Monday June 16, 2008
The debate last Friday night gave all 6 candidates running for Post 3 Commissioner the opportunity to address the voters concerning local issues that mattered to them. We were all pleased to see the large turnout. The entire debate will be broadcast on Channel 16, shortly.
The format of the debate was fair and we all received an outline of the type of questions that would be asked several days prior to the debate. We knew that there might be some questions on the economy, growth, physical infrastructure and social infrastructure. We were also informed that there would be opening and closing statements and time limit on answers. The format allotted us 1 ½ minutes for each answer. We were all asked to draw numbers from 1 to 6 which would determine the order of our opening, closing and answering of questions. As it turned out, I was last.
After everyone had spoken about their Paulding County roots and family, I had to admit that I was really a Yankee from Indiana, but I had gotten here as fast as I could. Actually, I moved here in 1980 when there was one traffic light in the County and the intersection of Hwy 278 and Hwy 92 was just a stop sign. Asked to join the Civitan Club I started my public service to Paulding County.
The first question was about how our experience and professional background qualified us for the job. Being appointed to the Water Authority was an honor and I served with the Chairman of the County, the Mayor of Dallas and the Mayor of Hiram. Over the years, we were able to increase the supply of water into the County and built two new water storage tanks. Shortly before the County took over the Authority, I was part of the four County Reservoir project.
Later, I was asked to serve on the Hospital Board. I was surprised to find out its desperate financial condition. We were surviving only on cash flow and, quite frankly, had a poor reputation. We were told that the Nursing Home was sucking the Hospital dry and the County was refusing to pay for indigent care. Working together and asking the hard questions we learned that it was actually the Nursing Home that supported the Hospital. I realized that Paulding Hospital had some of the finest group of dedicated employees anywhere.
As part of the search team, we were successful in joining with Northwest Georgia Health Systems. We were able to obtain financial backing to build the new Emergency, Operating Rooms along with the CCU next to our current building. Now, as part of the Wellstar organization, we have one of the best Nursing Homes in the State and are building a new Hospital in Hiram. I am proud to still serve on that Board.
For over 20 years, I ran my own Insurance Agency in the County and during that time, served as National President of the Allstate Insurance Agent’s Association. I sold my business at the beginning of this year and have retired.
The second question was about the County Programs we liked and disliked. The first thought that came to mind was the new reservoir as the most liked and our uncontrolled growth plan as the least. I might also add that I believe that the Senior Citizen transport is an excellent program and I would support its expansion.
Questions were asked about the recreation opportunities and our parks programs. In researching this topic, I was pleased to find the hundreds of current programs available.
I did mention the Coppermine sewer plant and explained that it was one of my main concerns and that I had asked for a tour of the new micro filter plant to see if there was anyway it could be expedited.
(Remember we only had 1 ½ minutes to answer a question and the ladies holding up the 30 seconds, 10 seconds and stop signs did get your attention)
In closing, I stated that my first priority was completion of the reservoir and planning for water treatment. Public Safety is a very high priority in that we need to attract and retain the best possible people for our Police, Fire and Safety Departments. We need better cooperation between the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners to avoid overcrowding of schools and unsafe roads going to our schools.
To reduce taxes on our property owners, we need to continue to improve our infrastructure to attract new business which will decrease the percentage of taxes (now about 25% of the budget) paid by homeowners and increase the percentage paid by business.
I was very pleased to be able to speak at this meeting and thank the Republican Party for the time and effort. I also thank the many people who spoke to me after the debate telling me of their support.
I look forward to meeting many more voters at the “Meet the Candidates” meeting on Saturday July 12th from 1 to 5pm at White Oak Park.