bond would be used to redevelop Franklin Road by converting aging apartment buildings into vacant lots ready to market to developers, with $4 million earmarked for pedestrian and landscape improvements to Whitlock Avenue.
Many prominent Mariettans have voiced their support or opposition to the redevelopment bond at town hall meetings hosted by the city and through mailings sent to registered voters.
Most endorsements, like the one from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, cited crime on Franklin Road that has given the corridor a bad reputation with business owners, who are leery to move their companies to the mile-long stretch of road.
This flight of businesses, which has left office complexes vacant and property values falling, is the main reason why Tumlin said he pushed for the redevelopment.
Tumlin, a Marietta native and member of Marietta High’s Class of 1965, said he hasn’t taken any polls on whether the bond will pass, but he feels positive about election night, including his campaign for re-election.
Tumlin said he knew when he first proposed the redevelopment bond that he would be running two campaigns this fall.
Residents are constantly stopping him on the street to talk in detail about Franklin Road.
“My face is pretty well attached to this bond issue, but I have enjoyed the dialogue,” Tumlin said.
Challenging Tumlin for the mayor’s seat is Charley Levinson, a Cobb native who was home-schooled before taking over his family’s printing business in 1994.
Levinson, who opposes the bond, worked off Franklin Road from 2008 until 2011. The poor state of the corridor could have been mitigated with smaller, targeted initiatives like expanding Cobb Community Transit to run a city bus route on Sundays, he believes.
Levinson said there are many voters engaged in this year’s election because of the redevelopment bond issue, but that he has supporters who will be voting “yes” on the bond, just as Tumlin has supporters who openly oppose it.
Levinson said he has been humbled by the support for his campaign and has “confidence that we will pull off something amazing.”
Old Mariettans get tough
Although Ward 4 includes historic homes and tree-lined avenues, the candidates in this year’s race have nearly
broken out in fisticuffs.
This contentious race is not being affected by the redevelopment bond, since both incumbent Andy Morris and challenger Marshall Dye are avid supporters of Tumlin’s plan.
In a letter mailed to voters in Ward 4, Morris touts his ties to Tumlin and said he supports the redevelopment bond that will strengthen the tax base and stabilize the school system.
In August 2012, Andy Morris won a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Van Pearlberg. Before this term, Morris served on the council from 2002 to 2005.
Dye served on the Marietta Board of Zoning Appeals for seven years and is the owner of Court Makers Inc. on Marble Mill Road, Georgia’s largest tennis court-manufacturing company.
In the Morris campaign letter, it hints that Dye is an “obstructionist” to the “world class” WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
Dye said his goal is to continue the harmony between WellStar and Ward 4 and not to stop growth.
Dye said this is his first campaign and he has tried to keep the dialogue positive since he started running in the spring.
Still, Dye said he spent Friday morning replacing campaign signs down Kennesaw Avenue that had been torn down the night before, leaving only the poles behind on one large $45 dollar poster.
Another contest that is pitting two strong candidates against each other is the Ward 1 race between incumbent Annette Lewis and Stuart Fleming.
Fleming is completing his first term on the Marietta Board of Education for Ward 5, but was drawn out of the school board district and into Ward 1 when a new redistricting map was approved by the City Council.
Lewis also served on the Marietta school board from 1994 until 2005.
Fleming said here is not much of a difference on the campaign trail between the school board and City Council, although most questions by voters have been about the redevelopment bond.
“Any time you reach into people’s pocket book, it should be,” Fleming said.
Ward 5 opponent fighting for voter rights
The battle waging in Ward 5 has become even more serious than ones in the neighboring districts.
Anthony Coleman, who has served for three terms on the council, is vying to keep his council seat against opponent Doug Martin, who served in the U.S. Marines and ran for the school board in 2009.
Martin said he already had great name recognition in Ward 5 and the campaign was just a matter of letting voters know he was running.
The plan, Martin said, was to talk to 50 voters a day with each campaign worker reaching 20 more voters. Going door to door, Martin said residents told him they do not feel represented by Coleman.
“All they wanted was Anthony to speak for them,” Martin said. “We talked to businessmen that have never seen their councilman in 12 years.”
Martin even accused Coleman and his supporters of intimidating elderly voters.
“The other side has a history of manipulating votes,” Martin said.
Coleman said he has received a welcoming response as he has campaigned heavily in Ward 5 this election cycle.
“You have to take every election seriously,” Coleman said.
Coleman said the majority of Ward 5 residents are saying they do not want an increase in taxes, which is why he voted against the redevelopment bond being doubled in size from $35 million to $68 million during a July council meeting.