Powder Springs Councilman Seeking 4th Term
Tom Bevirt first became interested in running for office when he and others fought the construction of the Norfolk Southern rail yard in Austell in the 1990s.
Though he had been on a couple city committees prior to 1996, Tom Bevirt really began to take an interest in the workings of Powder Springs’ government that year.
It was then he and other citizens began to rally against the Norfolk Southern rail yard in Austell because of the resulting train traffic through Powder Springs.
The city gave meeting space and in-kind donations to those fighting the rail yard, Bevirt said. The City Council offered $10,000 to Austell in its defense of lawsuits filed by Norfolk Southern attempting to force the development’s permits.
Even Bevirt and Richard Sailors, the mayor of Powder Springs at the time, flew to Washington D.C. on their own dollar to appear before a congressional committee concerning the topic, organized by former U.S. House Rep. Bob Barr.
“I thought, ‘Well, here’s a city that the people have got some spine,’ and I like that,” Bevirt said.
So when some seats on the City Council opened up for the 1999 elections, he decided to run. “I thought, ‘I want to be a part of a community that the city leaders take some initiative.'"
He took office as an at-large councilmember in January 2000 and won re-election in 2003 and again in 2007. And now, Bevirt, 67, is planning to run for his fourth four-year term in the November elections.
Besides Mayor Pat Vaughn, who first became a councilwoman in 1996, Bevirt has been a part of the city's legislative body—a mayor and five council members—the longest.
Bevirt, a retired exterminator, moved to the city in 1980 from southern Illinois. He is single but cares for his two cats and also supports the Humane Society. He’s a member of the Seven Springs Historical Society, the Powder Springs Senior Center, and St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Mableton.
He enjoys reading about history and target shooting.
Sitting on a bench beside the fountain in the town square, he looks up and points to one of the recent projects he’s proud of as a councilman. The council supported Hiram High student Brent Crawford, who recently finished fixing and remodeling the fountain.
Bevirt takes pride in the city’s noise ordinance. “We’ve got one of the best noise ordinances in the country,” he said, adding that Marietta used it as an example.
He also pointed to the city’s ordinance regarding signage along roadways that's meant to keep the streets from looking cluttered and unappealing.
“One thing you won’t see when you go around town: We don’t allow commercial signs to be placed on the right-of-ways,” he said.
“I’m a believer in making lemonade out of lemons and turning problems into opportunities,” he said. "And sometimes that’s not popular, but we’ve gotta do it.”
Three Powder Springs positions are up for election Nov. 8: mayor and the two at-large council seats. The full field of candidates won't be known until qualifying in late August.