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BOC District 1 candidates address quality of life, transit and SPLOST issues

Sonna Singleton

Sonna Singleton

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Joyce Baul

JONESBORO — Quality of life in a commission district that includes the hustle and bustle of the Southlake Mall area and the quiet Rex Village was the number one question candidates in District 1 were asked. However, the Democratic candidates also faced questions about mass transit and the swiftness of moving through SPLOST projects.

Here are the candidates in their words:

SONNA SINGLETON

Incumbent District 1 Commissioner

What District 1-specific quality of life issues would be your top priorities to address if you are elected, and what do you consider the top issues? Candidates are free to interpret this as economic development/zoning issues, sidewalks, street lights, greenspace or any other issue they chose to consider quality of life-related.

“I am very proud of the contribution we have made to improving the quality of life for the citizens of District 1. Since I have been in office, we have seen the infusion of millions of investment dollars into District 1. The millions in private business dollars have led to more jobs and more opportunities for our citizens. I am also proud of the public investment we have made in the district. My efforts have helped us open a new recreation center and build new fire and police stations. The future holds even more promise for us as we look to build a new senior center and library on land we recently acquired in the district. In this time of the year where candidates have to spew negativity, doom and gloom, I can tell you that in District 1, my focus has been on making us safer, creating jobs and enhancing leisure and educational opportunities. I am asking the voters of District 1 to vote for me and in the words of a poem by Frank L. Stanton..let’s ‘Keep A-Goin’!!”

What is your stance on the issue of reviving public transit in the county and why is that stance? Part of that question, if you are in favor of bringing transit back, is what would you like a transit system to look like (such as join MARTA or start up a free-standing system, buses only or buses and rail, etc).

“The decision to end C-Tran was made only after a careful analysis of all of the issues involved with running a transit system in our county. While I appreciate the obvious benefits associated with the rebirth of a transit system, as an experienced commissioner, I also appreciate the ‘not so obvious’ challenges. Therefore, it is important that we allow the firm we hired to do a transit feasibility study to perform the work we asked it do. After careful and sober consideration of the forthcoming report, I will vote to make the decision I believe to be in the best interest of this county and its citizens.”

There has been discussion in both the media and among some residents in recent months about how quickly the county completed 2004 and 2009 SPLOST projects. What would you like to do over the next four years, if elected, to address the issue of completing SPLOST projects in a timely manner?

“The majority of the SPLOST funds yet to be expended are associated with transportation and development projects. Many of these projects are dependent upon the availability of state and federal funds, compliance with state and federal environmental and purchasing guidelines. The average citizen would not necessarily know that due to the many bureaucratic hurdles you have to overcome, a major project like the realignment of Highway 85 at Forest Parkway could take years to complete. In addition to the structural delays like I just described, county staff is expected to make recommendations to proceed on all projects based of the following criteria. We proceed when we know the timing is conducive to maximizing the benefit we receive from our SPLOST dollars while minimizing the amount of general fund dollars needed to complete and/or operate the project. As a result, some projects have taken longer to complete because we can stretch our SPLOST dollars and save property tax dollars by allowing county staff to do the work. It might take a little longer, but it’s cheaper. The latter consideration was also especially important when considering when to build new recreation centers or libraries which would cost hundreds of thousands of property tax (not SPLOST) dollars to operate. Having said all of that, I am satisfied that as the economy improves we will be moving forward more aggressively with some of these projects, not because we were not previously acting in a timely manner, but because conditions are conducive to moving forward.”

ROSA BARBEE

No response received

JOYCE BAUL

Age: 60

Occupation: Financial Service Advisor, Transamerica/WFG

Lived in Clayton County for over 30 years

What District 1-specific quality of life issues would be your top priorities to address if you are elected, and what do you consider the top issues? Candidates are free to interpret this as economic development/zoning issues, sidewalks, street lights, greenspace or any other issue they chose to consider quality of life-related.

“Restoring bus transportation, economic development (and) increase home purchasing.”

What is your stance on the issue of reviving public transit in the county and why is that your stance? Part of that question, if you are in favor of bringing transit back, is what would you like a transit system to look like (such as join MARTA or start up a free standing system, buses only or buses and rail, etc).

“I am in favor of restoring bus transportation because the residents need the ability to travel to work, school and other places like doctor’s appointments economically and new businesses need to know that before they invest, that their employees will be able to get to work.”

There has been discussion in both the media and among some residents in recent months about how quickly the county completed 2004 and 2009 SPLOST projects. What would you like to do over the next four years, if elected, to address the issue of completing SPLOST projects in a timely manner?

“Handle the commitments with integrity, meaning if the funds have been collected, the project needs to be completed. If there is a delay, inform the citizens of it and why, so that they know how their tax dollars are being spent.”

RICHARD REAGAN

What District 1-specific quality of life issues would be your top priorities to address if you are elected, and what do you consider the top issues? Candidates are free to interpret this as economic development/zoning issues, sidewalks, street lights, greenspace or any other issue they chose to consider quality of life-related.

“Economic development would be a top priority for me along with safety for our seniors and children. Give the courts and police the tools they need to fight crime.”

What is your stance on the issue of reviving public transit in the county and why is that your stance? Part of that question, if you are in favor of bring transit back, is what would you like a transit system to look like (such as join MARTA or start up a free standing system, buses only or buses and rail, etc).

“This county needs public transit. I am in favor to bring it back. I also would like to see rail transit in the county as it has been discussed for years.”

There has been discussion in both the media and among some residents in recent months about how quickly the county completed 2004 and 2009 SPLOST projects. What would you like to do over the next four years, if elected, to address the issue of completing SPLOST projects in a timely manner?

“Move forward on all SPLOST projects. Voters have approved the sales tax. Now get busy and complete the projects voted on.”