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Mike Whatley questionaire responses
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The following are the responses of the incumbent candidate for Covington City Council Post 2 East Ward, Mike Whatley, to a series of questions posed by local civic organizations, compiled by The News and distributed to all municipal candidates in contested races.


SMART Growth Newton:


How will you foster cooperative relationships between your city and Newton County, other municipalities, the Water and Sewer Authority and the School Board?


If elected, I plan to continue to work with all entities by serving on the board of the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, the Government Committee with Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful as well as on-going Leadership Collaborative meetings with the Newton County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, NCWSA and other government entities involved.


What are the three most important issues facing your community, and how do the 10 principles of Smart Growth apply or help address these issues?


Growth: For smart growth projects to flourish, governments must make an effort to make development decisions about smart growth more timely, cost effective and predictable for developers.


Increased Crime: Smart Growth promotes mixed land use which enhances vitality and perceived security by increasing the number of people on the street.  


Poverty: Promote a range of housing opportunities and choices.


How do you feel about the disproportionate level of housing versus commercial/industry in the community?


The unbalanced proportion of residential to commercial/industrial needs to be addressed by adhering to land use and zoning plans and working with the chamber to promote the right commercial/industry to come to our community.


Do you support impact fees, and why/why not?


Yes, there should be some economic support by those businesses/industries and residential development that adversely impact our infrastructure.  The long-established communities should not have to financially support the new growth.


The Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce:


What infrastructure do you consider critical for Covington to provide to prepare for future economic development? The rewards of economic development tend to go to the communities that have invested in themselves, thus making the investor feel confident that it is a mutual investment.


Water and sewer capacity is always foremost to provide and prepare for economic development.


Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful:


What are your views on a stronger tree preservation and landscape ordinance?


I don't think we can pass an ordinance that is too strong to provide tree preservation and landscape. A beautiful landscape gives a great first impression of our community.


Would you be willing to place a moratorium on new construction while we figure out available water resources?


I would be willing to discuss a moratorium if our water concerns are ever severe enough.  We have great water resources and great possibilities - we just need to put our plans in high gear.


What are your views on local trails, i.e. biking and walking paths?


Walking trails and biking paths are all part of a complete community.  Safety has to be the number one issue, but any outside recreation we can provide for all ages is a must for the health of our community.


What would you do to help provide increased maintenance of our city streets and right-of-ways?


My record will show that I have always been in support of maintaining our streets, and we have made many improvements in all areas in the last eight years.


Would you support giving more support to local code enforcement officers and police to help clean up some of our blighted business and residential areas?


I have always supported doing whatever it takes to clean up blighted areas. Property owners have to take responsibility for upkeep of property.  The Covington Mill area is one example of using strict enforcement to move toward a resolution of unacceptable conditions that neighbors and the community have had to endure.


How would you propose to finance improvements along the U.S. Highway 278 corridor including the new LCI plan?


These can be accomplished with Department of Transportation funds and low-interest community block grants.


What are your views on transportation issues in this community including public transportation, intersection improvements and constructing connecting roads to help alleviate U.S. Highway 278 traffic?


Hopefully, the improvement to the Dearing Street/Bypass intersection along with the Turner Lake roundabout will be a step in the right direction. When the Department of Transportation approves the truck route away from the square, we should also see a marked improvement in traffic flow downtown.




What role do you believe the city government should play in addressing poverty among its citizens and what specific steps would you take?


Following progressive economic growth plans should bring quality jobs and more jobs for our citizens.


Covington provides gas and electric service to its residents.  Given that utility rates pose a significant financial burden on those living below the poverty level, what steps if any could the government take to reduce that burden?


The council should do everything we can to insure the rates the utilities demand are the absolute lowest we can charge and at the same time provide quality services.  The council has appointed a committee to determine if there is a program that can be established for that purpose.


Arts Association in Newton County


What is the role of an arts community in the health of a city?


Arts play a vital role in providing diverse cultural entertainment for all ages in the community.


Do you think Covington could better support its artists and art community?  How?


I think Covington has made great strides in the last five years in supporting and showcasing art and artists in the community. 


Do Covington/Newton County's art community and activities contribute to the economic growth and vitality of this community?


The arts draw residents from Newton and surrounding counties to enjoy not only the venues but to shop and dine.


Have the arts received their fair share of public and governmental support in this community?


The city and county's endorsement of the civic center is a major show of support for the arts in this community and the economic impact it will provide.