First South Fulton Mayoral Meet and Greet Showcases Small Businesses

City of South Fulton mayoral candidate Rafer Johnson shares his vision for the new city at SpringBox Kitchen on Jan. 5 (Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/Vote4Rafer)

Mayoral candidate Rafer Johnson kicked off the New Year with a meet and greet with City of South Fulton residents on Jan. 5. Johnson, who’s lived in the area since 2001, is an advocate of safe and healthy communities and strong economic development. Currently a Delta flight attendant, he cited the area’s proximity to the airport as an opportunity to cater to national and international business leaders, many of whom now deplane and then drive as far as North Fulton to conduct business.

Johnson referenced his role in helping to dramatically improve Delta’s customer satisfaction rating and his desire to ensure that the new city makes customer service a priority, dispelling the myth that working with government entities equals poor service. He also hopes to build up the city’s reserves, promote wise spending and safeguard the city’s credit rating.

“We don’t need the Taj Mahal for city headquarters,” he said. “We need a space to operate efficiently in.”

Johnson stressed that he would do everything in his power to not raise taxes. Among some of his goals are creating a marketing package to help brand the new city to attract opportunities and dollars, exploring the concept of micro-precincts to achieve better response times and collaborating with the six surrounding cities. In the long term, he also discussed exploring development of the new city’s riverfront, a gem that many don’t know about.

In the immediate future, Johnson said that he would recommend hiring an interim city manager to give newly elected officials time to perform a wide search for the best person for the position. He also stated that he would like for the City of South Fulton to adopt a new name within the first 100 days following incorporation.

In addition to discussions about his future plans for the new city, also on the evening’s menu were light refreshments and an introduction to two of City of South Fulton’s small business owners. The event was held at SpringBox Kitchen (SBK), owned by Willie Box, a celebrity chef who some may recognize from his win on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Box served residents appetizers and wine, and shared information about his background and approach. Johnson encouraged residents in attendance to support the newly opened restaurant, which aims to give local diners access to a progressive and innovative menu right in their own backyards.

Chef Kimberly “Kimihou” Bryant, owner of Adonai Desserts Atlanta was also introduced to residents. The South Fulton home-based business owner who specializes in custom event cakes and baking classes brought cupcakes and discussed her passion for baking and for helping others learn to master the craft.

Box and Bryant are examples of Johnson’s diligence in establishing relationships and partnerships and his commitment to collaboration throughout the new city and in surrounding areas. He shared that he’d met with Aerotropolis Atlanta, attended John Eaves’ task force meeting on crime and met with the Cascade Business Association about providing more scholarships to local students and facilitating enrichment opportunities for those that may not be college bound. He is also planning a town hall meeting with several noteworthy South Fulton residents, including Captain Brianna Skinner, a doctor of veterinary medicine who works in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC.

During the event, Dr. Skinner shared that while she had not received adequate support from teachers and administrators as a young student, a member of her community asked her about her ambitions and would later give her the opportunity to meet a neurosurgeon at a local church. The experience helped to solidify her dreams and empowered her to pursue her career in science.

While the mayor and city council will not have jurisdiction over local schools, Johnson discussed the importance of finding ways to engage and encourage youth. He noted that the community has an existing Police Athletic League that is not being supported and that there is Little League equipment that is not being utilized.

He also discussed engaging youth beyond sports and shared information about a Delta program providing matching grants for local nonprofits supporting education.

While he presented a number of ideas throughout the night, Johnson admitted that he didn’t have all of the answers. He stated that he would be relying on experts in the community to help cast the vision for the new city. He also said that while the position as mayor offered part-time pay, he recognized that it would not be a part-time job.

The meet and greet offered residents an opportunity to mingle not only with Johnson, but also with several city council candidates, including Tracey Rolle, Willie Davis and Darris Rollins.

Johnson will hold a second meet and greet on Jan. 14 at another new City of South Fulton business, Twistt Coffee Café from 10:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. The event falls on the heels of the end of the qualifying period and there are now numerous events on the calendar to meet both mayoral and city council candidates.

Also hosting events on Jan. 14 are mayoral candidate Benny Crane and city council candidate Kenneth F. Joe, Sr.

For more information and developments related to the City of South Fulton, visit www.facebook.com/cosfobserver or follow along on Twitter @COSFObserver.