Grappling with growth figures to be one of the main tasks for the next Flowery Branch City Council Post 2 member.
The winner of the office in the Nov. 5 general election could see a different Flowery Branch in four years — the extent of the term — with a spate of rezonings and development requests approved over the past year or longer.
Of the two candidates vying for the seat, challenger David Griscom may be a political newcomer, but incumbent Ed Asbridge isn’t that far removed from being one himself.
Asbridge has only served since June 18, when he defeated two opponents in a special election.
But there was barely a learning curve, as the council has been dealing with a steady stream of growth proposals, as well as financial items, such as passage of the fiscal 2019-20 budget.
Occupation: Retired J.C. Penney general manager
Political experience: incumbent; won June 18 special election
Dav id Griscom
Occupation: retired from government work, mostly in public works
Political experience: first run for office
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the city and the staff,” said Asbridge, 77, who is retired from J.C. Penney. “I’ve spent hours of riding around, talking with water consultants, sewer consultants, traffic consultants just to try to bring myself up to speed on how to read some of the reports they do.”
“I am even more excited about that decision now,” he said.
David Griscom spent 30 years working in local government, mostly public works.
“I’ve always worked on the other side and swore I’d never do this,” he said with a laugh.
However, reflecting further, “a lot of my career was spent trying to take care of things that, when decisions had been made, (officials) weren’t looking far enough ahead as to what the implications of the decision was going to be,” he said.
“I’m hoping I can bring some of that (foresight) to the table here,” Griscom added. “I don’t have an anti-bias about anything that’s being done now. I’m just hoping with all my experience on one side, I can apply it to the other side.”
He’s especially concerned about “adequate funding to provide the services that people want.”
“It’s definitely not an easy process,” said Griscom, whose past includes a four-year stint as assistant public works director in Gainesville.
A key issue in Flowery Branch, he believes, is that “the growth of the city staff and services hasn’t kept up with the growth of the community.”
“That, to me, is one of the biggest priorities,” Griscom said. “What level of service is the city supposed to provide and what’s the best way to get there?”
For Asbridge, growth is more than just something that’s coming Flowery Branch’s way. It has arrived, especially with housing starts around the city.
“I just want to make sure it’s strategic and along the guidelines of the (city’s) comprehensive plan,” he said. “We’re going to redo (the plan) next year, and that’s going to be very important.”
Asbridge also noted meeting infrastructure needs that go along with growth, including $25 million in potential loans for sewer and water improvements.