Lawrenceville City Councilman David Still’s bid to become the next mayor
An easy-going humor and humility are the first things one notices about the fourth-generation Lawrenceville native who has announced his bid to be the city’s next mayor. At 58, current City Councilman David Still has deep roots in the county. His love for Lawrenceville is front and center as he recalls with fondness the close-knit community he experienced growing up in Gwinnett.
“I’ve always been interested in community,” he says. His role as a councilman is one that was unexpected but one he has cherished. “Honestly, being on the City Council is a servant position. I’m not a politician. I don’t have any angles.” All the same, Still has a clear vision for renewed community in the city he calls home. In the Lawrenceville Still envisions for tomorrow, there’s more walking and less driving. More residential homes in the community. Housing for all socioeconomic levels. Schools and a community that values the fine arts. Still wants to improve quality of life for residents and business owners, work toward better graduation rates and protect taxpayer investments.
“Continuity is important,” he says. “In consulting with others and through a lot of prayer, I made the decision to run.” If elected, rebuilding community will be a top priority. “When people say they live in Lawrenceville, I want it to mean something.”
Still has worked with the Downtown Development Authority since 2012, before being encouraged to run for City Council. He’s past president of the Kiwanis Club and Georgia Association of Business Brokers and serves on the board of the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia. He’s a founding member of Impact46, a nonprofit founded for positive impact in the 30046 zip code.
Six years ago, after reading Toxic Charity by Atlanta social activist Robert Lupton, Still was inspired to move to the heart of the Lawrenceville.
“If you want to help a community, you have to move into it,” he says. Still takes great pride in the city’s recent redevelopment efforts, to include the South Lawn and City View, with its residential cottages, detached homes, live-work-play units and townhomes mixed with commercial properties. “By creating a strong hub downtown, we help surrounding property values and build up HOAs. We build community.”
Still’s high school Key Club sponsor, Marion Brantley or “Mr. B” at Central Gwinnett, was an early influence. “He instilled in me the desire to serve and give back.” His senior year in high school, Still traveled 10 thousand miles, criss-crossing the country and learning about community. He got his first speeding ticket on that trip.
As a student at UGA, Still studied journalism but graduated with a degree in business before going to work at the Home Weekly with his father, Gwinnett newspaper publisher Bruce Still. The two would later become partners in the newspaper business, helping to develop what is now the Gwinnett Daily Post. He treasures memories of the two going to breakfast early in the morning at a diner in Monroe while the paper was printed at nearby Walton Press. A love for family and community were instilled in him from childhood. “Every day we’d drive into work and Dad would say, ‘It’s another day to serve your community.’”
In 1994 the two sold the business and the younger Still went into the mergers and acquisitions business. Still’s father, whose life and work was entwined in the community, recently passed away. David Still recalls a day the two spent together last year at SlowPour. “He wanted to see what they had done with the building. Across the street was the location of the Gwinnett Daily News, the daily paper he left in 1969 to start his own weekly paper. That day was special.”
Since 1995, he has worked from his Capital Endeavors office, just across from Strange Taco on the Lawrenceville Square in a two-story building he and his wife, Vicki, a speech pathologist with Gwinnett County Public Schools, renovated together in 2005. Still’s current office used to be the City Hall where his grandfather worked on behalf of the city. It was also the old jail, which now welcomes guests for ghost tours hosted by the Aurora Theatre.
Change is on the horizon at both the city and council level. County Chairman Charlotte Nash will not seek reelection, but Still says he’s confident that county leaders will remain focused on the people. Still knows both candidates currently running for City Council and wishes both the very best. His focus is less on politics than people.
Still’s attention is fixed on opportunity and he is determined to meet they city’s challenges, such as homelessness and traffic issues, head on. He’s proud to have been involved with the city’s decision to earmark $5 million to combat homelessness. He so wants to help the city do a better job informing the community on rules and regulations “so we can be good neighbors in both the business and residential communities.”
What will be the best part of serving as mayor? “The best part will be to continue to play my role as a consensus builder,” he says. Qualifying is in August with the mayoral election to follow this November. One thing’s for certain, David Still will be working on behalf of the people of Lawrenceville, living and working in the heart of Gwinnett.
Sound Bites from David Still
Best advice ever received:
“First, listen! God gave us two ears and one mouth. Second, ‘You can get a lot accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit,’ as Harry S. Truman put it.”
Learning from the people you work with:
“It’s all about relationships. We all want to be together with other people, to get to know each other and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Most fulfilling activities:
“Spending time with family at the beach. Watching a community get healthy in a variety of ways lights me up. Helping to develop transparency in local government. Working to re-energize the city’s neighborhoods.”
The one thing that tells you it has been a great day:
“That there’s consensus in the path.” Still notes that in the public service arena, there’s a lot of background studying and meeting required. “What I’m good at is trying to think out of the box to solve problems and to ask whatever questions need to be asked,” says Still. “I enjoy building consensus.”
On the bucket list:
“I’ve always wanted to jump out of a plane. But really I’m pretty simple. Family and friends matter most—that’s the true legacy.” Still and his wife will soon take a bucket list trip to the Holy Land. He enjoys family vacations to the beach with his two grown children, Carter and Courtney, their spouses and two grandchildren.