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Flowery Branch council, mayor candidates focus on growth at forum
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Flowery Branch candidates talk issues at a Monday night forum. Pictured, from left, are Amy Farah and Councilwoman Monica Beatty, seeking the Post 5 seat; and Michael Justice and Mayor Mike Miller, seeking the mayor’s office. - photo by Jeff Gill

From luring more business to Flowery Branch to the South Hall city having more of a community feel, candidates for City Council and the mayor’s office talked about far-ranging topics at a political forum Monday night.

The 1 1/2-hour event, sponsored by the South Hall Republican Club, hit on a couple of touchy subjects but was mostly civil as candidates laid out visions for the city and talked about why they should be elected Nov. 7.

Growth remained a steady topic throughout.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve had developers approach the city about four residential possibilities that would total over 500 homes in the downtown area, so it’s almost ‘build it and they will come,’” Mayor Mike Miller said.

He was referring to how he believes the city’s investment in downtown, including a new City Hall off Railroad Avenue, is drawing attention to that part of the city.

His opponent, Michael Justice, said all the city’s dollars and debts “are in this part of the city, not in the whole city.”

He said he believes “we have to find a way — and I think government can do this, or at least help — to foster an idea of one Flowery Branch community.”

The event, held at the Flowery Branch Depot on Main Street, also featured Amy Farah and
Councilwoman Monica Beatty, who are seeking the Post 5 seat; and Post 3 Councilman Fred Richards and Post 4 Councilman Joe Anglin, who are unopposed.

“I want to be the next mayor not because Mike Miller’s done a bad job,” Justice said. “I just think we need a change. I have an education I think will help in the role, I’ve been a corporate executive, I’ve been a consultant and an entrepreneur.”

Miller touted his experience, saying, “I don’t need on-the-job training. I have the contacts, and I’ve built the relationships with other elected officials and community business leaders over the last eight years that will continue moving our city forward.”

Farah, an educator, said she believes she has “the skillset that would add value to the community where I live.”

“I can promise you I’m a learner, a self-proclaimed nerd. I’m going to research, research, research. … I want to know the whole picture. I feel that’s the only way to make an informed decision.”

Beatty said she wants to see the city continue improving infrastructure, the redevelopment of
The downtown area and bringing in new businesses to the city.

“I’ve enjoyed my time on the city council,” she said. “I believe we’ve worked well together in moving the city forward.”