Deep Ties to the Tucker Community
I have lived in my home in Tucker since 1997 - nearly half my life and longer than anywhere else. In 2019, after my mom passed away, I laid her to rest in Floral Hills Memory Gardens Cemetery on Lawrenceville Highway less than five minutes from my home. Finally, in 2020, through hard work, I was able to pay off my home's mortgage nearly six years early. I care about Tucker because I have deep ties to our community. This place is more than my city. It is my home.
Service to the Tucker Community
During 2005 and 2006, I was a member of the Tucker Civic Association study committee examining ways to improve Tucker. We studied incorporating to become a city, Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), Tax Allocation Districts (TADs), code enforcement, zoning, overlay districts, and financial grants. And, following the controversial 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, where the Court held that government transferring property from one private individual to another for economic development was a proper use of eminent domain, we examined this holding's implications. I co-authored the portion of our report on incorporation to become a city and wrote the cautionary part concerning eminent domain. At the conclusion of our project, we held a presentation at St. Mark's Lutheran Church on Brockett Road to give the results to the Tucker community .
Throughout the fight for cityhood, I again offered my services. During Tucker 2014's effort to convince the General Assembly to pass legislation for a cityhood referendum, I attended and spoke at House committee meetings in the 2014 legislative session encouraging our legislators to adopt the Tucker 2014 map and give us our referendum. When the General Assembly deferred its decision to 2015 and the cityhood effort became Tucker 2015, I went to the State Capital during the 2015 legislative session to lobby State Senators, I emailed, called and wrote State House Representatives and State Senators and I reached out to former classmates serving in the General Assembly, such as former State Senator David Shaffer, for a cityhood referendum for Tucker.
Finally, from 2014 through 2016, I spoke to my neighbors and proudly displayed my original Tucker 2014 yard sign encouraging them to vote for Tucker Cityhood. Having lived in Tucker for years, having studied the various ways we could improve our community and having engaged with others living in Tucker, it was clear the best path to improve our community was to create our City of Tucker.
I have been an attorney for 29 years. I practice litigation, employment law, government contracting and state and local taxation for Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine, P.C. I clerked at this law firm in 1991 as a rising third year law student. I returned upon graduation as an associate in 1992. After a few years, I left in 1995 to practice at Drew, Eckl & Farnham, P.C. to focus entirely on workers' compensation defense. In 1997, I opened my solo law practice to represent individuals in employment law, workers' compensation, and personal injury.
In March 2015, I closed my law practice to care for my mother when she was wrongly diagnosed as terminal for a heart condition. We spent over thirty days at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in four trips during a five month period so she could receive life saving treatment. The Mayo Clinic is truly an amazing place.
After my first campaign for Tucker City Council concluded in 2016, I started to slowly rebuild my law practice. However, during October 2016, my former mentor, Jim Wimberly recruited me to return back to Wimberly Lawson. I have been so blessed to return to the firm where my career started. I have known the equity partners and other lawyers at this firm most of my life. As my mother's health declined in 2019, they gave me a lot of leeway in caring for her and during her three hospitalizations. When my mom passed away just two days before Thanksgiving 2019, the partners and the firm were so supportive. It is no exaggeration to say the partners, attorneys and staff at Wimberly Lawson are like family. I have learned so much about life from them.
The work I perform as an attorney has uniquely prepared me to be on our city council. As a lawyer, I know how to draft ordinances that are clear and constitutional. Indeed, this year I worked extensively with Broward County, Florida to get them to amend their Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Service (NEMTS) ordinance so it would not be more burdensome than required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Moreover, with my government contracting work, I assist government contractors in bid protests when the government has not followed its Request for Proposal ("RFP") and I intervene on behalf of successful contractors when others protest contracts awarded to them. Although Federal Law does not apply to the City of Tucker, my knowledge of the Competition in Contracting Act ("CICA") gives me the experience necessary to properly consider offers made by contractors bidding to provide the city with services. I have also represented businesses before the Georgia Department of Revenue on state and local tax matters and regulatory matters. Moreover, I have worked on zoning matters with the City of Brookhaven and successfully represented another client in an eminent domain matter brought against them by Gwinnett County. Finally, my years of employment law is important because the City of Tucker is an employer.
In addition to my work as a lawyer, I have sat as an Administrative Law Judge for the Gwinnett County Department of Health on matters relating to restaurants health ratings and I sit as a Pro Hac Judge for the City of Clarkston Municipal Court.
For years, I have been giving back to the broader community. Training the next generation of lawyers to treat others as professionals is important to me. Since 1997, I have returned to the University of Georgia School of Law almost every fall to lead break-out sessions on Professionalism to first year law students during orientation. Moreover, passing on my experience to those training to become lawyers means a lot to me as well. As such, I have been in the mentor-mentee program at the University of Georgia Law School. I was even able to help one mentee obtain his first job as a lawyer with a classmate of mine.
Everyone deserves good representation despite their ability to pay. When I first became an attorney, I donated my legal services in 1992 and 1993 to the 1000 Lawyer's For Justice project which provided free lawyers to indigent felony defendants while Fulton County restructured its public defender office. After that program ended, I accepted court appointed misdemeanor cases from the Fulton County State Court jail calendar and the City of Atlanta Traffic Court (now the City of Atlanta Municipal Court). During the great recession, I represented countless employees before the Georgia Department of Labor at much reduced fees and no charge. Helping those who have so very little reminds me how blessed I have been when I do not appreciate what I have as I should.
Finally, I have been involved in greyhound rescue since 1996. I adopted my first greyhound, Lady, in 1996 and she lived 17 years and 5 months. My second adopted greyhound, Arrow, was my foster fail in 1999. He lived 14 years. I adopted my current greyhound Galaxie in 2013 when he was retired from racing in Jacksonville, Florida. His breeder named him after the Ford Galaxie - he and his siblings were all named after classic Fords in the U.S. and U.K. Galaxie is now 12. I have also saved a few other dogs from animal shelters over the past thirty years.
I attended college at the University of Georgia to play trumpet in the UGA Redcoat Marching Band. During my time at UGA, I also played trumpet in the UGA Concert Band, the UGA Jazz Band II and the UGA Derbies. These experiences emphasized the value of teamwork to me; band is a collaborative art. I graduated early in March 1989 with an A.B., cum laude, in History having made Dean's list 9 of 11 quarters, and having been elected to the Honorary Societies of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key and Phi Eta Sigma.
I returned to the University of Georgia to attend law school in pursuit of my dream of becoming an attorney. I graduated in May 1992 with my J.D., cum laude.
I am grateful for the professors who taught me, the friends I made and the experiences I had during my years at the University of Georgia. My professors helped me develop critical thinking skills to analyze information and make make good decisions. My friends taught me how to care for others and they are my friends today. Finally, my experiences gave me confidence and optimism that people can accomplish great things and make life better when they set their minds to it.