Bob Weatherford has no regrets. “I’ve got four years and I’ve got a record,” Weatherford said. “I haven’t done anything that I would do differently.” Weatherford says he plans to continue representing his district as he has the last four years, but with more focus on the county budget.
The Republican incumbent and 19-year Cobb County resident is defending his seat on the Cobb County Commission, where he represents District 1. The district covers northwest Cobb County. If Weatherford wins it will be his second term. The runoff election will be held on July 24.
Bob Weatherford faces July 24 runoff
Weatherford finished first in a four-person Republican primary but faces Keli Gambrill at the end of this month after failing to secure more than 50 percent of the vote. Regardless of who wins the seat, District 1 will remain a Republican district as no Democrat qualified for the seat.
Weatherford came in at 40.75 percent of the votes with a total tally of 4,935 while his runoff opponent, Gambrill, received 26.21 percent of the vote with a count of 3,174. Once the contest is decided, the winner will begin a four-year term on the BOC.
Weatherford said he has a record to stand on and has no plans to change his strategy going into the runoff.
The budget and transportation
Weatherford said the main focus for District 1 is getting the budget passed and preparing for years to come.
“The primary (task) is getting the budget passed and we need to get that passed this month,” Weatherford said. “We also need to get the budget where it needs to be for years coming forward.”
Weatherford said the public transit issue depends on talks between the legislature and the Board of Commissioners, and the outcome of a referendum outlined in House Bill 930.
“Transportation is pretty much out of our hands,” Weatherford says. “It’s a combination of the legislature and Board of Commissioners with HB-930. We already had one exploratory meeting with them and we expect to have others to figure out what other type of referendum we want to put on the ballot in November 2019.”
House Bill 930 was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in May and creates new regional authority called The ATL, which implements transit projects across 13 metro-Atlanta counties and ensures efficient connectivity among jurisdictions. It would allow Cobb to implement a one-percent sales tax to fund projects in transit.
The bill would allow Cobb to either make the transit plan apply to the county as a whole or to create special transit districts within the county.
“There’s a lot of things up in the air, but that was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor,” Weatherford said. “We have the opportunity to add one-percent sales tax for transit and transportation.”
Weatherford and Gambrill
Gambrill, Weatherford’s opponent, is the former president of People Looking After Neighborhoods.
“Basically, she’s an advocate for slow growth in West Cobb particularly,” Weatherford said. “The primary difference between us is I don’t say no. I work with everyone and see if I can come out with a compromise to ensure the property rights are protected as well as the surrounding citizens.”
His opponent, Gambrill, criticized his vote for a pedestrian bridge near Suntrust Park.
“We’ve seen Mr. Weatherford approve many expenditures that were not in the budget,” Gambrill said in an interview with the Courier.
Weatherford said, “That bridge was in the plans since the beginning and the majority was funded through a partnership with the CID, the state, ourselves, and a few SPLOST funds. That money didn’t come out of the general fund at all. We had very little impact on the general fund. It was necessary to complete that project for both transportation and pedestrians. It was something very necessary.”
Weatherford served as a reserve police officer for more than 20 years and spent 8 years with the Acworth Police Department, becoming a Captain.
He was elected to the Acworth Board of Aldermen, and became Mayor Pro Tem before resigning to run successfully for the Cobb County Commission seat in 2014.
“I stand on that record and I hope the voters will see that I’ve done what I said I’d do and I’ve represented them the best way I know how,” Weatherford says.