City candidates debate Dahlonega issues
In the fourth installment of The Dahlonega Nugget's five-part series introducing the candidates for the upcoming City elections, The Nugget will focus on the three candidates running for Post 3.
Incumbent Mitch Ridley faces challenges by Dewey Moye and Wesley Barron in the general election for the seat.
Ridley is the current Post 3 representative and has worked for 37 years as a barber.
Moye is the long-time former Superintendent of the Lumpkin County School System.
Barron is a Dahlonega resident and is a recent UNG graduate.
Q: What, in your opinion makes you a qualified candidate for Post 3 of Dahlonega's city council?
"Owning a business in Dahlonega for 37 years gives me a personal perspective of the needs, wants, likes and dislikes of the community. It gives a unique opportunity for a council member too really know the will of the citizens. Being a husband/father/grandfather we are invested in the community of Dahlonega which has always been our home. If you really don't know your past will you never be able to see your future."
"I have served in leadership positions for 43 years, 35 of which have been with the schools in Lumpkin County. I have also served on multiple regional and state boards for education. I have developed and managed multi-million dollar budgets and supervised hundreds of employees at all levels while serving as Superintendent of Lumpkin County Schools for 12 years. I do not have any personal agenda. My only vision is to serve the community that I live in and love. I look forward to the opportunity to find new and creative ways to better serve my community."
"There are two qualifications to run for city elections: Age and residency. I meet both qualifications and am therefore qualified. Beyond that, I am competent, capable, motivated and educated. I have taken on challenges tougher than the job of a City Councilman during my time in the military and throughout my 29 years of being alive. For an entry level City Government position, I would say I am beyond qualified and you, the voters, would certainly not be disappointed in my performance."
Q: What do you see as the biggest issue for the city? And, how do you plan to tackle this particular issue?
"Now facing the city is the redevelopment of the Parks and Butler buildings downtown. To continue with efforts of the HPC and city staff to have a open dialogue between the developer and city. There is a need for a boutique hotel in the historic district that would bring more tourism which increases tax for city. The hotel has to complement the appearances of the surrounding buildings. Next is the aging infrastructure problems. After taking office the council saw we couldn't any longer continue as is. We began a capital improvement fund. We have just about completed the upgrade for waste water treatment plant, and continue improvements to water line delivery systems."
"The biggest issue from my perspective is the amount of bond debt facing our city. We also have infrastructure needs and a limited revenue stream. High water tap fees limit investment and development which in turn translates into job opportunities. We need to develop an ongoing strategy that involves representatives from UNG, Lanier Technical College, Lumpkin County Schools, Chamber of Commerce, County Commission and the Developmental Authority in promoting investment and economic opportunity for our citizens. Call centers, data processing companies along with high technology medical resources to support this effort. UNG, Lanier Technical College and our school system are top-notch resources for training and development. We have all of the assets in place to move forward with planned development that will benefit all of our citizens. We can preserve our historic community, but at the same time promote high tech investment with everyone working towards the best for our community."
"The most important issue is the debt. The good thing however, is that the debt is manageable. It is imperative that the city’s leaders implement policy that pays down the debt in a sustainable way. The key word being sustainable. To solve the issue of the debt, I plan to vote in favor of fiscally conservative policies that provide favorable economic conditions conducive to the controlled growth Dahlonega needs. This type of bottom-up revenue generation is a solid, long term plan for the city’s long term debt problem."
Q: Are you happy about the direction the City is currently moving in? Why or why not? If not, what direction do you think the City needs to be moving in?
"Overall, the city is going in the right direction. Our financial situation is greatly improved. Now that the ground work is laid. We can now begin to start looking at all ordinances. For areas of updating for more outdoor dinning, entertainment zones, sidewalk improvements and development of a trails system. These can be some of the uses for the three percent increase of the hotel tax. Some will talk only of the city's debts. We have debt, but it's a very managed debt. We have a AAA bond rating, and have a 22 year payment plan on debt. The city has over 43 million in assets of depreciation value. This is a investment in your and our children's future."
"We have made progress, but continuous improvement is ongoing and needs to be a focus. All entities need to come together in a cooperative and collaborative manner to seek productive solutions which will benefit both the city and the county. The issues, especially the amount of bond debt that we are facing, must be addressed directly with solutions that move our community forward. Henry Ford once said that, 'Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success.' I believe that to be true. Genuine leadership is about service and giving back."
"As far as Historic Preservation goes, absolutely. Economically, no. The city has been picking winners and losers for quite some time. A city with a debt problem cannot afford to pick and choose which businesses can or cannot enter the Dahlonega market, or place silly restrictions on how current businesses operate. These practices do not create the favorable economic conditions I discussed in question one. We need to lower the cost to market entry, which will attract businesses to the area."
The Dahlonega Nugget's five-part series of Q&As with the candidates running for office will conclude next week with the candidates for Post 5.