Questions from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce:
Q: In light of the recent events surrounding this race, how do you plan on restoring respect and dignity to the office of Mayor if you are elected?
A: I must admit, in my exuberance to be in a position to help the people, all the people, I did move in a direction that was not a favorable one. Having admitted to this indiscretion, and you understand that I was not targeted by Time Magazine as has happened in the past, my initial thoughts based upon the actual trivia of such actions which were emphasized by those politically opposed to my candidacy, my promises to the people will be carried out, with the assistance of the competent council members the city has on board and possible any newcomers with sound business experience with sound business experience. That primary promise is to eliminate the power structure which influences not only city policy but in our county as well.
And if you are biblically inclined, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..."
Q: What role do you see the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce playing in your administration?
A: The Chamber is comprised of business people who live with challenges daily which mirror the challenges of the City. Any governing body needs all the advice and input available to them. It is imperative that this talent be polled on many important decisions of finance, investments, and other issues we will face.
Q: There has been a lot of discussion regarding the film and TV industry in Covington. Do you believe it is a positive or negative impact for Covington and what role do you see the City playing in it to support your opinion?
A: Any business venture within legal and moral acumens (That being within the sound judgment and benefit to the City) should be welcomed to our City. There are people involved in these activities who, when being exposed to our fine city and its people, will become ambassadors on behalf of our City. There has, in the past, been a serious lack of coordination with the parties that has resulted in confusion of the activities concerning the movie industry. There is basically one person who was responsible for the this problem but under my administration, a more capable professional will be in charge of those duties to see that coordination of these activities goes smoothly. It is what we will make it.
Questions from The Covington News:
Q: If you had to choose a single thing, what is the one thing that you plan to accomplish during your four-year term? How do you plan to accomplish this thing?
A: I believe we have had a lot of "knee jerk" decisions that have been made in the past without proper unbiased input. The Council, in wanting to move forward and always do the right thing, doesn't always have all the facts at decision time. There is nothing more important than proper planning and we haven't always had that.
My primary goal is to press for a plethora, or superabundance, of information. Sources must also always include the wishes of the citizens we serve. They are the ones who live with our decisions. If for example, the City wants to make another Hartsfield airport out of our Oxford facility, who are we to simply serve our own personal egos and move forward with such a projects if citizens don't want it?
In a nutshell, as a single goal, before moving forward on any issues is to have all the input available on every issue from every source, listen to the people, and then have the Council make their final decisions no matter how long it takes to get there. I firmly believe if you start at that point you will wind up with the best for the citizens of the City.
And, since you asked, many people have told me how uncomfortable they are talking with my opponent, especially when he begins to talk about how rich he is.
Q: Having campaigned around the city for the past couple of months, what is the most valuable insight you've gained from Covington residents?
A: The high cost of utilities is always on the front burner. There was a time when the City had no property tax, and the reasonable utility rates paid for all city operations. The City is a big business. If a major corporation had the revenues the City has and had to pay no taxes of any sort, collected taxes, and still charged such high prices for their services (Our utility costs) in a competitive market they would be bankrupt in a month.
Somehow there is a way to rein in all these excess expenditures. We have to take a hard look at why utilities in the City are as much as three times higher than those in the County. And always remember when we take a "grant" they also require matching, or at least local funds, taxpayers dollars. Not something we need to be doing at this time.
Questionable use of stimulus funds seems to be a hot topic. Even taking them has also come up on a number of occasions. Why are so many Cities and Counties turning their funds back in? The answers seem quite simple. Many of these projects have failed and left cities with huge debt, high maintenance expense and administrative staff with no revenue to operate on. Another is the stipulations placed on these funds. "Do it by the book or pay the Fed back their money." This one is pretty scary to me personally. Even Newton County turned over their funds when they got a good look at what was involved.
Q: Once again, what makes you the best candidate for mayor?
A: I know the city. I know the people. The people know me. The people talk to me. I'm not some transplant who wishes to have a nice title, but I am just a regular country boy who feels the need to be able the step up and help the people. And the people know that is what they will get by voting for me. The major things on people's minds right now are making it through the day, or the week, with food on the table, and not losing their jobs or their homes. Just simple survival.
Spending the city's time and money on things like the infamous "Fifty Year Plan" or "Livable Communities" do not register with me nor do they register with the people. The best way we can become more "sustainable" is to quit taking advice from the "rich and famous" who only want to enrich their own pockets. Like the seriously indebted South American countries who kicked out the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve and now boast billions in surplus.
I can and do relate to the majority of the people and their needs. There is a big difference between need and want. The best advice I have heard from around the table is to be able to come out the other side of this depression with about what you had going in. Do not try to move and shake outside that box. If you do, you may not make it. Work with what you have, not what you would like to have.
Financial stability, financial responsibility and conservatism has to be my watchword for governing the city through this time of crisis for our citizens. I want to hear ideas from the public on how we can do better and how the city can save money. I will listen. I want to be your mayor. Give me a chance to make things better for the majority of our people, not just the rich and privileged few.
And last but not least, I will continue to remind our citizens and our council, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Stick to expenditures for basic service like fire and police protection, and things a city must provide and at least for the time being, forget the rest. It's a jungle out there.