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Q&A With Outgoing Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd--Part I

Floyd, mayor since 1998, fielded questions from Patch about why he decided to resign and how the city has changed.

Bill Floyd has been the public face of Decatur for years.

He's served as mayor since 1998 and has been a city commissioner since 1991. On Monday, Jan. 7, he officially leaves office to take a job with the Dunwoody-based Pendleton Consulting Group, where he'll work as a consultant with local governments. Floyd said he's resiging to avoid any conflict of interest.

(By the way, Floyd said he won't attend the city commission meeting on Monday, at which the commission will choose a new mayor from among their own members.)

On Thursday, Floyd sat down with Decatur/Avondale Estates Patch to field some questions. The second set of questions and answers will run Sunday. The answers have been edited for length.

Why now?

Well, I am 66 years old. I have been doing this for 21 years and if I am going to do anything else with my life other than what I have done, and by that I mean work, a way to make a living, now’s the time. I don’t need to wait any longer. I began to think about this six to eight months ago.

What about the business you already have (W.F. Floyd Construction)?

I closed it down, or am closing it down.

Do you plan any sort of a goodbye speech?

No. 

Why not? I think people would kind of like to hear something.

Twenty-one years is enough. It’s time for me to get out of the way. There are a lot of young folks, people who want to get involved, and I think the sooner we being the process of letting them get involved and in leadership positions, the better. … I’m ready to ease off into the sunset.

In 21 years, what changes have you seen in Decatur?

Big changes. The biggest changes we’ve had in Decatur is we have planned and made those plans community plans and plans everybody has participated in. … We have become a very urban community, and I think that’s the biggest change. …

There are significant advantages to living in an urban environment.  It’s not for everybody. I will tell you that even in Decatur we have people who want that single family house and the yard but there are a lot of people who like the urban lifestyle but in order to do that you have to give them a place to do that. You have to make it attractive to them.

As far as Decatur becoming a destination for entertainment and dining, was that part of the city’s plan?

Yes, I think it was. When you start to vision what you want your community to look like and you start to work toward that, I think the city itself made a commitment to spend its money, and by that I’m taking about taxpayer money, on things that create an environment in which small businesses thrive, and by that I mean restaurants and retail.

Now, the restaurants, they seem to be a little easier to get because to some extent they draw from further out than retail. That’s why restaurants happen first. … One of the benefits of having restaurants here is that people, once they live here, they don’t have to get in the car.

Why do so many other places resist density?

People see it as a four–letter word. … When you say density, people foresee more traffic, more cars, it’s harder to get anywhere they want to go in a car. Once they think that’s going to be the benefit of it, that’s what they resist. … You see that in any kind of development we do. When you see a condo or apartment developments come on, people want to see the traffic studies and all that.

We’ve become a place where people who live in those type places are people who don’t want to drive a car. Nobody is ready today to give up their car, least of all me, but we’re seeing more one-car families or no-car families than we’ve seen for a long time. People want a choice. They want the option of whether to get into a car or not get into a car. 

Read Part II of the interview with Bill Floyd.

Ralph Ellis January 05, 2013 at 12:47 PM
What has Bill Floyd meant to Decatur?

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