With Covington Mayor Sam Ramsey's decision to not run for re-election in November, the race for mayor is wide open with two people already declaring their candidacy - city council member Roger Tingler and businesswoman Kim Carter.
Tingler was elected to the Covington City Council in 1989, making him the second most senior member of the six-member council after council member Janet Goodman.
"I think I bring continuity to the job," Tingler said of his candidacy. "I've worked under three different mayors. They all basically had the same goals as me."
As the owner of her own small business - BusinessWorks Solutions - and with 25 plus years of global business experience Carter said she would bring understanding, leadership skills and a fresh set of eyes to the post of mayor.
"I feel the challenge for our next mayor is the ability to understand and embrace the long-standing values that make our city a very special place, while also having the perspective and broad experience to forge a shared vision to address the challenges brought to bear by the tremendous growth all around us," Carter said.
In his time on the council, Tingler has sat on several committees including the Tree Board. He currently is chairman of the Cable Television Committee and also sits on the Industrial Authority Board and the Newton County Recreation Board.
A Vietnam veteran, Tingler is very active in the American Legion, where he has held local, district and state offices.
While this is the first elected office that Carter has run for, she has a long history of civic involvement and sits on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation and also serves on the Covington Board of Zoning Appeals - from which she has taken a leave of absence while she campaigns for mayor.
Carter also sits on the Ambassadors Committee at the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Covington Design Committee.
Tingler said his years of experience serving on the city council are his biggest asset in the race for mayor.
"I know all the ends and outs of dealing with the DOT and all the other business," Tingler said. "I think I have a lot to offer. I've been in management all my life. I've managed big budgets and lots of people."
Looking back on his long tenure as a council member Tingler said that he is especially proud of the work the city did to become fully accredited in all four of its municipal departments.
"The accreditation thing to a lot of people doesn't seem big but it is big in a sense that in the long run it saves the city lots of money and brings in revenue from grants."
Tingler said he is proud of the fact that the council hasn't had to raise the millage rate in several years, despite the strain caused to city services brought on by an influx of new residents. Tingler said he was also proud of the work he has done on the Recreation Board in bringing new recreation facilities to the area.
Carter said that her many years of experience in business leadership have given her a unique perspective and enabled her to lead the city. Carter said she has worked with large national and multinational corporations, managing annual budgets of more than $10 million
"Throughout my career, the common themes have been collaboration, teamwork, leadership, and vision," Carter said. "In every instance, the keys to success were to understand what matters, to unite people, and to lead by listening and speaking openly and honestly with others."
As mayor Tingler said he wouldn't advocate for any major changes in the way the city normally conducts its business but would work to bring a balance of new industries and new homes to the city.
"I think we want to keep a well-balanced city," Tingler said. "We don't want a bedroom community because that's a big tax burden."
If elected Carter said her top priorities would be managing growth, encouraging more economic development, addressing poverty and ensuring diversity.
"We need to branch out and proactively seek more commercial and retail businesses to relieve some of the tax burden of the residents and create jobs and economic opportunity for our citizens," Carter said. "I think maybe a fresh set of eyes is important some times."
Tingler moved to Covington as a young man from Virginia when he was transferred to the Covington plant of Hercules/Fiber Vision where he worked for 38 years. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Georgia State University. He is presently employed with Extrusion Control and Supply, Inc. in Covington. He has been a member of First Presbyterian Church for 38 years. He and his wife Tootles have two children and four grandchildren.
"I think I have a lot to offer the city that has been great to me," Tingler said. "I've raised my family here. "I want to make sure all of our citizens have a safe place to live and at the same time enjoy the growth."
Born and raised in Covington, Carter is the daughter of Jerry Capes who was a municipal court judge for the city for many years. Carter has an MBA in finance. Her company, BusinessWorks Solutions, does Quick Book consulting services as well as book keeping and payroll services for small businesses. Her husband of 25 years, Maurice works for IBM and is currently the chairman of a task force seeking to bring the Tour de Georgia to Covington in 2008.
"I love our city and I love our citizens," Carter said. "I believe I can make a positive difference by bringing my care and my diverse business skills to the table."
While former state representative and perennial candidate for mayor Bobby Sigman has not officially announced his candidacy for mayor, signs urging residents to vote for him have begun to crop up again.
Sigman, who currently works for Prudential Colony Realty as an associate broker, said he was testing the waters with the signs.
"We aren't ruling it out," Sigman said of the possibility of another race. "It's a possibility. I'm just waiting to see who else is jumping in. I'm a firm believer that there should be some changes made in the city."
While Mayor Ramsey - who has served as Covington's mayor since 1998 - said he would not be endorsing any one candidate he did say that it was important to be experienced because the mayor is expected to know a lot to begin with.
"I don't want to tell people in Covington who to vote for," Ramsey said. "I will say that Roger (Tingler) does have good qualifications for the job."
After serving three terms of mayor, Ramsey said he felt like it was enough. Ramsey said he would continue to run Ramsey's Furniture and would also be stepping up his involvement with his church, First United Methodist Church and his commitments to the Salem Campmeeting to which he has served as program chairman since 1964.
"Since I've become the mayor I've realized more and more the importance of having strong healthy churches." Ramsey said.