Candidates had a chance to express their views on the budget, law enforcement, and even animal control at the “Meet the Candidates” forum, hosted by the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce Thursday night. Candidates have a minute each for opening and closing comments and to answer questions presented by a media panel. John Willis, of the Calhoun Times, Sam Thomas of WJTH radio, and Ken Payne of WEBS presented the questions.
Eddie T. Hall, incumbent for Calhoun City School Post 3, told the audience that he believed the excellent staff in the school system would continue to provide quality education despite receiving three letters from the state about budget shortfalls.
“We were very frugal when we did our budget,” he said, thanking the city council for being very generous with the schools.
Outside of budget, he said he’d like to see another SPLOST, special purpose local-option sales tax, pass in order to build a new high school.
“It’s a great building, but it’s old. No one complains, but they need a new building,” he said.
Also running for Post 3 is Chuck Faulkner, who did not attend the forum.
Matt Barton and Ray Denmon, incumbent, who are rallying for the Calhoun City Council post 3 addressed service issues facing the city, agreeing that adding services and outsourcing services have potential for success and that services should not be cut during hard economic times.
“Technology is always good,” said Barton, adding that a city internet service would benefit the city.
He said that outsourcing could work, if communication was clear and it helped the tax payer.
Denmon said that while he agreed with the city moving into the technology field, he’d like to see the Big Springs water facility expanded.
“I’d like to see everyone drinking that fresh spring water,” he said.
Both agreed they were in favor of a bypass around the city for transfer trucks.
Two of the three candidates for Fairmount City Council Post 1 were at the Forum. Max Mulkey and Teru “Teddy” Lapaquette answered questions about the budget and law enforcement.
“We’ve got a lot of room to grown, but it has to be done in the right way,” Mulkey said when asked about the challenges facing Fairmount in regards to growth.
“We’ve got a shrinking tax base, unemployment and less SPLOST,” Lapaquette said. “We’ve got to husband our resources, not remove any services, and look for agencies willing to come to the far east side of the county.”
Both agreed that Fairmount could handle some small and mid-size industry and businesses. When asked about closing the police department in favor of contracting with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office, both were quick to offer support for the municipal department.
“We need them,” said Mulkey. “I’m in favor of improving it and I would really like to have a fire department.”
“I don’t think it’s an either or, but sometimes, we go 12 to 14 hours without coverage. If it proved cost effective, it would be nice to have someone there during that time,” said Lapaquette.
Jerry Veasey was the only candidate for Resaca City Council Post 3 to attend the forum. Also running for the seat is Charles E. Austin and incumbent Alex Rosier Jr.
Veasey said he would support the city sharing the cost of the Resaca Battlefield project which would build a visitors center and historic state park.
“I understand a contractor has come forward offering to build the project for $1 million less than anticipated,” he said.
Ken Padgett, President of the Friends of Resaca, who has worked closely with the county and state officials on the project for almost two years, denied the claim when asked by the Calhoun Times.
Veasey also said the city faced debt issues. “What we aren’t doing is earning and saving.”
Johnny Brown, running for Resaca City Post 4 was also present. Missing was Mitch Reed. No incumbent is running in that race.
Brown, who was defeated in his last re-election bid, was asked how he planned to change the voters’ minds about him.
“They’ve realized I’m a worker,” he said.
As for long range economic plans, Brown said he plans to develop them. “We can see growth with the battlefield project.”
Copies of the forum are available at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library, the Resaca Library, and the Fairmount Library.
It will also run on Comcast channel 4 on Oct. 15, 19, 29, and Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.
Municipal elections are Tuesday, Nov. 3.