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Thomas cites activism in bid for mayor

Thomas cites activism in bid for mayor

Thomas cites activism in bid for mayor

Bill Thomas

Editor's note: This is the last in a series profiling the four candidates for the Statesboro mayor's office.

As a private citizen, Bill Thomas has made himself a staple at City Hall in recent years, and a frequent, opinionated participant of public Statesboro City Council meetings.

Now, he hopes to express his thoughts in a more official capacity.

The 15-year Statesboro resident and small-business owner is seeking election to the mayor's office. He is part of a four-candidate race to be settled in a city election Tuesday, Nov. 5. Early voting began Monday.

"For the past five years I've been at the forefront of some of the city's most challenging and controversial issues. I was troubled by the decisions (leadership in Statesboro) made to hire a city manager (Shane Haynes) who had previously been terminated by two other municipalities and realized it was time for the people of Statesboro to become more involved," Thomas said. "I have always believed that people get the government they demand, and I knew it was time for strong leadership to emerge and to expose the corruption and mismanagement to the attention of the community.

"I stood on the front steps of City Hall and demanded the departure of the city manager and the council responsible for hiring him," he continued. "To do the job right requires work from within. For the last five years, I have attended City Council meetings and I regularly attend department head meetings, and am in touch with the current condition of the city and challenges we face moving forward."

Thomas, 49, has previously sought office in Statesboro, vying for the District 1 Statesboro City Council seat in 2009.

Originally from Stephens County, he earned a Business Management degree from Georgia Southern College and currently operates the privately owned Big Bad Wolf Catering business.

Thomas believes experience gained in the business realm, and as a Boy Scout, makes him the top choice for city voters.

"The qualities I bring to the office are found in the Scout Law: I am honest, loyal and trustworthy. I will work to be sure all our ordinances are applied equally to all of our citizens," he said. "Having run my own businesses, I have always understood that I was ultimately responsible for our product. In doing so, I realized our projects had to be completed under budget and delivered on time while working cooperatively beside our most valuable asset - our people. I have developed the ability to do that while serving our customers and maintaining their trust. I have the ability to see things for what they are and the vision to see what they could be if we work together, progressively. I am a creative problem solver. These abilities and skills have been developed over a lifetime of working and learning and will serve me well as the next mayor."

In past years, Thomas has served as the first full-time mascot for the Georgia Southern Eagles football team (1983-1985), been named a lifetime honorary member of Peace Officers Association of Georgia and honorary member of Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro, and sat on Georgia Southern University's Alumni Association Board.

The father of three sons counts gardening, fishing, boating, reading and shooting among some of his favorite hobbies and says his greatest personal accomplishments "are yet to come."

"I am excited by the idea that in just a couple of weeks I may be tasked with the responsibility of representing all the people of this city - not just a few, but all of the people," he said. "Statesboro will enjoy honest, open, transparent government delivered with integrity. After a lifetime of service, I've come to realize that public service is the price we pay to the space we occupy on God's earth."

Thomas said he believes many challenges lie ahead for Statesboro, including managing rising health-care costs, finding a way to raise salaries for city employees and improving the relationship between the city and county governments.

Among his first order of business, if elected, would be working to make government more transparent, he said - a process that includes digging into the past.

"Our city is just beginning to emerge from a $1,500,000 deficit caused by our current elected officials," he said.
Thomas alleged that city officials "created a hostile work environment," leading to several costly settlements with former employees.

"In the cloud of all the payments made to former employees apparently intended to entice them to leave quietly, I would like to see a GBI investigation and a forensic audit," he said.

Thomas added that he would like to see Georgia Southern students garner a larger stake in city government, possibly having a nonvoting student representative added to the body, and for the city to address landfill needs by establishing a facility within the next eight years.
The mayoral hopeful said he loves living in Statesboro and wants to see the city continue to improve in coming years.

"Statesboro has it all. Three fine postsecondary educational institutions; a pleasantly moderate climate; wonderful, friendly, naturally helpful people, and we are close enough to enjoy the coast and the mountains. Our people are wholesome; educational opportunity surrounds us, and our Norman Rockwell environment is perfect for raising strong healthy families," he said. "I want to see our city and county continue to enjoy quality, planned, beneficial growth by working cooperatively together and attracting major manufacturing companies providing well-paying, stable jobs here."

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


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