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Candidates share visions for city

Candidates share visions for city

Candidates share visions for city

Incumbent mayor Joe Brannen, far left...


With two weeks remaining until voters choose Statesboro's next mayor, all four candidates shared a stage Tuesday night to spread their messages to an attending and viewing audience.

Incumbent Mayor Joe Brannen and challengers Jonathan McCollar, Jan Moore and Bill Thomas gathered to discuss issues and meet with citizens during a mayoral forum hosted by downtown Statesboro's Averitt Center for the Arts.

The forum was the second of two held this month — sponsored by the Statesboro Herald and Hodges-Moore Funeral Home — and was televised live by Northland Cable.

About 75 people attended to hear candidates share opinions regarding jobs, crime and the current state of local city government.

The incumbent mayor took the opportunity, as he has done throughout the campaign season, to commend the ongoing efforts of city staff and elected officials.

He believes the city is continuously moving in a positive direction, with him serving as facilitator and leader.

Brannen, 74, is a retired branch manager for a consumer finance company and special assets officer for a local bank. Prior to a term as mayor, he served District 4 on Statesboro City Council after being elected in 1998.

Brannen said he is optimistic for future development along a struggling South Main Street, confident the city can continue to address crime by adding new officers and resources, and that current city leaders are serving as admirable stewards of taxpayer dollars.

"We are constantly looking to find what else can be cut. We always examine our expenditures, and again have a balanced budget," he said. "We are slowly building our reserves and I feel like we are doing a good job."

As he did in a forum earlier this month, McCollar emphasized economic development. He proposed programs to train young people to be work ready, and new business incubators downtown.

McCollar, 39, is a senior community manager for the American Cancer Society and a Realtor. He previously served as chairman of the Bulloch County Democratic Party.

He believes competent and ready employees will attract new business and new jobs to Statesboro.

"We have the opportunity here. We have a skilled technical college in Ogeechee Tech, a great university in Georgia Southern, and East Georgia (State) College is growing every year," McCollar said. "We have to make sure we utilize all of the tools that we have on our hands so we can train individuals here for the jobs that will come in the future. We need to transition people from the couch into the workforce, to expand our tax base and provide better services."

Citing close business relationships throughout the community, Moore said she could immediately step in as a "prominent, energetic, and fresh face" as Statesboro mayor, who is cooperative, dedicated, and with a "vision for the city's future." She said she is very concerned about, and intent on addressing, an increasing amount of crime on and around the Georgia Southern University campus.

Moore, 51, is the business editor for the Statesboro Herald and behavior intervention specialist/psychologist for the Bulloch County Board of Education. She is seeking office for the first time.

As she has throughout her campaign, Moore advocated a major effort to revitalize downtown — starting with South Main Street corridor — as a means to attract new citizens, new businesses, and new tax revenue to the city.

"I have a passion and love for this community and I see what we could be. I want to strengthen the ongoing revitalization of our downtown. There is no reason why the corridor that comes into Statesboro shouldn't be as beautiful as the entrance to Georgia Southern's campus," she said. "I think revitalization — with the help of all stakeholders coming on board — is a key point in bringing in new industry."

Thomas said attending numerous City Council meetings and department head meetings during the last several years has shown him that "the city is facing many challenges — including mismanagement of billing — that need to be addressed by a strong leader."

Thomas, 49, is a local business owner. He previously sought office in 2009, vying for the District 1 Statesboro City Council seat.

Citing multiple settlements given to ousted employees several years ago, Thomas said he believes city officials have done a poor job of managing taxpayer money.

"I would say the city has not been a good steward. The city has a shameful record of caring for taxpayer money," he said. "I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the current administration."

During a segment of the forum reserved for candidates to introduce themselves, Thomas chose instead to levy complaints he has against the Statesboro Herald.

Tuesday's forum was recorded, and will be available in its entirety for viewing on statesboroherald.com.

Early voting for the city election is currently open to registered voters at the Bulloch County Courthouse.
The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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

 

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