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Small turnout in Lake City forum

By Justin Boron

Two of the 1,144 registered voters in Lake City showed up for a political forum Wednesday night where three of the six council candidates laid out their ideas for the small town wedged between Forest Park and Morrow.

Ken and Marioly Betz, along with Clayton County NAACP mediators, raised concerns about some of the city's pressing issues such as code enforcement, growth, citizen participation, and alternative revenue sources.

All the candidates present said the city could do a better job informing the public.

Ray Johnson, a business owner, raised the issue of participation, saying if elected, he would ask the mayor to write a letter to citizens asking them their concerns. He also said he would like to set up a system in which real estate companies inform the city of new residents, so the city could supply them some sort of information guide.

Yvonne W. Kelly, a management analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, also said the idea of a newcomers guide would work wonderfully.

Dave “Devadas” Lynton, a Clayton County juvenile court officer, proposed the idea of a welcome kit that would outline the city's code enforcement laws and other ordinances.

He said the city's code enforcers primary goal should be to inform the public of the laws, then enforce.

Lynton said the city needed more resources in code enforcement and said he would like to see a bilingual officer that could address the city's increasingly diverse population.

Kelly said awareness was a big key to successful code enforcement.

“To me, 90 percent of the homeowners are not going to deliberately disobey a law if they know about it,” she said. But she also said to a certain extent, code enforcement is up to the homeowners and urged more community involvement.

The city's revenue also was on the minds of candidates and citizens.

Johnson said the city depended too much on revenue generated by speed traps on Ga. Highway 54.

“I don't like to see police sitting on the side of the street waiting to pull people over,” he said.

With the city positioned on the edge of the county's Gateway Village, Kelly said development of it would be the ticket to improved revenue as commerce spread into the city.

Lynton said the city should catch the economic wind of Gateway and work to create its own identity.

“One of the things that we're challenged by is that we're squeezed by Morrow and Forest Park,” he said.

Candidates in the Nov. 8 election run at large in the city. The city's top two vote-getters will win the two open seats.