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Posted: July 18, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Primary decides: 2 Democrats vie for BOC District 4 seat

Below are five questions, specific to Newton County District 4, which were asked to Democratic incumbent J.C. Henderson and Democratic challenger Kenneth Hardeman. District 4 contains much of the western and northern parts of Covington and all of Oxford. Respondents were asked to limit their answers to 200 words or less. 

Please describe your district and how it has changed during the past decade.

Henderson: "When I first was elected we only had one college, Oxford (College), now have two with Troy (University). We had no community centers; now we have Washington Street Community Center and Nelson Heights Community Center. The historic jail that we are now remodeling, that used to be the DMV. People used to pass out in the heat, because of the long lines. And there was only one unisex bathroom. I worked with Chairman Davis Morgan to move the DMV to (the remodeled, former) R.L Cousins (High School). We used to not have a football field, but now we've made a place for the kids (at Wolverine Field). I'm very proud of it."

Hardeman: "The population has changed since the last census. We have seen this district's housing occupancy decrease in some areas due to the economic downturn of our country. The Harristown revitalization project is on hold but plans are still in the making. Clark's Grove has been a welcome addition to our community, as well as the erection of the Episcopal Church and bike trail from Turner Lake Park to the Newton County Library."

2. If budget cuts must continue to be made, what county services must be kept to meet the needs of District 4 and why?

Henderson: "The basic services that meet the needs of all of us. First of all needs sheriff's protection. You need your fire protection. You need your budget for roads, and you need basic communication."

Hardeman: "Public safety is a priority for me; it is a basic service that government was created to provide. Residents of our community deserve and expect to feel safe wherever they reside in this community. Businesses need to know they can provide/produce services and products in a safe environment with their inventory safe."

3. If the economy improves, what added or enhanced service(s) do you feel would most benefit your constituents and why?

Henderson: "We need to enhance the recreation department, because our kids need an outlet. They need tutoring. That's one of the reasons I worked so hard with the Nelson Heights Community Center. We needed a place for the kids to go and have fun and tutor. Education is the main thing every kid needs. A good education. We don't want them to get in trouble. Without a high school education you can end up in jail. Right now, our jail system is full. What we need to do is enhance our recreation for our kids."

Hardeman: "Make a careful assessment of how well we have done without and carefully review what enhancement of the expected services can be added that affect our constituents."

4. Please describe any suggestions you have of ways to possibly save the county money or increase revenue.

Henderson: "One of the things I've been talking about for the past 10 years is our landfill. We're losing a half million dollars at our landfill. I think it's the time for us to look at privatizing it. When you privatize something run by government you can get it run more efficiently and can make money also. We know our landfill is worth $100 million. It may be time to allow other counties to dump (their trash). We need to get together as a board to look at it."

Hardeman: "Review line items in the budget. Combining departments that duplicate services and developing a service efficiency plan will address some of the concerns in our budget and will help deliver expected services to our constituents."

5. Where and how can the BOC facilitate economic growth in District 4?

Henderson: "One of the best ways for us to facilitate economic growth is investing in small businesses. They create more jobs than any big businesses that can come in. We can form an incubator program to grow small businesses in Newton County. The other part is when a big company moves to Newton County, like SKC receiving tax breaks, we need to make sure they hire local people. Because we all bite the bullet by giving free property or tax breaks, the least they can do is hire people. Because we need jobs."

Hardeman: "Work more cohesively with the chamber of commerce to further sell the great things that Newton County has to offer to attract new retail business, industry and restaurants to locate to our community. We need to avoid losing tax dollars to our neighboring counties. When we shop in another county, we are sprucing up some else's yard. Let us be open-minded and embrace some creative plans to make this happen."

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