COVINGTON -- Ronnie Johnston is the first to announce that he is running for mayor of the city of Covington.
Johnston, 47, and his family moved to Covington about three and a half years ago. He fell in love with the city while driving back and forth to his family's lake house on Jackson Lake over the years, he said.
"We met more people in the first 30 days up here than 10 years in Alpharetta," he said.
Johnston was formerly chief operating officer of Nanston Inc., a company he started with his father and brothers and worked at for 25 years. Nanston operated a large group of dental offices serving the greater Atlanta area and employing more than 400 people.
Johnston said that experience taught him how to balance a budget and work with people.
The family sold the business in June, leaving Johnston with more time to get involved in the community. He intended to open a restaurant here, but said his heart wasn't in the new venture. After attending several City Council meetings, Johnston decided to run for office. He said he believes the position of mayor should be about "pulling people together."
"From my observations, it's almost like there are personal issues at times driving things. To me, that's not the job. The job is to represent the whole (community)," he said.
For example, Johnston said while the rails to trails project is a good idea, he doesn't believe now is the right time to pursue it.
"We have to be sensitive to the times we're in ... Everything needs to be put through a cost/benefit filter," he said.
Johnston said he is familiar with compromise, noting that not everyone agreed at all times during the running of the family business, but the good of the company had to be put before individual agendas. It's the same with the city, he said: "My job is to do what the constituents think is best."
Johnston calls himself a "compassionate conservative" and said he will continue to formulate his platform as he meets more voters during the campaign.
"I plan to really speak to every voter. They are all going to know my name. I want to hear from them, what their feelings and perceptions are. I believe that's where the agenda comes from," he said.
Johnston said he'd also like to hear from city employees about their frustrations, concerns and ideas.
"I don't profess to know all the answers to the problems, but I do think I'm smart enough to figure out the people who do have the answers," he said.
Johnston said he won't make promises he can't keep.
"I don't want to be unrealistic. I'm not going to say I can lower utilities. No, I can't. But can I help everybody understand where we are as a community with utilities and why we're there, yeah, I can," he said.
Johnston was born in DeKalb County. He attended college for three years and left to help with the family business. He currently does some consulting work for entrepreneurs. He is active at Covington First United Methodist Church, where he does mission work and serves on the Administrative Council.
He and his wife Kelley have been married for 25 years and have four children.
He asked that citizens contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at 770-262-1001. He can be found on Facebook at Ronnie Johnston for Mayor and Twitter at Johnston4Mayor.
Qualifying for nonpartisan municipal elections is Aug. 29 through Sept. 2. The election is Nov. 8.