Sunday, July 30, 2006

What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas after all

Being a Gwinnett resident these past few years, the Gwinnett Co. Board of Commissioners has often provided me with some cheap entertainment. However, their races are always predictable as each one tries to sell themselves as the candidate of "slow growth." Funny enough, I've yet to see any evidence of "slow growth" around me no matter who wins.

Georgia elections have always been colorful. But this one might be a first. Thankfully, I don't live in district 4. But you've gotta admit incumbent Kevin Kennerly has thrown a new twist into this year's race. This "slow growth" proponent was caught on tape gambling with developers in Las Vegas. By now everyone has seen that video. But just in case they didn't, a dvd of the event was mailed out to voters. Maybe someone should alert the Las Vegas office of tourism? ;-)

Digs continue in District 4 race

By Camie Young, Staff Writer

LAWRENCEVILLE — For weeks, Kevin Kenerly has defended himself from negative attacks, most of them anonymous. But facing his first runoff in four election cycles, the county commissioner is turning the tide prior to the Aug. 8 runoff for his District 4 spot. He won’t call it negative campaigning, but he’s pointing out some possibly damaging details about his opponent for the Republican nomination, 27-year-old attorney Jodie Rosser. “To me, what we’re doing is focusing on the facts,” Kenerly said. “I’m going to point out to folks who she really is.”

Loretta Paraguassu, Rosser’s campaign spokeswoman, said the tactics only highlight that Kenerly is in a “shaky position.” She called his point about Rosser only moving into the district just prior to qualifying for the race a “weak challenge” since Rosser grew up just over the county line in Loganville, but Kenerly said her short residency shows she doesn’t know the issues of the district. “I’ve never represented her,” he said. “She doesn’t even know what we’ve been doing in the district much less how to change it.”

While Kenerly has had to defend himself for a DVD anonymously mailed to voters that showed him gambling in Las Vegas with local developers and in a television investigation into his business dealings with one of them, he points out that Rosser has an even stronger tie to builders since her father, J.C. White, owns Almont Homes. Rosser has said she would recuse herself on any zoning involving her father’s company, and she supports impact fees and other measures to slow growth.

Kenerly says he’s improved development in the area, making builders match higher standards while working to improve roads and buy parkland. He touts his lifelong residency in the area and how he coaches football and donates money every year to park programs, countering that Rosser has no community involvement.

Rosser did not return phone calls Friday, but Paraguassu says her local business as a real estate attorney should count as involvement. “She sees why people are coming to Gwinnett and why they are leaving,” Paraguassu said. “She’s very much involved in seeing the people of the district up close when they are at a very important point in their lives.” For round two of the primary cycle, Rosser went back out on her door-to-door campaign, riding a Segway through neighborhoods. “The response has been overwhelming,” she said. “I’m confident that if the people I talk to vote, then I will win.”

This time around, Rosser has the endorsement of Butch Poss, a homeowner activist from the Collins Hill community, who came in third place on the July 18 ballots. But Kenerly says the only endorsement he wants Aug. 8 is that of the voters. He may face an uphill battle, though.

In the past several years, runoffs have often helped second-place finishers rise to the top. Two years ago, Charles Bannister was able to unseat third-termer Wayne Hill from the chairman’s position, while Mike Beaudreau was able to hold onto his lead over Dwight Harrison for the District 3 spot. In 2000, political unknowns Marcia Neaton and John Dunn won commission seats in runoffs.

Kenerly says his race is different. He compares it to the 2004 presidential race. Then, he says, challenger John Kerry criticized President George W. Bush but didn’t offer his own ideas to fix the nation’s problems. “Talk is cheap,” he said. “I want to stand by my record. I walk the walk.”

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