To hear from Chickamauga’s candidates for City Council, check next week’s North Georgia Weekly.
On Nov. 7, residents of several North Georgia municipalities will cast votes for city councilmembers, judges, school board members and more. In time for early voting, which begins Oct. 16, North Georgia Weekly asked candidates in contested races a series of questions to better introduce them to their voting constituency.
In addition to their occupation, we asked: 1. What makes you qualified for the position you're running for? 2. What's the biggest issue facing your community today, and how would you go about solving it? 3. What is something you'd change in how the city/department is run?
Here are their answers.
RINGGOLD CITY COUNCIL
The top vote getters will fill two seats.
Educator, small-business owner, music ministry leader
1. I'm a Ringgold native, so I know the community, the issues, the needs; but more importantly, I'm not stagnant with them. I'm new to holding political office, so I come in with a fresh, non-biased approach to real solutions that's best for our community. We are all one Ringgold, and we need to govern that way to create the best quality of life and promote positive growth for our citizens.
2. I would say two things: The first is transparency, honesty and integrity in our leadership. The city council has had some controversy in the recent past, particularly in the way it brought in the digital sign, watched the charter get changed by the legislature, and most disturbingly, the way several council members treated our beloved former mayor, Joe Barger.
The second would be the appeal of Ringgold for new small businesses. They are the heart of our business community.
3. Increased communication and community involvement, especially before considering new and potentially controversial issues. This would greatly improve transparency. For instance, I've heard a lot of complaints about lack of foreknowledge regarding the methadone clinic. We should have seen it coming and could have passed a prohibitive ordinance before it got here.
I'd also like to see the creation of more civic boards to generate input and thought into city planning, community development and encourage long-range vision for our community's well-being.
Randall Franks (incumbent)
1. I listen and build relationships. As a former government journalist elected in 2009, I've participated in approximately 900 public meetings, reviewed thousands of documents and 17 annual city budgets, and received close to 200 hours of municipal government training. Our council works to bring many positive opportunities for our residents and visitors. I coordinated volunteer services for city/county during the 2011 tornado and served as public information officer alongside our county manager, telling the world how they could help us.
2. Our greatest challenge is also a blessing that many communities desire: growth. How do we manage the economic growth and the doubling in population while keeping the look, feel and community spirit of a small town? Those goals have long been the focus of the council as we listened to our residents to define the future of our community through improved ordinances, long-term planning and attracting business, industry and government partners to help us reach the vision.
3. We change something at each council meeting as we adjust policies or ordinances to be more effective, or purchase equipment to improve the ability of our employees to do their jobs. I think the operation of our city is amazing, our employees do so much with so little, but yet they enable us to give our residents a greater quality of life than the money invested.
Jake Haynes (incumbent)
Maintenance supervisor for Catoosa County Schools
1. Management experience, 29 years working in this community, [and] my desire to help Ringgold to continue being the best it can be.
2. Traffic along Alabama Highway is one of the biggest issues. In solving this problem, we will have wider roads, new sidewalks and safer streets for our residents and our businesses; all to be completed in the next three years.
3. I believe the city of Ringgold is doing a great job. We need to continue on training and educating in the technology area within all departments.
1. I am an educated mom of three who has paid taxes in this city for 17 years. I have been an educator for 20 years. I was a business owner in the city of Ringgold. I have experienced every aspect of this city: as a resident, business owner, taxpayer and consumer. Being a working mom of three tells any voter I can multitask!
2. The growth of our city. We have lost our ability to attract businesses that our citizens desire because the council has been known to be very difficult to work with. I have met with several current business owners who have told me stories of their own experiences of how difficult dealing with the current council has been. I want to attract businesses back to Ringgold in the form of shopping, restaurants and things our citizens now have to leave the city to enjoy.
3. I would change the lack of transparency and communication between the city council and the citizens. Use of social media is a part of that communication and transparency. I would look into the possibility of changing our city charter back to not require a unanimous vote by the council to terminate the city manager. No paid position should have more power than the elected officials.
LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL
John "Vic" Burgess
Manager - Connections NW
1. I believe I have the personality to deal with diverse personalities in a diplomatic and respectful manner. I am a very accessible person and admit when I don't know the answer to something; I will assist someone finding the right person to help when I can't. I have many ideas to improve the city while keeping in mind it is the taxpayers' money and we need to think outside the box when it comes to funding improvements.
2. The economy is key to the whole operation. A few years ago, we lost Blue Bird bus company, which was a huge blow to our community economically. We need to do what we can to bring good jobs to the area. The education demographic is something businesses look at when deciding where to locate. We need to partner with Northwestern Technical College to increase our community's overall education, and encouraging citizens to obtain GEDs, certificates or degrees. We also need to maximize the potential as a commuter community.
3. I would ask the council to consider electronic bill pay for city utilities. I would be surprised if this has not been brought up in the past. I would also like for there to be an option for people to round up their bill to the nearest dollar for an emergency fund for the elderly on a fixed income and single parents.
Beacher Garmany (incumbent)
Despite multiple attempts to reach him, Garmany did not return the quesionnaire.