By Michael Cuneo –
By the end of tonight, Peachtree City will have concluded their 2021 runoff election for mayor and one city council seat, completing one of the most intriguing elections the city has ever seen. Here’s what to expect from your newly elected officials.
The Peachtree City 2021 mayoral race lacked little in the way of drama, with everything from public ridicule of candidates to testy debates between opponents. However, as candidates Kim Leanard and Eric Imker closed on Nov. 2, it was clear that a runoff would be needed as neither candidate was able to capture more than 50% of the vote.
For Learnard, her campaign is focused on fixing fundamental relationship problems and bringing back the arts to the village-style system in Peachtree City.
“What I have is eight years of experience on City Council,” Learnard said of the assets she can bring to the role of mayor. “I have decades-long relationships with community leaders. We won’t solve any of our biggest problems without having positive relationships. I have a proven track record of bringing the right people to the table, something I don’t think any of my opponents can say.”
Bringing the right people to the table is something Learnard is adamant that she can do, but her critics cite her long-standing time in public office as a key indicator that she is incapable of making change.
Learnard served as a councilmember in Peachtree City for eight years and served as director of The LINC, a multi-use path system implemented in Coweta County. Learnard brings experience to the table, but some may argue that not all experience is good experience.
On the other side of the election is Eric Imker, who formerly served as a council member for Peachtree City. Imker is a former computer scientist and engineer who has lots of experience in government, serving in programs for NASA, the Air Force and General Motors. Imker is running on the platform of reducing property taxes and fixing traffic issues within Peachtree City.
‘I am an engineer and computer scientist, but most importantly, I am a professional program manager. Being popular is not a qualification for being mayor. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist either, but I have worked on the Space Shuttle.” Imker said.
Imker also believes in the village concept of Peachtree City, something that he says needs some work. However, Imker says the most significant difference between himself and his opponent is his relationship with the community.
“Most importantly though, I know the citizens. I actually get out there and talk with them at various venues around the city. Over 50 times in the last month and a half. It seems current council members only come out during election season.” Imker said.
While Imker’s camping platform certainly isn’t revolutionary, his experience in both government and strategic planning make him a bright candidate for the next mayor of Peachtree City. Imker’s critics point to his lack of “difference-making” in his past roles in government as a reason not to elect him. What is clear is that the residents of Peachtree City are ready for a change, one that addresses traffic issues and bolsters the city’s foundation. Both Learnard and Imker show vested history in government and community planning, making the decision for voters seemingly more difficult.
Running for Peachtree City council Post 4 are Phil Crane and Frank Destadio. Neither candidate could pull in more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 2., with Destadio earning around 400 more votes than Crane.
Crane is a self-declared young conservative who practices as a chiropractor in Peachtree City. This individual vested interest in the prosperity of Peachtree City is something Crane says separates himself from his opponent, who does not operate a business in the city.
“I’m the only candidate running for Post 4 who was born and raised here in Peachtree City. I also am the only candidate who is a small business owner in the heart of Peachtree City. Finally, I am the only candidate running who is under 35. Owning a home and a business in PTC, I’m the most vested candidate for my seat. Peachtree City and my fortunes at every level are inextricably linked.” Crane said.
One of Crane’s most prominent platform policies is the redevelopment of Peachtree City plumbing and sewer, which he says is decades old and needs desperate repair.
“I plan to leverage the City’s current maintenance plans for the plumbing (expanding the water/sewer system in commercial areas) to increase the rate we establish the fiber optic infrastructure in town.” Crane said.
Fiber optics is something Crane says Peachtree City must have and can help better establish a work-from-home environment for young workers.
Frank Destadio is more than twice the age of Crane, something he says has afforded him the experience needed to serve as a city council member.
“Of the candidates running for the Post 4 position, I feel I am the most qualified. I have a BS in Civil Engineering and an MS in Management for USC. I have been on the PTC Planning Commission for eleven years and Chairman for the past 6 years. I clearly understand PTC and have worked many of the issues that have come up for all these years.” Estadio said.
Estadio has plenty of experience, but his campaign platform is somewhat lacking. When asked by the Fayette County News what his most significant policy would be if elected, Destadio pointed to reforming city council meetings to give more time for public comment.
“I believe the current City Council does not do enough to listen to the PTC residents starting with the Public Hearings. The time limits are ridiculously short, and it appears their goal is to get through that portion of the Council meeting as quickly as possible and not to truly understand the citizens’ concerns.” Destadio said.
Two of these individuals will have secured enough of the vote to earn the title of office holder by the time you’re reading this, setting a new precedent for Peachtree City elections. Whoever is elected will be expected to make a change and convert on their campaign promises, something only time can tell us.