Ward 1 candidates talk qualifications, growth
by Michelle Babcock
October 31, 2013 12:20 PM | 1706 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Meet the Candidate: 
John Szczesniak
Age: 32
Occupation: Sales and brand manager for Moe’s Southwest Grill
Website: www.votejohnforwoodstock.com
Meet the Candidate: John Szczesniak Age: 32 Occupation: Sales and brand manager for Moe’s Southwest Grill Website: www.votejohnforwoodstock.com
Meet the Candidate: 
Warren Johnson
Age: 40
Occupation: Project manager for ARCADIS U.S. Inc.
Website: www.electwarrenjohnson.com
Meet the Candidate: Warren Johnson Age: 40 Occupation: Project manager for ARCADIS U.S. Inc. Website: www.electwarrenjohnson.com
WOODSTOCK — Ward 1 Woodstock City Council candidates John Szczesniak and Warren Johnson have different experience and different opinions on growth in the city, but both hope for a better community.

The two candidates are running for the seat being vacated by City Councilman Randy Brewer.

Szczesniak said it is crucial for a city council member to have experience with the government they are going to serve, and explained his many years of experience in government positions.

“I served my homeowner’s association as president for six years,” Szczesniak said. “At the same time I served on the planning commission for seven years, as both the chair of the planning committee and the co-chair. I’ve been involved with the Greenprints Alliance … I’ve been on the downtown development master planning.”

Johnson said he would bring real-world experience to the city council.

“I am not a politician. I am a citizen who wants the best for my community,” Johnson said. “I have served my church for many years as a nursery volunteer, I have served the Cub Scouts as committee chairman for Pack 994 and served in the Girl Scout community. I have also served as vice president on the board of my homeowner’s association and helped with local and state level campaigns.”

Szczesniak said many of his government roles involved gathering input from residents, especially through public forums.

“The Outlet Mall was one of the biggest ones. Working with our senators to get the interchange, working with the mayor and council for support, working in our neighborhood to get signatures, this whole project has been seven years-worth of hard work to get us there,” Szczesniak said.

Johnson said he would have liked to see different architecture at the outlet mall.

“With the construction of The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, I would like to have seen it built with similar architectural design as our downtown, which would have made the outlet mall a part of an expanding downtown and set a standard for future development beyond the intersection of Towne Lake Parkway and Main Street,” Johnson said. “I support growth that provides for a high quality of life for the citizens.”

The city has experienced rapid growth over the past several years, and Szczesniak and Johnson have different ideas for what’s best for Woodstock’s future.

Szczesniak said that growth needs to continue in Woodstock, because “that’s what’s bringing us out of the recession.” Szczesniak pointed out projects that the city is already working on, like the street grids and shuttles for downtown residents, and said that those can’t happen without continued growth.

“(Growth) is providing better opportunities for employment and advancing employment, and increasing our tax base,” Szczesniak said. “It provides a tax base with which we can provide better services. We can’t complete the projects that we have planned for our land use plan, if growth doesn’t continue.”

Johnson said with the growth have come “issues such as traffic congestion and a lack of parking.”

“It is important for Woodstock to continue to grow, but it needs to be done in a way that provides for a high quality of living for the citizens of Woodstock,” Johnson said. “In order to prevent additional issues, we need to be using the energy from downtown to expand the footprint.”

Szczesniak said his experience working with staff and with the city helped him to understand what it takes to get things done, and why things were done the way they were done.

“It’s understanding those facts and being able to go address those situations that gives me the experience to know what I need to do,” Szczesniak said. “Being a civil servant, being involved in your community, is not just being involved on a political level. You can’t show up every four years for an election and expect to understand the ‘why’s’ and the ‘what’s’ that go on in a neighborhood. You have to be involved on a day-to-day basis.”

He gave the example of traffic signals at the Ridgewalk Parkway interchange on Interstate 575.

“The DOT would not allow us to put signals out at the interchange because they didn’t feel that the traffic was going to warrant that right off the get-go, but we complained as the HOA for the DOT to do a traffic count,” Szczesniak said. “They weren’t slated to put those traffic lights until next year, so we finally got them to do a traffic count, and they agreed that the signal was warranted. So they finally put them in.”

Johnson said that his real-world experience would allow him to best serve the residents of Woodstock.

“As a project manager, I manage over 100 projects, which include staff, budgets, timelines, and working with the client to make sure my project stays on time and on budget. Just as I am responsible to my company and my client for a quality project delivered on budget, I will be accountable to the citizens to ensure their tax dollars are utilized in a responsible way to deliver high quality services,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that he will bring his “conservative, common sense leadership to serve the citizens of Woodstock.”
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