Voters in Flowery Branch will find four candidates on their ballots on election day Tuesday for the Post 2 seat on the City Council.
AccessWDUN was recently able to speak with several of the candidates to get their takes on why they are the best person for the job. Early voting is underway now at Flowery Branch City Hall, with election day set for Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The following list is organized alphabetically by last name:
Kyle Gomez–Leineweber (Full interview)
Gomez-Leineweber grew up in Rabun County with his mother and grandmother. He later moved to Hall County as a student at Brenau University and has lived in Flowery Branch for the past several years.
"I've been working with local governments, state legislators, nonprofit organizations, focusing on policy research and doing constituent services and things like that," Gomez-Leineweber said on WDUN's The Drive at Five.
Gomez-Leineweber said he has always been interested in public service since his career is in that field. However, he said he decided to run for the Flowery Branch City Council after realizing that all of the current council members reside in the same neighborhood.
"There's nothing wrong with that neighborhood ... but we're lacking full representation," Gomez-Leineweber said. "Plus my experience in local government working with different elected officials and things like that, I'm prepared to tackle some of these issues that we're seeing with growth."
Gomez-Leineweber said he loved the way the downtown Flowery Branch area has developed but would like to see better business retention.
"We kind of have a revolving door of businesses going through that area," Gomez-Leineweber said. "So what I think that we can do is do a better job of attracting small, local, family-owned businesses and connecting them to the resources they need to maintain their business and be successful so that they can stay in that area."
More information about Gomez-Leineweber is available on his website.
Christian Daniele Mays
Mays is a Hall County native and a small business owner in the City of Flowery Branch.
Her website said she is committed to inclusive governance and aims to represent every voice while addressing issues facing the city.
She has served on the board of the United Way of Hall County, worked at the Hall County Clerk's Office and The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"Christian’s experiences have given her an in-depth familiarity with the inner workings of the executive processes and first-hand understanding of budget, tax, and fiscal policies," Mays' website states. "With her extensive background, Christian is equipped to make informed, thoughtful decisions that benefit the city and its residents."
Mays graduated from Gainesville High School and Georgia State University. She is a member of Change Church in Duluth.
"As a member of the Flowery Branch community, she is passionate about ensuring that the citizens of Flowery Branch from children to senior citizens remain the top priority as the city continues to expand," Mays' website said. "It is her promise to guarantee that Flowery Branch implements policies and programs that can leave a positive legacy that will continue to shape Flowery Branch into a great place to work, play and nurture families."
Joe Mezzanotte (I) (Full interview)
Mezzanotte is the current Post 2 representative on the Flowery Branch City Council, having first been elected in March 2022 in a special election.
"I ran with a goal of keeping Flowery Branch the place we love to live and making developers do what they said they were going to do," Mezzanotte said. "I also believe that growth should not negatively impact the quality of life of the existing residents, and new residents also deserve a home where they can live, play, shop, stay and possibly work with an improved quality of life."
Mezzanotte said he believes the city council has had a number of successes during his year and a half of service.
"I believe we're making progress, and I'm ready to use what I've learned in that year and a half to continue to improve Flowery Branch," Mezzanotte said.
Mezzanotte grew up in Wisconsin, went to college in New Jersey and spent his career in manufacturing operations. He has lived in Georgia for 37 years and in Flowery Branch for the past five years.
"When I look at running an operation I always think safety first, and I think keeping our residents, public works employees, wastewater employees and our police safe is one of the most important things and I believe we've been doing that, looking at new equipment and safety programs," Mezzanotte said.
Additionally, Mezzanotte said the city should continue to support current and new businesses.
Charles Vanderbilt (Full interview)
Vanderbilt grew up in the Middle East, primarily in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria. He has served as a cardiac researcher at Emory University for the past three years. He said he has lived in Flowery Branch with his wife for the past three years.
This is Vanderbilt's first time running for public office, but he said he believes his skills in the healthcare industry are transferrable to local government.
"Throughout my career, I interacted with my patients, my clients, my administration, leadership ... and it's all about listening to others," Vanderbilt said. "I would like to transfer those skills to my community, and listen to what my community has to say, what their concerns in living in the city are and what are things you would like to see further betterment for the city?"
Vanderbilt said he is concerned about healthcare access for the elderly population in Flowery Branch.
"I would like to bring them really easy access to healthcare ... especially geriatric care, so they don't have to travel further away to Atlanta or a different city just to receive basic treatment," Vanderbilt said.
Additionally, Vanderbilt said he would like to get in touch with entrepreneurs and investors and bring them to Flowery Branch.