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Get to know local candidates

Get to know your local school board and county commission candidates in this week’s special edition of the Journal Reporter. COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 1: Three candidates, Tim Daniel, Mark Lennon and Roosevelt Willis Tim Daniel: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? I have a passion for public service. I feel there is a need for more people of my generation to get involved in local government. I believe Pike County has a strong administrative team and it’s doing a good job. We have solid infrastructure and a superior quality of life. I want to help keep that momentum going. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? I feel compelled to be involved in civic and charitable organizations. I’m a member and past president of The Sertoma Club, former Pike representative on the McIntosh Trail Community Service Board and a volunteer for many other civic and charitable organizations. I believe with my background in business, management and public service, along with my dedication and commitment to our community, I can help the people of Pike. What do you plan to accomplish if you are elected? Road improvements seem to be on everyone’s list. I plan to work toward improving  them. I want to keep taxes down but at the same time not compromise our quality of life.  What do you feel is the county’s greatest asset and how do you plan to protect it? Pike County’s greatest assets are the people who live here. We have an abundance of hard-working citizens who want to provide their families with an outstanding county in which to live. I want to help them by keeping taxes low and maintaining our parks, roads and other infrastructures that makes us superior to other Georgia counties. What is your stance on animal control? Animal control is needed but we need to work within our means. Families enjoy outside activities and safety is always a concern of mine. How would you be accountable to voters and citizens? I would be 100% accessible to all of the citizens in Pike, not just those in District 1. As in my business life, I’m always available. Mark Lennon: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? I enjoy helping others and by serving on the commission I can help a larger number of citizens. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? My academic, business and public service background will help me carry out the county commission duties. What do you plan to accomplish if you are elected? I will hold taxes and expenses to a minimum. What do you feel is the county’s greatest asset and how do you plan to protect it? Pike’s rural character is its greatest asset. I would protect it by using zoning along the Highway 19, 41 and 18 areas. What is your stance on animal control? The county needs an animal control officer, facility and ordinances. How would you be accountable to voters and citizens? I would be available by e-mail to citizens anytime. I would be free to talk with citizens at times that are convenient for each of us. The ballot box is the ultimate accountability for each public official. Roosevelt Willis: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? To be a strong voice of and for the people. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? Because I held this office for four years previously. At the time I held this office, I was the only Certified Commissioners’ Advanced Program certified commissioner in the history of Pike County. What do you plan to accomplish if you are elected? To bring in some type of industry to help offset the tax base. What do you feel is the county’s greatest asset and how do you plan to protect it? I think our children and our school system are our greatest asset. We must make sure they are well-educated and protected because one day they will be our nation’s leaders. What is your stance on animal control? I think we need animal control. Maybe if we had animal control a few years ago, the lady who was mauled to death may still be alive today. How would you be accountable to voters and citizens? I believe in an open door policy and accountability. Citizens would have access to me at all times. COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 2: Two candidates, Peter Potter and Timothy Guy Peter Potter: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? I’m a pro-active, effective and proven leader who wants to make Pike County a better community. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? I earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, taught university courses, was a Marine and owned an international management consulting business and other successful businesses. I’m a leader who gets results. For example, I led a team that solved problems and reached the goal of updating and revitalizing the J. Joel Edwards Public Library. What do you plan to accomplish if you are elected? Commissioners make policy, find money, draft budgets, give the county manager authority over departments and oversee the county manager to ensure his or her job effectiveness. What do you feel is the county’s greatest asset and how do you plan to protect it? A rural, scenic atmosphere defines Pike. Focused marketing could bring clean industries like film and tourism here without destroying our rural nature. What is your stance on animal control? Animal control issues, avoided for too long, should be resolved immediately. How would you be accountable to voters and citizens? I promise to be accountable by acting with fairness, honesty, integrity and courage when dealing with Pike’s voters and citizens. Timothy Guy: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? My primary reason for seeking public office, is so that I can better help with the future of our county and the future of our children. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? The reason I feel that I am qualified for this office is because I am an experienced local business owner, known to make good common sense decisions. Also, I am a caring person, who is greatly concerned for the welfare of the people of our county. What do you plan to accomplish if you are elected? I plan to work together with the county manager and other commissioners to meet the needs of the people. What do you feel is the county’s greatest asset and how do you plan to protect it? Our greatest asset is our people, including our children. I plan to protect it by keeping a safe hometown environment for us to live in. What is your stance on animal control? I feel that we do need a means on controlling any vicious animals in the county. Perhaps a cost-share, multi-county service could make this more affordable. There are options that I would like to check into that would benefit both animal owners and citizens. How would you be accountable to voters and citizens? I will be available to talk with and listen to their concerns. I will then take these concerns to our board and assist in making the best decisions that I know to make. SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 6: Edd Sanders challenging incumbent Fred Blackmon Edd Sanders: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? To serve the citizens, of all ages, of Pike County in moving the school system from a good system to a great system. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? I have 17 years of executive management experience in the public and government sector as well as experience in maintaining a safe and productive environment. What are the major issues facing the school system? The school system’s main issues are budget, taxes, student safety, preparing students to achieve in a global economy and leveling of administrative salaries. What changes would you make to solve these issues? I would cap administrative salaries, revisit pay raises in the schools for teachers, paraprofessionals, food service and maintenance employees ‘“ the most essential staff. What is your stance on local school security? There is no such thing as secure enough for students, staff and visitors. We need regular security audits and policy reviews. I have 30 years experience in this area. How would you ensure the school system is fiscally efficient? With a constant review of budget expenditures, common sense reduction in costs, ensuring the best results for spending. Holding managers responsible for their budget requests and expenditures and reducing the budget where academics, safety and student life are not compromised. Fred Blackmon: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? My reason for seeking re-election after 30 years of service is to continue the work that has resulted in one of the highest graduations rates in Georgia while maintaining one of the four lowest county expenditure rates. During my time, we’ve become the best educational value in the state. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? Perspective and wisdom comes only through time and experience. I’ve served on this board 30 years and I’ve learned what it takes to be a good board member. During my three decades of service I’ve never advocated a personal agenda. I’ve always worked to support our children, educators and taxpayers. I’m committed to doing what’s right for our community, not special interest. What are the major issues facing the school system? Two major issues face our school system: growth and poverty. As the housing market begins to rebound it’s critical for our county and city governments to adopt a measured approach to housing and zoning. Another issue significantly impacting our school district is poverty, moreover how we meet the needs of these children to ensure they’re college and career ready. What changes would you make to solve these issues? When re-elected, I’ll lead the effort to facilitate a comprehensive and measured growth strategy for the community. We all recognize the challenges of out-of-control growth and the strain it places on infrastructure and the quality of life in our community. Throughout my time on the board, I’ve advocated for providing a variety of learning opportunities for our children: Advanced Placement, alternative education, dual-enrollment, virtual learning.  What is your stance on local school security? The security of our children is job number one. We’ve added access control to Pike primary and elementary schools and added an additional resource officer. Future plans include access control at the middle and high schools. It’s a delicate balance; we don’t want our schools to feel like a prison. How would you ensure the school system is fiscally efficient? Each year, Pike posts one of the lowest per-pupil expenditure rates in the state. During the last six years of massive state funding reductions the board has received flexibility waivers from state board rules, allowing for more efficiency. These waivers have allowed the board to absorb state funding cuts and pass on a net tax reduction to local taxpayers of $375,000, even though the school has been cut $13 million during the same time frame. SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 4: Robert E. Adams Jr. challenging incumbent Charles Garrard Charles Garrard: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? I am seeking public office to promote the welfare of students and citizens of Pike. I am an advocate for teachers and all staff. I believe strongly that students should be able to participate in all after school activities. Why do you feel qualified to hold this office? My qualifications are 32 years of experience in the education field. What are the major issues facing the school system? One of the major issues facing the school system is funding. We need to continually plan for student growth and maintaining the school buildings. What changes would you make to solve these issues? My first step to solve this issue would be to work in our community to build businesses to take the tax burden off local property owners. We want to attract businesses that will generate jobs. What is your stance on local school security? My stance on local school security is that we must continue to uphold the safety of our students. We should relentlessly review and upgrade our protocols and make necessary changes to ensure we are prepared for any emergency situation. How would you ensure the school system is fiscally efficient? I would ensure the school system is fiscally efficient by balancing the school system’s budget. Robert E. Adams Jr.: Robert E. Adams Jr. declined to respond to the candidate forum questionnaire sent to each local candidate by the Journal Reporter. SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 2: (candidate unopposed) Allen Edwards: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? To use my abilities to play a role in the direction of our school system. Ensuring we are doing everything possible to protect what we have while planning the best course for our future. Why do you feel qualified to hold this office? I have experience managing a business which is responsible for hundreds of employees at multiple locations. I have been involved and chaired many different boards while being active in the community. Most importantly, I have two children who are making their way through our school system and a wife who is a certified teacher who is very active in our system. What are the major issues facing the school system? We have many issues facing our school system; state and local funding, facilities and equipment, salaries, quality of education and parental involvement to name a few. What changes would you make to solve these issues? I will need to have a better understanding of both sides of the issues facing our school system. I can work with our board and administration to prioritize and plan improvement. What is your stance on local school security? School security is becoming more important. Through technology, we find it necessary to prepare for much more than just knives and guns. How would you ensure fiscally efficiency? I would use my position to make decisions which deliver the best use of our resources for current and future needs. SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 1: (candidate unopposed) Ryan Edge: What was your primary reason for seeking public office? I’m seeking reelection so I can continue to be an advocate for our children and teachers of Pike County. Why do you feel you are qualified to hold this office? My 13-plus years in finance in the private sector give me a healthy understanding of budgets. My wife is a second grade teacher so I’m always aware of issues facing our students and teachers on a daily basis. What are the major issues facing the school system? I believe one major issue is a continued lack of funding for public education from the state and federal levels. During the past five years our system has seen over a $13 million cut in our austerity funding. During this time our board was able to give Pike residents an aggregate tax cut of over $378,000. This shows strong budget management and financial constraint led by the board of education. Another major issue we’re facing is the rolling out of Common Core standards and the impact it will have on our teachers and students. What changes would you make to solve these issues? During my first term, I met consistently with our state senators and state representatives on how their actions in the house have substantial impacts on small rural systems like Pike. I’ll continue to be a voice for Pike. What is your stance on school security? Pike has made significant strides in security the past several years. We were one of the first schools in the country to pilot auto-lock doors which requires visitors to be given access to get through the locked doors. We were also able to add an additional resource officer this past year. How would you ensure fiscally efficiency? I’ll continue to be in contact with our state legislators and continue to be an advocate for them to properly fund education. We’ll continue to look for ways we can be more efficient.

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