RIVERDALE—This is a transcript of opening remarks by three candidates at the Oct. 10 Riverdale Candidate Forum held at City Hall. The candidates, in order, are Ward 4 Councilman Kenny Ruffins, Ward 2 candidate Rodney Lawrence and Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon.

KENNY RUFFINS: Good afternoon, everybody. Glad you guys could all come out. [inaudible] As I go around, people want to know [inaudible] stuff that I tried to get involved with initially. One way that I like to start out, I don’t care if it’s the President or a senator. An elected official, their responsibility is to improve your life. That’s it. That’s the one thing every elected official has to do, is to maintain the life that you have, or make it better. That’s what you should look for in trying to make your decision which is better. So, what I’m going to do is, uh, talk about a list of things that we’ve been up to. Initally, this will be the stuff that we’ve done collectively.

As a group, we have not raised taxes in several years. The reason why there’s been a rise in the property tax is because the property values have gone up. And that’s according to the tax digest. But we have not raised taxes. [inaudible] We’ve improved employee benefits. Many streets have been paved, and the number of streetlights—streetlights are still going up to improve safety. [inaudible] So that’s a pretty, pretty big deal. We’ve put, I think, $50,000 into an account to, you know, to add lights. Robberies are down 30%, burglaries are down 43% and aggravated assaults are down 24% in the last two years.

Our reserve, which is like a savings account, is at $6 million. It's never been that high. There’s some concern with Delta and, uh, they have not paid a gas tax in several years, so the state made us hold for, of course, a couple of years, but we're still going to have that in reserve to make sure that we're good. So we've done that without raising taxes. I’m gonna keep saying that.

We supported a $50,000 grant to Keep Riverdale Beautiful. A lot of people talking about trash and all that, but we got a grant. And if you out there and look behind the Kroger on that wall, at the tire program at wall, there was a young man this weekend that was painting that area [inaudible]. So that's a part of that grant, it’s a part of Keep America Beautiful. But we got a $50,000 grant to keep Riverdale beautiful. Um, the bigger thing, we're working right now through, we've already secured a $100,000 grant to attract for down payment assistance for the police.

PAT PULLAR: Thank you. [inaudible].

KENNY RUFFINS: Remember that one.

RODNEY LAWRENCE: Good evening, everybody. My name is Rodney Lawrence. I'm a little nervous though, but I just want to uh, appreciate the opportunity to give me given to reach the people of Riverdale and share my opinion with the public. So I'm not a [inaudible] officer, I'm hoping to be an officer. So the only thing I can tell you about my involvement and my desire to be a candidate, to be elected to council, so I'll tell you a little bit about myself.

I was born in Georgia. I am a native of Georgia. I lived in Riverdale for 20 years. Uh, I'm married, been married 20 years and I have a son and daughter. Um, my son, he just went off to college at Georgia Southern, and my daughter goes to school in Clayton County at [inaudible]. Uh, I want to represent the city of Riverdale as your councilman, giving the board a fresh and new perspective. I am uh, active in the community and involved within the city of Riverdale.

I have experience in serving on several boards. I was the president and vice president of the PTA and PTO at Riverdale Elementary. I have served on the school council board. And as a representative of Riverdale Elementary, Men Standing in the Gap, which was an initiative to have more positive male role models in the lives of Clayton County students. I have also served at three years on the City of Riverdale Ethics Board as a community servant. This is something that was initiated by Kenny Ruffin. And so I got involved in coming to the meetings and I learned a lot about how the city and the council run.

Um, my background is advocating for children and that has afforded me the opportunity to come [inaudible] the first national volunteer of the year by All Pro Dad and board [inaudible] And I'm also voted Georgia Association Young Mature African of the Year. Uh, my vision is to make the city of Riverdale the best city in Clayton County, if not the best in Georgia, where people want to visit, start a business, shop and raise their family. And thank you for letting me speak. [Applause]

EVELYN WYNN-DIXON: Well, good afternoon, everybody. As you can see, I don't need a mic.[laughter] [inaudible] But what I've done and what my vision for the city has been has come to fruition. And the main thing is that I let God be my lead. I let him order my steps. And as my wonderful pastor has taught me, Pastor [inaudible] is to not let no Goliath take your neck. And don't let no devil distract me because that way you get destroyed. So I walk in the presence of the Lord. And I'm gonna be very brief, because what I've done is in my heart and in my mind.

My thing was, let's get families together. get somebody who was in thought. You have a lot of events over there reading, dancing, SATs and college day, and all of those things, and scholarship. But the main thing here, you know, the city don't have to look like it's ugly 'cause we on this side of the airport. Who say we have to live like that? So we have an environmental court. You don't clean up, after three times, come to court. Pay a fine. I think you'll clean up then.

The next thing we approved, we got approved, a brand new fire department, so that they can be really, really happy about coming to work. And not only that, I believe in working with the citizens, the seniors partnered with the Board of Education. I'm on the GRTA board, appointed by the governor. We have so many things. I have a scholarship fund where I raise the money. That ain't the city's money. I raise the money and I give out scholarships to all 10 schools. That's not even in my region.

The next thing we approved, we got approved, a brand new fire department, so that they can be really, really happy about coming to work. And not only that, I believe in working with the citizens, the seniors partnered with the Board of Education. I'm on the GRTA board, appointed by the governor. We have so many things. I have a scholarship fund where I raise the money. That ain't the city's money. I raise the money and I give out scholarships to all 10 schools. That's not even in my region.

I have an open-door policy, so we have a list of people who call that's in trouble. For people who are in trouble. [inaudible], but I'm trying to keep up with that. But it's so much stuff that they got, the lights in the neighborhood, Highway 85 with so many fatalities--

PAT PULLAR: Thank you.

EVELYN WYNN-DIXON: That's it. [Applause]

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