In Lula, both mayor candidates want to see growth managed the right way in their city.
Incumbent Mayor Jim Grier said he wants to manage development coming to Lula to keep it a place that is attractive to young families.
“That’s a great demographic (young families) to be attracting to Lula because of the energy and the commitment that they bring to families,” Grier said. “We feel like that’s the key to a nice small town atmosphere.”
Many residents want to see a grocery store come to Lula, but for that to happen, the city must endure some growth, Grier said.
Grier has been mayor since 2017 after he won an election against longtime mayor Milton Turner. Grier was an engineer for many years before he switched careers to real estate business in the late 1980s, founding a real estate appraisal company, Southeastern Property Appraisals Inc. He still works as a real estate manager and consultant.
Political experience: Lula mayor since 2017
Occupation: real estate manager and consultant
Top issues: maintaining infrastructure, managing new growth, strong water supply
One of Grier’s main goals for the city going forward is to maintain its healthy water supply and support infrastructure improvements. The city recently approved funds to create a new well with plans to investigate a site for an additional well.
“Staying ahead of that water supply is going to be critical for the city,” Grier said.
He wants to maintain the city’s current position of not levying any city property taxes.
Lula’s downtown area needs to continue to be improved as well, which he said was put on hold during the pandemic when the leader of the recently created Lula Business Association had to move to take care of sick relatives.
“We really want to focus on helping businesses to work together and support each other as well as downtown, so we’re working on some programs for that,” he said.
Political experience: none
Occupation: U.S. Post Office rural carrier
Top issues: city transparency, term limits, city police department, managing new growth
Joe Thomas has lived in Lula with his wife Patti for 32 years. Patti qualified to run for the City Council District 2 seat, but told the Times Wednesday, Sept. 29, she was backing out of the race to put her full support toward her husband’s run for mayor.
More than anything, Joe Thomas stressed the need for more transparency and communication from the city.
“I started running when I realized the city council and the mayor here were not informing people like they should be informed,” Thomas said.
He said the city needed to make better use of its website and try different avenues to keep people informed such as a regular email newsletter.
Thomas currently works as a rural carrier for the U.S. Post Office. Previously, he ran a floral shop in Lula with his wife and ran a commercial printing press for 28 years in Oakwood and Doraville.
Thomas wants the city to have its own police department, he said, though it’s unclear if the city could afford it any time soon. Thomas said he did not want to levy new property taxes to pay for it. Because of their position at the border of Hall and Banks counties, it can be difficult for certain parts of the city to get fast EMS or police service, particularly when the Cobb Street railroad bridge is out of commission. Thomas said he wants the city to add another way over railroad tracks that run through downtown.
“I think I’ve got it figured out, but financing that is going to be unreal,” he said.
He also said he wanted term limits for City Council members, limiting them to only two terms in effort to get fresh ideas. To help control growth, Thomas suggested limiting lot sizes of new developments to one half acre.