Five Years of the City of South Fulton

Spotlight on 3 of COSF City Council Members

Article by Complied by Erikka Searles Mitchell

Photography by Aric Thompson

Originally published in SOFU Lifestyle

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the founding of the City of South Fulton, #SoFu Lifestyle caught up with the of the members of the city council. If you don't see your representative, look for a profile on her or him in a future issue. SFL will ask them the same questions. 

Councilwoman Dr. Catherine Rowell- District 1

Rowell hails from Cleveland, Ohio and moved here in January 1992 to attend Clark Atlanta University (CAU).  She is a proud double alum of CAU, where she received her Masters in Public Administration Urban/City Management and her doctorate in Political Science.  

What do you love about #SoFu?” I love the beauty of our city.  You can experience urban, suburban and rural living all within a 30-minute drive through our city.”

What is the biggest accomplishment in the last 5 years? The City of South Fulton has experienced many successes over the last five years, primarily chartering the roadmap for where we want to go.  We have updated our Comprehensive Development Plan, developed an Economic Development Strategic Plan, developed a Park Master Plan and are currently developing a Public Art Master Plan.  As it relates to District 1, I am most proud of the economic development projects that have come to the area.  We now have a Publix, locally-owned businesses operating at Sandtown Center, new senior housing, the Campbellton Nature Preserve and two mixed-use development projects that will bring more retail and dining options to our area.

Councilwoman Carmalitha Gumbs- District 2

Gumbs was born in Brooklyn, New York but grew up in Virginia.  She relocated to #SoFu 16 years ago from Richmond, Virginia for a job transfer. She is the middle child and a graduate of Norfolk State University.  

What do you love about SoFu? SoFu has something for everybody.  It is a busy little town nestled away from city living.  I love that it's a small town with a lot of Black Excellence.  

What is your biggest accomplishment in the last 5 years? “My biggest accomplishment is having a part in shaping the history of #SoFu.  Being able to really invest in the growth of this city and community, and make a lasting impact is the icing on the cake for me.”  

What are you looking forward to in SoFu’s future?  The city is on the rise.  There is so much to look forward to, especially having a clean canvass to work from.  Our future is ripe for quality economic development and quality housing.  It will definitely be a place where families will be excited to call #SoFu home!  I can't wait.  

Councilwoman Helen Zenobia Willis- District 3

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Willis attended historic black high school A. E. Beach, and finished Savannah State University with a B.A. in Accounting. “My upbringing was structured and a middle-class family full of educators and public servants.”  She has lived in #SoFu since 2002 and married #SoFu native Vincent Willis Sr. in 2007, She has a blended family of four kids and seven grandchildren. She moved to Atlanta to work under the leadership of former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond as an Unemployment Insurance Tax Auditor. All her work experience has been working as a Payroll Tax Accountant and Tax Incentives.

“I love SoFu because it reminds me of my hometown in a sense; It's historical, full of legacy residents, opportunities, and an enormous faith-based community. I grew up serving in my community and making a difference. I worked with five different organizations to help bring this city to fruition. This city was birthed out by residents who wanted to be governed and controlled by people who lived in their communities with a vested interest. “

A proud moment for Willis was being elected out of a field of ten men vying to be a part of history. Serving as an inaugural member of the City of South Fulton city council was quite an accomplishment! “Never in a million years would I have imagined growing up in Savannah, Georgia, and volunteering in the community would give me the skills to help establish a city and become an elected official.”

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the last five years? I have many accomplishments since serving in the role since 2017. I don't back down from any challenge presented to me, and I have faced many. When I took office, our local fire station was closed and needed renovation, and there was a blighted apartment complex located across the street. I advocated and made the renovation a priority of the fire station in our city's budget. The fire station is renovated and in full operation, and the blighted apartment complex is now a workforce housing community and renovated. Additionally, the City of South Fulton now has a city-wide "Feeding the City Initiative" to address food insecurity.

What are you looking forward to in #SoFu's future? I'm looking forward to welcoming an over 50 million dollar federal investment to the City of South Fulton. The new Job Corps facility will serve over 500 students between the ages of 16 and 24. It will provide educational opportunities and job training; this investment in our community benefits employers who will be able to recruit students who will be trained and ready to work. I've been working closely with the Job Corp since 2017. The facility is slated to open in the year 2025.

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