Johns Creek mayoral candidates have contentious debate

Johns Creek mayoral candidates John Bradberry and Brian Weaver sparred over their vision for the city during a Thursday debate. (Courtesy City of Johns Creek)

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Johns Creek mayoral candidates John Bradberry and Brian Weaver sparred over their vision for the city during a Thursday debate. (Courtesy City of Johns Creek)

Johns Creek mayoral candidates John Bradberry and Brian Weaver sparred over their vision for the city during a Thursday debate. While much of the conversation focused on the town center master plan and stormwater problems, the men seized on opportunities to criticize each other for past actions.

Weaver criticized Councilman Bradberry for his vote in August 2020 to approve a $325,000 payment to former police chief Chris Byers in a settlement related to his resignation. And Bradberry accused former Councilman Weaver of posturing separately as a Democrat and Republican to win votes in a nonpartisan election.

Student Leadership Johns Creek hosted the debate at The Standard Club. The high school students asked the candidates about affordable housing, defunding the police, vaccinations and mask mandates.

Johns Creek created a master plan to create a town center in Technology Park across from Johns Creek Emory Hospital at Medlock Bridge and McGinnis Ferry Roads. The town center plans include City Hall, residential living, restaurants, shopping, a linear park and performing arts center. The master plan is to be presented by city staff to the Planning Commission and City Council next month.

“People in Johns Creek are tired of going to Peachtree Corners (and) … Avalon to spend their money,” Weaver said, of the need for a town center. “They would like to spend their money here in Johns Creek and I would make sure I can get that done,” Weaver said.

Weaver said his career in law enforcement and on City Council has helped him form the relationships needed to complete the town center project successfully.

Bradberry said performing arts center could cost up to $75 million and he thinks a partnership with other communities could help pay for the venue.

“I think if we’re going to make this thing a reality we’ve got to be creative and we’ve got to reach out to places like Forsyth County,” Bradberry said. “Because they might be a big beneficiary and they should shoulder some of the cost.”

In discussing stormwater problems, both candidates said they were concerned for neighbors on property that lies outside of the city’s stormwater service area who say erosion, damage and maintenance has been costly. Bradberry said he’s working on a solution and said he would share details during an upcoming town hall.

Johns Creek recently imposed a stormwater fee within a service area to help address repairs to damaged infrastructure. Weaver said he pushed for the city to pass the stormwater utility ordinance in the summer before he resigned from City Council, adding that Johns Creek has hired staff to access long overlooked stormwater damage. Weaver resigned his seat, he said, to save the city the cost of a special election to fill his Post 2 seat should he win the mayor’s race.

In a “lightning round” of questions the candidates held up signs that read “yes” or “no” for their responses.

Weaver responded yes to a city-managed trash collection service. Bradberry replied no. Both gestured no to defunding the police. Weaver answered yes to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for city employees and a mask mandate for everyone in Johns Creek. Bradberry answered no to vaccination requirements and a mask mandate.

The mayoral candidates tried to cast each other in a negative light during a segment where they could ask each other questions.

Weaver asked Bradberry about his vote to approve a resignation settlement to the former police chief. A 2020 investigation found Byers violated the city and police department’s sexual harassment and conduct policies. He also caused controversy at that time after posting racial commentary on Facebook.

“The morale and tension at City Hall was palpable,” Bradberry said. “The morale of our police officers was low ... We had a choice to make and sometimes leaders have to make a choice that isn’t always what they want to do ...It was the least bad choice ...The real thing that was invaluable was that police department was able to heal, they were able to move on ...”

Bradberry’s question accused Weaver of campaigning as a Democrat and Republican at opportune events.

“I wouldn’t do anything like that,” Weaver said. “I knock on doors and tell everyone it’s a nonpartisan election. Pot holes are not Democrat, they’re not Republican. They just need to be fixed ... Serving as a police officer, I served ... for over 30 years. I served Republicans and Democrats.”

Student Leadership Johns Creek will host a debate for City Council candidates Sept. 30 at the Standard Club, 230 Abbotts Bridge Road.

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