East Point’s council meetings are a roller coaster on top of a rocket ship on top of a volcano. Alexander Gothard has been a head-down, studious council member, but even he has earned the ire of mayors in those meetings. All I will say is: listen to the whole interview.
Q: I get the impression from your council meetings that Mayor Jannquell Peters gets impatient with you all because she wants to do things quickly. Is that why there is so much tension?
A: I wouldn’t say that. I would say just a difference of opinion on issues–that’s what made [things] divisive. The mayor wanted to get it done and the council members wanted to say, “wait, let’s look at this. Let’s make sure it’s as efficient as possible.” The mayor didn’t like that. We definitely respect each other and we have a good time.
Q: Well, it appears that the council members get along fine, but collectively, you don’t like the mayor. So it’s teams of 8 v. 1. Am I wrong here?
A: That’s interesting you should see it that way as an observer. The mayor is strong-willed. I do think that the city has a better image since she has been mayor. Yes, she tries to run an efficient meeting. But council members aren’t always going to agree with the way she runs it. In terms of the animosity, I don’t think it’s anything personal. I think it’s healthy to have disagreements.
Q: If you think it’s healthy to disagree, you’ll REALLY like what we’re going to talk about next, which is Earnestine Pittman, your former mayor. I saw something that blew my mind: on August 5, 2013, you were in your second year on the city council. About two hours in, you made a motion. The mayor immediately went on a rant about how it was a terrible idea. When you tried to argue, she threw you out of the meeting. What did you do after you left the chamber?
A: I honestly went to get a drink. I remember that very well. It was surrounding Center Park repair. There was no way that I was going to sit there and just let that item be skipped over. It was unfortunate, it really was.
Q: Do you wish the other council members had come to your defense?
A: No, they didn’t have to. When I was removed, I thought she was totally wrong. But being about the people–because that happened, the Center Park residents the very next meeting, I think eight residents came out to speak on behalf of that park. So despite me being kicked out, it was beneficial to the cause I was advocating for.
Q: Did Mayor Pittman ever apologize to you?
A: No. I told her how upset I was. She didn’t apologize and I didn’t expect her to.
Q: Did she at least understand your side of things?
Q: Mmm. If there’s one thing you could change about your council meetings, what would that be?
A: I’ll tell you something interesting: the new city of South Fulton, for anything to go on the agenda, the mayor has to approve it. I’m glad we do not have that in East Point.
Q: So you wouldn’t do anything that gives the mayor more control?
A: I would not.
Follow Council Member Alexander Gothard on Twitter: @CouncilmanAG