Three Kennesaw City Council seats on the ballot

Kennesaw City HallKennesaw government complex (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

By Rebecca Gaunt

At least one new face will join the Kennesaw City Council with three of the five seats up for a vote on Nov. 2.

Incumbent Pat Ferris, post 3, is unopposed, but posts 4 and 5 each have two candidates vying for the seat. The Council is non-partisan and members serve at large.

Chris Henderson, a principal research engineer and chief scientist with Georgia Tech Research Institute, currently holds the post 4 seat. He is being challenged by Antonio Jones, a small business owner.

Jones challenged James “Doc” Eaton unsuccessfully for post 1 in 2019.

Nimesh Patel currently holds post 5. He was appointed to finish the term when David Blinkhorn resigned to run in the special election for Georgia House District 34. Patel is not running for reelection.

First-time candidate Jon Bothers, an associate broker with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage, and Trey Sinclair, the owner of Dry County Brewing, are running for post 5.

The Courier sent the candidates for post 4 and 5 questions by email. Sinclair did not respond.

Post 4 Candidates

Chris Henderson

1. Why did you decide to run for another term? What do you hope to accomplish as a council member?

I am running for reelection to continue the amazing work we have achieved during my first term. These accomplishments speak for themselves and I’ve listed my favorites in question 3 below. I’m also running because I am not a politician. I have nothing to gain from my position on council other than the joy of helping the community. People are tired of politicians who take the low road and play selfish games. I am an engineer and a normal person. I pride myself in being generous and I always try to take the high road. I am of course human and I still make mistakes. I learn from these mistakes and work to better myself and also help others to ensure they don’t make the same mistakes.

In my next term I plan to continue the vision we have created for Kennesaw. This includes the reimagined walkable downtown including Depot Park complete with a new amphitheater. We will be expanding our sports and other recreation offerings with the opening of the new Rec Center at Adams Park. Thanks to the SPLOST, we have plans to find a new larger home for our incredible Police Department who are currently cramped in City Hall. Finally, we will continue targeted development opportunities and encourage businesses to move to Kennesaw giving our citizens a wonderful city to live, work and play within.

2. Where do you see the city of Kennesaw in 5 years? 10?

Over the coming years we will continue to execute toward our comprehensive plan across Kennesaw. We will establish a bustling walkable downtown district, targeted commercial zones and maintain the residential feeling throughout the rest of Kennesaw. Downtown will become much safer after the completion of the Sardis Street extension project which will reroute much of the traffic off of Main Street. Developments currently underway will extend the downtown footprint toward Cobb Parkway and provide downtown housing options for those who want to be in the middle of the action. Additional developments will create new areas for citizens to live, work and play. These targeted areas will include a blend of commercial and office space providing new jobs and encouraging business to start and move to Kennesaw.

Across the city a variety of housing options will be available to ensure anyone who wants to live in Kennesaw will have a home. I like to refer to this as a “housing ladder” providing options throughout an individual’s phases of life. Imagine the KSU student who begins in shared student housing. Then they graduate and get a small affordable apartment. They get married and move into a starter town home. As they build a family, they buy a larger detached single family home for their kids and pets. When the children grow up and move out, they downsize into a ranch style house in a 55 and up community. This full lifecycle of housing options should be available within the city to ensure people do not have to leave home when they change houses.

3. What do you consider your biggest accomplishments to date as a council member?

There are many accomplishments that I am very proud of, however, I will limit this to my favorite three.

First, my most proud accomplishment was by far my most difficult. Last year, I proved, without doubt, that I can make hard decisions and do what is right. I alone researched and proposed a solution to legally replace the Confederate battle flag in Memorial Park with the original State of Georgia flag. With this change, I was able to honor the history reflected within Memorial Park by removing inaccurate historical symbols. Moreover, I made the park a more approachable and inclusive place for all citizens of Kennesaw.

Second, we built a stable fiscal foundation. In 2017, the City was required to take out a short term tax anticipation loan for $3.6M. These loans are typically issued annually to pay the bills when cash reserves run out. Without raising the millage rate or decreasing service, we were able to reduce the annual loan need to zero and then went further to establish a 6-month reserve fund. This financial stability ensures that Kennesaw is now on solid ground to continue providing top notch services to our citizens.

Finally, I am so proud of my involvement in the new Recreation Center. Early in my term on council I was appointed to the newly formed Rec Center Committee. This committee contained representation from city and county staff along with adults from our community and high school students from both North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain. Working with all these stakeholders, we were able to determine the best fit for Kennesaw leading to the selection of an architect and approval of designs. From there, I was involved in the selection committee for the construction team and have been part of the biweekly meetings throughout construction. Further, I pushed to find a way to build both Phase 1 and Phase 2 at the same time. Funding for Phase 2 was contingent on the approval of the 2022 SPLOST. Once approved by voters in Cobb, we were able to proceed with construction of the entire project which both saved money and ensured there would not be future downtime for construction.

4. Can you address your arrest earlier this year and what has happened since then? What have you done/will you do to restore trust with members of the community who are concerned?

As I mentioned above, I am human and make mistakes. I take full responsibility for the poor decisions which led to my arrest in January, however, it was a turning point for me when Kennesaw PD intervened and saved my life that night. I immediately began addressing the root problems which led to that night, specifically my mental health and related alcohol use. As everyone is aware, 2020 was a unique year full of stressful events. As has become all too common a story, I allowed the stress to build without taking care of myself leading to misuse of alcohol to cope. After that night I also sought professional counseling to address my mental health. Also, I have been sober every day since that night which has led to improved clarity of mind. I have an incredible support system of friends and family who have rallied around me to lift me up. My relationship with my wife and children has never been stronger. For the concerned citizens, I want them to know that I am not who I was. From the aftermath of this event I have become all around a better husband, father, friend, and person in every way. I am so much better than who I was when I was elected four years ago. I accept the person I used to be, I own my mistakes and I have learned from them. This event has only made me stronger. My ability to stand back up, hold my head high, learn and grow proves my quality of character.

5. Any additional comments you’d like to share with readers?

For anyone not familiar with my background, I am a Georgia native, born and raised in Chickamauga, GA where I met my high school sweetheart and now wife Danielle. We have two teenage daughters who attend North Cobb High School. We both attended Mercer University in Macon, GA where I received a Bachelors and Masters of Computer Engineering. Later I received my Masters of Business Administration from Mercer’s Atlanta campus. I am a Principal Research Engineer and Chief Scientist with Georgia Tech Research Institute where I have performed military research for over 17 years.

I like to always be available to the community so please feel free to reach out anytime. You can email me (chrisforkennesaw@gmail.com), find me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/chrisforkennesaw) or give me a call on my cell (404-599-6189).

Antonio Jones

1. Why have you decided to run again and why did you opt to challenge Chris Henderson for his seat this time?

I decided to run again because I was asked to run from local retired leaders in the area. I believe that the Kennesaw community values a melting pot of ideas that can lead us into the future as our city grows. I am not running to challenge Council member Henderson for his seat but instead I give myself to the community of Kennesaw to serve them in any way I can. The people of Kennesaw value morals from their elected officials and in my heart, I feel they are upset with how the city is being portrayed in the media. If the voters of Kennesaw do elect me to Kennesaw City Council Post 4 there will not be two sets of rules – one for elected officials and another for regular citizens. I would like to be held accountable for my actions and not have them swept under the rug due to the position I hold.

2. Where do you see the city of Kennesaw in 5 years? 10?

I am both excited and nervous for the City of Kennesaw in the coming 5 to 10 mark. I am happy to see change happening within the city however I am concerned that our infrastructure may not be able to handle the demand placed upon it. The last thing I would like to see is the community being handed a bill later to fix problems they did not contribute to.

3. How are you involved in the Kennesaw community currently?

Currently I have been volunteering with a local food bank to help people whose families have been affected by Covid-19 and natural disasters.

4. Do you agree with the direction the council has taken the city in for the last few years? Any council decisions you strongly agree/disagree with?

I believe that the council has taken some good steps in the right direction but there are areas we can improve upon. I look forward to being able to bring my ideas for consideration to the mayor and council and work with them to move the city forward.

5. Any additional comments you’d like to share with readers?

I would ask the readers to research the candidates who are currently running and ask themselves what the values they would like to see representing them on their council. I would also ask them to please vote Antonio Jones for Kennesaw City Council post four on November 2, 2021.

Jones’ website is here.

Post 5 Candidates

Jon Bothers

1. Why have you decided to run for Kennesaw City Council post 5?

I am running because more than ever Kennesaw needs council members who have strong leadership skills, high integrity and morals. Kennesaw needs leaders who are truly invested in the well being of our fast-growing, diverse and vibrant community. We need leaders who are truly invested in the people. We also need leaders that our city can be proud of. Leaders that will not embarrass our city by their actions.

We have many opportunities in front of us. The work is challenging, important and meaningful. I am grateful for the outpouring of support from our community, leaders, and many residents who want me on the council.

In both my public and professional lives, I have been a positive, decisive, innovative, gracious leader who understands the importance of cooperation and teamwork to achieve goals.

2. Where do you see the city of Kennesaw in 5 years? 10?

Kennesaw is a city that is currently exploding with growth. There are endless possibilities to what the future could bring to our fantastic community. In 5 to 10 years, I can see a city that is financially stable with two years’ worth of reserve funds. I can see lots of new business, and lots of new families that call Kennesaw home. I can see a city that’s more green and more technically sound with solar power buildings, solar street lights and electric power vehicles. There are endless possibilities.

3. How are you involved in the Kennesaw community currently?

I have called Kennesaw home for many years. My wife and I moved to Kennesaw back in 2003 in hopes to raise a family. Throughout these many years I have volunteered many times. I have worked with several different groups to help build Homes for Humanities. I have also coached softball at Adams Park, coached at Kennesaw First Baptist Church, and currently helping the Kennesaw Mountain Marching Band by volunteering for several different projects.

4. Do you agree with the direction the council has taken the city in for the last few years? Any council decisions you strongly agree/disagree with?

I think the city council is doing a fair job of running the city. I would like to add to their current success.

5. Any additional comments you’d like to share with readers?

The city council recently voted to remove a city ordinance that would prevent fraud among city workers, elected officials and their family members. They voted to remove this ordinance to allow my opponent to run for Post 5, stating that the ordinance was outdated and needed to be removed. Kennesaw City ordinance 6-47 prevents anyone with an alcohol license from working for the city. Two current councilmen openly support my opponent and should not have voted in this decision.

  • Sec. 6-47. – City official, spouse, children prohibited from interest in license.

It shall be unlawful for any elected or full-time appointed official or any employee of the city, or his spouse or minor children, to have any whole, partial or beneficial interest as defined in this article in any license to sell alcoholic beverages in the city.

(Ord. No. 2008-18, § 2, 5-19-08)

Bothers’ website is here.

Trey Sinclair

Sinclair did not respond to the Courier’s requests. His website is here.

Ed-SPLOST VI is also on the ballot. Kennesaw residents can vote early at the Ben Robertson Community Center at 2753 Watts Dr. during these hours:

  • Tuesday – Friday, Oct. 12-15 from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 18 – 22 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 25 – 29 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.

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1 Comment on "Three Kennesaw City Council seats on the ballot"

  1. Deborah Tuggle | October 31, 2021 at 4:51 pm | Reply

    It would have been nice to see a picture along side the questions and response.

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