Though it’s been a slow election season to date, some local city council candidates are beginning to announce their runs for office, and The News is asking more, tougher questions than ever before.
The only publicly contested race to date is the Post 1 east Covington City Council race between incumbent Chris Smith and challenger Maurice Carter. Both men recently submitted their in-depth questionnaires to The News; the questionnaires cover platform, professional experience, education, civic involvement, any criminal background issues, financial background and voting history. As an incumbent, Smith was also asked about prior platform items.
The full questionnaires are attached as PDFs to the online version of this article. The questionnaire was based on issues from past elections — particularly last year’s increasingly contentious county races, in which candidates tried to use the newspaper to attack opponents’ pasts. This year, The News staff created a 35-plus question vetting list that is given to every candidate who announces a run for office. Below are excerpts from Carter and Smith’s questionnaires.
When asked what he was most proud of from his first term in office, Smith said. "The AED’s (automated external defibrillators) in the police cars; we have saved a life because they were put in them,. I commend the city manager, police chief, and everyone at the police department for receiving the training and putting it to good use. I am also very proud of our fire department; we now have over 20 EMTs to serve our city, and in the near future will have more life-saving equipment on them. Thanks to Chief McNeil for this.
"(Also, I’m proud of) not raising taxes, but, I feel, providing a better service to the city."
However, Carter felt the city council is not on the right track.
"When I talk with people about the direction our city is headed, I hear a mixture of great optimism about the potential and real frustration with the lack of vision, foresight and thoughtful leadership exhibited in recent city council decisions. I share that view," Carter said in response to why he was running for office at this time. "I also believe it is the role of citizens to not just talk about what needs to be done, but to step up and be willing to assume the responsibilities of stewardship.
"I feel those representing my district on the council are operating in a reactive manner from a narrow agenda. They have lost sight of the city’s strategic plan and are meddling in operational matters at the expense of long-range objectives. I want to help return the focus of the Council where it should be: on realizing long-term plans that address the needs and priorities of our community as a whole."
The other two Covington council seats up for election are the west council Post 2, held by Hawnethia Williams and the west council Post 3, held by Ocie Franklin.
Qualifying for Covington will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Aug. 26-30 at the Newton County Board of Elections, 1113 Usher St., Covington.