Questions from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce:
Q: The City has been reviewing the current sign ordinance. What are your thoughts on the existing and proposed ordinance and why?
A: The existing sign ordinance was carefully crafted with professional and public input as part of the overhaul of our zoning to be consistent with the recommendations of the Livable Centers Initiative, or LCI study, of the downtown. A consistent, pleasing look-and-feel is part of the sense of place that makes our downtown special. It helps attract residents, visitors, and the film industry to our community.
This is an area where my opponent and I differ significantly. Mr. Dalton voted in favor of allowing roof sign, pennants, streamers and inflatable balloons. I have a hard time believing a giant, inflatable gorilla will help any business. And overall, that would seriously harm most businesses in our downtown district.
Q: What role do you see the Covington/Newton Chamber playing in your administration?
A: - I will strongly support and challenge the Chamber of Commerce as the economic development arm for the city and the county, to remain relevant in promoting our community to prospective new industry.
- Equally important, the Chamber plays a vital role as a catalyst to bring together our existing industry and small businesses to work together for the good of the community as a whole.
- Also, the Chamber works closely with the City and County to maximize the return on our tourism assets.
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: Positive without a doubt. Done properly it's a win-win for all involved. Our attractiveness to the film industry goes back decades. Not only does filming bring business to our community during production, it creates residual returns in the form of tourists who come here now and years from now to see the sites where their favorite movie or program was filmed. The City's role is to create scenarios where we can be film-friendly, while also protecting basic rights and quality of life for our citizens. I will support continuing to make that happen.
Questions from The Covington News:
Q: What makes you qualified to essentially be a board member for an organization with 300 employees, a $120 million budget and several thousand customers?
A: I am qualified for this office not just because I care about the future of my hometown, but also because I have developed skills and expertise in the U.S. Navy and my professional career that will benefit city policy-making. I have extensive experience analyzing large systems to identify risk, prevent loss, and remove inefficiency. I've achieved results by putting in place skills, materials, systems and accountability. I consider myself a leader, and a team builder who places a premium on putting the right people in the right jobs with the appropriate training.
Q: Would you describe yourself as a conservative or liberal/progressive? In either case, why and what does that label mean to you as it applies to city government?
A: We've done enough harm in this country labeling one another and dividing into camps. It doesn't help us understand each another, because everyone defines these terms differently. In fact, too often, labels are an excuse not to listen to someone who doesn't wear the same label we do. Especially in the city government, where we all live in the same community as neighbors, we can speak face to face about the important matters. We don't need labels for that.
Q: If you had to choose a single thing, what is the one thing that you plan to accomplish during your four year term?
A: I would like to look back in four years and see a City of Covington that is working together in a unified way towards a clear vision supported by solid plans and consistent execution. I'd like to see us cultivating a shared sense of pride and involvement among our citizens and business community that Covington is a great place that is only getting better. That's what it will take to achieve the economic success and quality of life that our citizens expect.
Q: Why does the City need a new council person in the Post 3 East council seat?
A: Keith Dalton is a friend, and I thank him for his service. But, his approach to the business of our city has not served us well. His lack of commitment to long range planning, unwillingness to seek facts before acting and resistance to open discussion of important decisions are holding us back as a community.
We need council members who understand the vital importance of long-range planning for our city. Councilman Dalton says he doesn't believe we can plan more than one or two years out. He made a political issue of where the city would hold its planning retreat when he should have been concerned with making sure the time and effort invested would produce results. Immediately after the council adopted its strategic plan this year, Mr. Dalton voted not to budget for the Communications Director position highlighted as critical by council and staff in that plan.
We need someone who approaches critical issues and opportunities with an open mind and public discussion. The Norfolk Southern Railroad opportunity warranted fact-based discussion and careful consideration. Instead, Mr. Dalton caused division and controversy by calling for a vote last year to never discuss the matter again -- even though the council had not yet held its planned public information session. He voted again this year to stifle all talks. His blatant refusal to weigh facts and discuss views in public is not what we need to move our community forward.
Our future economic success and quality of life depend on a leadership team that realizes good things do not come to those that wait. They come to those who plan to make good things happen. I will be that kind of council person.