District 2 County Commissioner Bob Ott is running unopposed for his second term of office. He serves Smyrna-Vinings and East Cobb where he lives with his wife and two children.
What are you most proud of from your first term as a Commissioner?
I think it’s getting the community involved. Examples of that we have three master plans that were developed over the course of the last three-and-a-half years. In each case we had about 100 people who got involved. So I would just say getting the community involved in planning out their future.
What are the most important issues facing Cobb in the future?
That would have to be the economy relative to providing services that we’re supposed to provide without raising taxes and just trying to get people back on their feet and trying to get businesses to survive. Then just trying to get the areas that have some vacant storefronts and stuff like that back—trying to get everything to recover.
I think just to try to continue what we’ve already started. Over here in the Powers Ferry area, the county did a master plan and there is some recovery happening. I think one of the things the county did was to look at some of our own rules and regulations to see if they were an impediment to development. The county found 214 pages of changes and those changes, I think, will help spur or make it easier for people to come in and redevelop the more rundown areas. Things like that, just make sure the county isn’t its own worst enemy.
You can’t do it by giving out money or asking for a handout because that just doesn’t work. I think the solution is to try to help incentivize or figure out ways to let business owners come in and make it happen. We might have to see if some of our fees are too high. Basically is to see if some of the things that the county has in place are what’s keeping it from happening.
What’s your position on TSPLOST?
I’m opposed. First off, I don’t think it’s the right time to be raising taxes. More importantly I think the project list is wrong. I think that it’s not solving the congestion problem like the law was originally intended. I think the mix of projects was not just the right thing because I think there are better ways to address the traffic problem.
With the governor’s announcement that there’s going to be managed lanes, in my opinion the Alternatives Analysis should be suspended until the managed lanes are put in place. Then I think you can come back and take a look to see what’s needed in the northwest corridor. The managed lanes come down 75 and 575 are clearly going to have an impact on traffic.
Now more and more it’s being admitted that the TSPLOST is about economic development and not traffic congestion. Well that’s not what the law is for. That’s not what the intent of the law is. It’s all wrong.
What’s something you weren’t able to accomplish in your first term that you’d like to accomplish in your next term?
First term there were five corridors that I had hoped to do master plans for. We got three done, so there are two left. So I’d like to keep moving forward on those. I think to continue to try to get some of the areas in the South Cobb area, the Smyrna area, Oakdale to be refreshed and rejuvenated—back on their feet.