It Must Be Election Season

Snellville city council meetings always seem to take a strange turn and Monday night’s meeting was no exception. Everything went along smoothly until the last piece of business which was the approval of a contract to renovate the Towne Green.

Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Everyone agreed LAST YEAR that the Green needed some maintenance and improvements. The city asked for bids and when they got them, they were way too high and some people wondered if the work could be done in the time available. So the city decided to postpone the work and ask for new bids this year. Nobody had any objections.

And nobody had any objections Monday night until the floor was opened up for public comment and former mayor Jerry Oberholtzer came up to speak. From his tone and his body language it was obvious he wasn’t just against the contract. He had an axe to grind. He wasn’t just objecting. He was grandstanding. The way he spoke it sounded like a campaign speech. Oberholtzer isn’t running for anything, but judging by the way he spoke and the things he said, I’d say he’s acting like somebody’s campaign manager.

After Oberholtzer finished his comments, council member Barbara Bender replied and for the most part she pretty much said that Oberholtzer’s accusations were incorrect. City Manager Butch Sanders also spoke up and what he said poked a lot of holes in Oberholtzer’s claims. Council member Bobby Howard also made some points that made Oberholtzer’s claims doubtful.

Like I said, it was really strange. So strange, we decided to look at minutes and videos and media reports from last year. What we found makes us really question Oberholtzer’s motives. The improvements were talked about many times and no one ever came up with the slightest objections. Now all of a sudden Oberholtzer thinks these improvements are a terrible thing? Why didn’t he object to them a year ago when they were originally discussed? Why didn’t he have any complaints until it was right before an election? The answer seems obvious.

I’m no political expert. Not by a long shot. But it doesn’t take one to see something that has all the marks of a hidden agenda.

On a more pleasant note, the council unanimously approved resolutions about childhood cancer awareness and named the basketball courts at Briscoe Park after Amanda Riley, a young lady who lost her fight with cancer. Amanda’s parents Barbara and Steve Riley have done a great job raising awareness of childhood cancer and helping with their Amanda Riley Foundation. They were very happy to have the courts named after their daughter who loved playing basketball.

The council also unanimously approved Bill Kingsbury for a Planning Commission seat and approved council member Dave Emanuel to be the city’s representative on the Downtown Development Authority and the Urban Redevelopment Agency.

The next council meeting is September 28th. Hopefully it won’t be as strange but I’m guessing that’s wishful thinking. Election season is here.


  1. I have been told that Joe Newton, the originator of the multiple election “Hit Pieces”, escorted Gary Lapides into City Hall to qualify for the mayors seat in the election. I have also been told that Jerry Oberholzer was the person who convinced Gary to run. He also supposedly told Gary he wouldn’t have to worry about money or campaigning for the election. Many more “Hit Pieces” to come from the Newton printing press?? If all this is true, the nasty Newton connection now shows its true face. The city charter says the mayor’s position is limited to two terms. Jerry served for two terms as mayor. So, it would appear, he wants Gary to be his pawn and Gerry will try to run the city again through Gary, who said he does not care whether he wins or loses. What a threesome of Oberholtzer, Newton and Lapides. Politics at its very worst. And after being undercover for years, Jerry appears at the last few meetings and complains about the cost of the Green improvements, which came in well under the approved budget. And how many multi millions did Jerry spend on the Senior Center and City Hall construction. I am extremely disappointed in Jerry’s disrespect for the city’s political process and his choice of “bedfellows”.

  2. #1. Just because I didn’t show up at the meeting to voice my objections doesn’t mean I haven’t shared them with members of Council. The idea that the green needs a wall to protect people from traffic was actually supported Jerry and Kelly when we were all on Council together. Then as now, the expenses just didn’t make sense. We actually looked at building a permanent stage / amphitheater on the green but the mobile stage cost less and had a lessor impact on the “front yard” of the city.
    #2. The trees, which cost $2338, not 80K, were planted by the Scout of America for their 100th anniversary. We planted 100 trees that day. Most are at Brisco Park already.
    #3. The property on Wisteria was never slated to be a entertainment area or amphitheater. Mike Sabbagh and Kelly Kautz thought that was a great idea. The rest of us, including Jerry at the time, realized that having an outdoor entertainment venue within 100 +/- feet of homes was not a good idea and turning a “bridge to nowhere” into a stage was just plan ridiculous.

    • So do we. It’s a lot nicer when we get to report on the good things like the Amanda Riley Foundation. Steve and Barbara Riley do such a great job and they really do make Snellville proud.

    • The council voted to approve the contract 4-1, so it looks like the project will go as planned.It was really strange because mayor Kautz was all for it and has never objected before. She even said that she changed her mind after listening to Oberholtzer. So is she saying she never looked at the details before or that her opinion changes with the wind? Or was her no vote just part of a political plan between her and Oberholtzer? We’ll probably never know but it doesn’t matter. The council did the right thing. The work that will be done on the Towne Green will make great improvements in its appearance and usefulness.

    • He complained that the Green was the city’s front yard and that the improvements were ruining it. Not much of what he said made much sense. He was upset about trees being relocated, about the fact that there is a water pipe underneath the surface and then he went off and rambled about the Wisteria property and what should be where. All his comments seemed like grandstanding and bitterness. If he had any legitimate objections why didn’t he bring them up a year ago? And why didn’t he do it in a more appropriate time and place? It seemed like he was just an unhappy man who doesn’t like that he isn’t mayor any more.

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