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Boyum, Dabbs state their cases for City Council seat

Boyum, Dabbs state their cases for City Council seat

Boyum, Dabbs state their cases for City Council seat

Incumbent District 1 City Councilman ...


Two candidates for Statesboro’s District 1 City Council seat shared ideas and concerns Tuesday night during a forum hosted by the Statesboro Herald.

The candidate forum preceded a mayoral forum, both of which were co-hosted by the Statesboro Herald and the Averitt Center for the Arts, held in the Emma Kelly Theater.

Incumbent Phil Boyum faced challenger Kelly Dabbs as each answered questions regarding city issues.

Statesboro Herald President Joe McGlamery selected from questions from Herald staff or people in the audience.

Each candidate had the opportunity to introduce himself during opening statements.

Boyum said voters in District 1 should re-elect him, and he cited accomplishments during his first term as well as having earned knowledge of city operations during a time he covered the city government when he worked as a reporter for the Statesboro Herald.

Dabbs, a Statesboro native, cited business experience and degrees as well as a desire to improve city government as reasons why he is the better choice.

He said someone asked, upon learning he intended to run for office, “Why do you want to get involved in that mess up there?” referring to Statesboro’s government. That question is an indication of public perception about the city that needs to be changed, he said.

As a taxpaying homeowner, he said, “I think I can represent this district better than it is being done.”
McGlamery asked the candidates how they feel about the city’s water system and whether it can handle growth facing the city population and business district.

Boyum expressed confidence in Water/Wastewater Director Wayne Johnson’s experience of more than 30 years.
Statesboro’s water system can handle growth, with a 10 million gallon permit that isn’t anywhere near it’s maximum use, Boyum said.  He added that new water lines and upgraded systems, along with a remote billing system, have the city-well prepared.

Dabbs said he is satisfied with the city’s water system capacity, but believes the city would benefit from giving new large businesses breaks on water fees.

“The problem is, new business are being charged to bring employment to the area,” he said. While “people in charge are very competent,” more can be done to entice businesses.

McGlamery asked how each candidate feels about the Statesboro City Council investing money to improve the Georgia Southern University City Campus downtown.

“I use the (City Campus) marketing department myself,” Dabbs said. The city campus brings a great deal of resources to downtown, but many citizens aren’t aware of them or how to use them. More needs to be done to connect citizens with the city campus, he said.

Boyum referred to a $1.1 million grant expected to be officially announced soon that is geared toward expanding the city campus, as well as renovating a building near Statesboro’s City Hall to house a “business incubator” that will utilize resources offered by the city campus. Several business agencies “will have a presence” in the project “to help grow business” in Statesboro, he said.

The relationship between the city of Statesboro and Bulloch County governments was the topic of the next question.
Referring to a recent agreement for fire services between the two governments, Boyum said: “We used to have a one- or two-year (fire service) agreement and now we have a five-year agreement. I believe we are moving in the right direction.”

There still exists some friction between the two, but “the county folks are looking after the county and the city folks are looking after the city,” and that is normal, he said. “We’re certainly on the right track.”

Dabbs said, “We could always use some more consensus between the two groups.” The two work well together but could do more to entice new business to the area. “I think the city needs to be more business-friendly.”

Neither candidate feels Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds should be used to expand the existing Mainstreet Statesboro Farmers Market downtown.

“I don’t know if that would be (considered) a betterment to the city,” Dabbs said, questioning the validity of using SPLOST for such a project.

Boyum pointed out that SPLOST funds legally are to be used solely for capital improvements, but said funds would be better used for a multipurpose facility that could be used on weekends for the farmer’s market.

In closing statements, Dabbs said: “I am not a politician by any means, but a businessman.”

He said growth brings problems the city must face and deal with, and he believes his business experience will lend itself to that end.

“I have the … background to handle” city issues, and “I am committed to the community,” he said. “We have a wonderful, warm and friendly town but could use more employment opportunities. There are a lot of things we need to do in the city.”

Boyum said voters were looking for a change when they elected him last time, and said after one year on the job, “My actions speak louder than words.”

He said he is a candidate who “fights for a level playing field and doesn’t play favorites.”

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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