Lawrenceville Patch will feature questions and answers from each of the four candidates running for City Council Post 4 this week. Their answers may have been edited only for formatting reasons.
Name: Keith Roche
How long have you lived in Lawrenceville? In what part(s) of town?: My wife and I have lived in Cramac Plantations since 1995.
What is your occupation?: I’m retired from PPG Industries which is a fortune 200 company. I ran a multi-million dollar business for them here in Georgia. I retired at the end of 2008 after 41 years in the coatings business.
What is your educational background?: I have a degree in Business Administration
Tell us about your family: My wife Beverly is a retired executive recruiter. She began her career in education and ran several proprietary colleges. She presently is the Community Relations Director for Cornerstone Private Client Group, a wealth management company.
Our daughter, Christina, is married and lives in Atlanta. She is a graduate of Valdosta State University. Her background is broadcast radio. She has been on the air in Valdosta, Atlanta and Ashville, N.C.
Have you ever held or ran for any other elected office? If so what and when?: No.
How have you been involved in Lawrenceville politics and the community?: After retiring I was elected to the Engage Gwinnett Citizens Committee in 2009. The committee was charged with looking for cost saving measures for the county, which was falling short on revenues due to the recession. The committee met for approximately nine months. I wrote one of five dissenting opinions against the final report. I felt we weren’t aggressive enough with our recommendations and I was opposed to a proposed tax increase in the final report.
I went through the Gwinnett Senior Leadership program and I have stayed active in the program ever since. Senior Leadership somewhat mirrors Leadership Gwinnett, but is for citizens who are 50 years of age or older.
For the past couple of years I have been on the Lawrenceville Planning & Zoning Commission. I became concerned about many of the applications that were coming before us. These were businesses that I felt would impair the city’s ability to grow and become an attractive city in which to "live, work and play." My experience on Planning & Zone led me to run for City Council.
What inspired you to run for city council?: My wife and I both like living in Lawrenceville. I have become concerned however about the image that Lawrenceville has when coming in on the major entry corridors. These corridors are our primary chance for a "first impression." The image needs to be improved. I’m convinced that we missed a lot of the tremendous growth that other cities in the county enjoyed because we didn’t have a clear vision of what we wanted Lawrenceville to become. On City Council, I hope to move the city toward the goals laid out in the 2030 Master Plan.
What do you think is the most pressing issue Lawrenceville faces and needs to address?: As much as I would like to say that the most pressing issue we have to face is something we, as a city, have complete control over, I can’t. Very simply, it’s our schools. Whether it’s real, or perceived (and perception IS reality), our schools impact our ability to make Lawrenceville all that it can be. They affect our property values; they affect our ability to attract new residents which affects our ability to attract high end businesses.
We have an opportunity to correct this problem, but the City Council (and the citizens of Lawrenceville) must be aggressive and focused with regards to the problem. We may not have complete control of the issue, but we do have influence.
What are your long-term goals for the city?:
1. Entry Corridors that have nice restaurants, shopping and office buildings. That say “Welcome to Lawrenceville. A great place to live, work and play”.
2. Neighborhoods, especially the older ones, that are well maintained; streets are paved, drainage issues are solved, there are curbs and gutters, and the neighborhoods are well lit (people can exercise before sun up, or after sun down and not worry about being run over because they aren’t seen).
3. We need to create an image that will attract young professionals, the doctors and medical professionals at the hospital and the instructors and professors at the college and we need to have appropriate housing for them.
4. We can’t build another Forest Hills, Hannary Estates or Cramac, we don’t have the land. However, off of Simonton Rd. are two developments; Chatam Woods and Three Oaks. These are two developments with large lots and beautiful homes. There’s probably not 25 homes in either development. These two neighbors are assets to Lawrenceville and can easily be duplicated all around town.
5. We need to have more condos and townhouses all around downtown Lawrenceville.
6. Suwanee is on the “Top 10 Lists” of three national publications; Kiplinger, Money Magazine and Family Circle. It’s rated as one of the top ten places to list in the U.S. Lawrenceville needs to become the crown jewel of Gwinnett County.
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