Editor's note: Patch reached out to retiring Woodstock City Council member Randy Brewer as he prepares to transition off the council. Brewer decided not to seek re-election to a fifth term and will be replaced by Warren Johnson.
Johnson will be sworn in before the council's Jan. 13, 2014, meeting.
Brewer shared with Patch on the Woodstock's accomplishments while he was in office and what he thinks will be the city's biggest challenges in the near future.
1. What are your plans once you officially roll off the council?
My plans going forward are to spend more time with my wife and kids, dedicate more time to my professional career and spend time traveling with my wife. I have had to sacrifice time with my wife and kids over the last 13 years due to the time it took to fulfill my duties of serving on the city council.
2. During your tenure, what do you think were the city's biggest accomplishments?
During my tenure on the council, I believe the city's largest and most positive accomplishments were implementing the Downtown Master Plan, (completing and opening) Ridgewalk (Parkway) interchange and development of the outlet mall. I believe that we accomplished many great things during my time on the council, but these three things definitely were the most controversial and took the most work, fortitude and courage by the city council to accomplish. I say this because all three of these things had the largest array of emotions and opinions I experienced over any other issue. Specifically, these issues made many citizens very fearful that they would negatively impact their quality of living because they were big changes. That being said, I completely understood their fears because we all get very nervous about change in our lives, especially when it affects you closest to home. These were very drastic changes and developments. In the end I believe the council took the time to really listen to everyone's concerns and, in turn, got it right. I think these three issues were a win-win for the city and all the residents.
3. Was there anything you wanted to see the city achieve that did not happen?
The one thing that I regret we were not able to complete before I left office was the amphitheater and the widening and improvements to Towne Lake Parkway and Arnold Mill Road. But I have complete faith that the staff and the council will get this accomplished in the next two years. These projects had to be pushed back due to the economy, right-of-way acquisitions and more pressing issues, but I know that these are still a top priority for the mayor and council and will be accomplished as soon as possible.
4. Was there anything you personally wanted to see the city implement or explore that did not get done?
The only thing that I wish we would have been able to make more progress with would have been more pedestrian connectivity, especially in the way of connecting more areas of the city with sidewalks. That does not mean the staff and the council did not have a plan and did not make great progress in this area because we did. I especially credit the staff for finding very innovative ways to add several miles of trails and sidewalks in the past few years in a really tough economy. I would just really like to have seen more sidewalks installed; but I have complete confidence it will get done.
5. Moving forward, what do you think the city's biggest challenges are?
I think that moving forward the city's biggest challenges are going to be in transportation planning due to the phenomenal growth and interest in our city and in water and sewer supply and rates. Our staff and council are going to have to stay really proactive in planning for the growth when it comes to transportation planning and especially in water and sewer. I think water is going to be the next generation's biggest issue, including the cost of locating, supplying and treating it. Managing and controlling the cost are going to become more and more difficult. I think the city staff is acting very proactively with our current water well exploration plan. This is looking like it may have huge payoffs in the city being able to have its own water source through the development of multiple wells. It will help the staff and council control cost much better in the future because right now we are completely dependent on Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority and Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority for 100 percent of our water and the rates.
6. What, if any, advice do you have for your successor?
The best advice I would have for my successor or anyone getting into politics is that it is not personal. I am very thankful that I was able to serve with a mayor and council in the last few years that were very professional and no one took anything personally. We each have our own opinions on issues (which is the way it should be) and would have very heated debates. At the end of the night, we all still respected each other’s opinions and remained friends. In fact, I had some of my most heated debates with my closest friends on the council and that is the way it should be. Because in the end, that is what benefits the constituents the most.
7. What do you want to say to the Woodstock residents you've served over the last several years?
I just want to thank the citizens of Woodstock for allowing me to serve them for 13 years. I am so humbled that they sought to put their trust in me and supported me for four terms in office and it was truly an experience of a lifetime. I never intended to serve for more than one or two terms, but I was convinced again and again to run for re-election by my friends and supporters. It was so flattering that so many citizens trusted and supported me enough to ask me to continue to serve. I think that is the ultimate compliment. I am also so grateful for all the terrific people I had the chance to get to know and call friends now. I think that is worth almost as much as anything I feel I accomplished as a councilman. Someone ask me what I wanted my legacy on the council to be and my response was that I would only hope that people would remember me as a honest man of God and a man of integrity. That is all I would want my legacy to be whether it be in life in general, serving the city or anything else.