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Residents identify jobs, crime as issues in city races

Forum Tuesday presents another opportunity

Residents identify jobs, crime as issues in city races

Residents identify jobs, crime as issues in city races

Candidates for mayor, clockwise from ...

When the six candidates for contested seats in Statesboro's city government appeared at the Democratic Party's Pancakes & Politics, residents asked personal questions about jobs and crime.

All city offices are nonpartisan. But the Democratic Party of Bulloch County has hosted such a breakfast for the past several years. With the city election coming Nov. 5, and early voting already underway, organizers invited the candidates, who made brief remarks and took some questions. As shown by a sign-in sheet, 62 people dropped by Saturday at the community center in Luetta Moore Park.

Johnson Street resident Melissa Mincey framed one concern in very personal terms.

"We had a drive-by shooting the other night when we were in the bed asleep, and we could have gotten killed," Mincey said. "The police never did catch the people."

This happened on a Sunday night about three weeks earlier, she said. No injuries were reported, but Mincey said bullets hit someone's car nearby.

Candidates had already mentioned job creation and attracting industry in their opening remarks when Steve Green, 16, personalized the issue. Green attends Portal High School but lives in Statesboro. He is Youth Division vice president for the Bulloch County Branch of the NAACP.

"When I graduate from high school, I want to go to school to be a bio-technician," Green said. "After I graduate from Georgia Southern, what is keeping us college students in Statesboro? Because there are not jobs in Statesboro, we have to go to Atlanta and the big area cities to actually live."

The four mayoral candidates — current Mayor Joe Brannen and challengers Jonathan McCollar, Jan Moore and Bill Thomas — all made opening remarks and responded to at least some of the follow-up questions. So did the City Council candidates in District 1, incumbent Phil Boyum and challenger Kelly Dabbs.

Voters will have an opportunity to hear more from these candidates at a forum Tuesday in the Emma Kelly Theater. Hosted by the Statesboro Herald, Northland Cable and the Averitt Center for the Arts, the event begins with a meet-and-greet at 6:30 p.m. followed by the sit-down forum at 7 p.m.

This will be the second forum for the mayoral candidates, with the District 1 candidates added this time. It will be shown live on and Northland Cable Channel 2 starting at 7 p.m.

Saturday's Pancakes & Politics reflected what the Democratic Party of Bulloch County sees as its responsibility to educate local residents for all types of elections, local party Chairman Bill Herring said.

"That was the purpose of this breakfast, to try to encourage people in Statesboro that are focused and interested in the city election to come and hear candidates speak in a forum that perhaps was more inviting to them than some of the other opportunities, involving debates and so forth," Herring said. "This was a much more informal medium."

At the close of the meeting, Jim Nichols, the program chairman for the local Democrats, made a get-out-the-vote appeal.

"In the next few weeks, make sure you talk to everyone you know and get the vote out," Nichols said. "We need people to vote. Nothing that we say here, nothing that we feel here, helps if people don't vote."

Party Treasurer Alvie Coes, the emcee for the breakfast, announced that Democrats also will host an information forum on the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," at 10 a.m. Nov. 16 in the Honey Bowen Building, 1 Max Lockwood Drive.

Paul Ferguson, Georgia Southern University's health services director, will give the main presentation at the health-care forum. A spokesman for Enroll America, Riley Wells, and a navigator — one of the people certified to assist people with enrolling in health coverage — will also attend to answer questions, Herring said.


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