It was reported Thursday that 1,200 new voters had registered in Statesboro since Aug. 1 and an additional 1,200, or more, may be added to the city's voter rolls to participate in the Nov. 6 city council elections.
With more than 80 percent of the newly registered voters in the 18-24 age group, Shontay Jones, deputy voter registrar in Bulloch County, confirmed the source of the voter interest: “The bulk of the registration forms are coming from the voter registration drives taking place at Georgia Southern University,” she said.
Three city council seats are up for election: District 2 – incumbent Gary Lewis is opposed by Nathan Queen; District 3 – incumbent Will Britt is opposed by Harry Propes; District 5 – incumbent John Morris faces Travis Chance.
Considering in the 2003 election, less than 275 total ballots were cast in Lewis’ District 2 race, while less than 350 votes were cast in Britt’s District 3 race, the 2007 city contests are shaping up as some of the most hotly contested in a decade with the huge surge in voter registrations.
As an introduction to getting to know the candidates, the Herald sent a list of four questions out to each candidate.
Here are their responses to the questions.
1. What one thing would you like to see in Statesboro that is currently missing?
2. Does the city need an in-fill development policy?
3. What does Statesboro need to make it a better place to live?
4. Where do you see the city in 10 years?
Gary Lewis was elected to the council in 1998 and is running against Nathan Queen, a student from GSU. District 2 is situated primarily on the west side of the city. It covers everything west of College Street and run to Williams Street on the north end and Veterans Memorial Parkway to the south.
Gary Lewis, incumbent
- Age: 57
- Years in District: 9
- Occupation: Barber and stylist
- Years in Occupation: 27
- High school: William James HS
- Hobbies: Music, sports and helping people.
- Greatest accomplishments: Naming a street Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd,; helping Habitat for Humanity; completing all the required courses for the Georgia Municipal Association.
Answers to questions
1.) I would like to see more industry attracted to the area.
2.) Our planning and zoning commission addresses these issues by working with developers and encouraging them to develop the older properties in town.
3.) The city needs a better fire protection plan and emergency EMS plan. I’d also like to see another mall, some public transportation and a community policy for the kids.
4.) I see the city in 10 years as one of the fastest growing cities in South Georgia, especially with the help of Georgia Southern University. I consider our city a “city on the move” and moving in the right direction.
- Age: 26
- Years in District: 2
- Occupation: GSU student
- High School: Ringgold HS, Ringgold, GA
- Hobbies: Golf, softball, riding motorcycles, restoring automobiles and spending time with my wife
- Greatest accomplishment: Marrying my best friend and the love of my life, Jennifer.
Answers to questions
1.) A civic/convention center to host larger events in the community (i.e. a gun and knife show, a statewide basketball or wrestling tournament for high schools etc.)
2.) The planning and zoning office currently has rules and regulations that guide in-fill development, but I believe if any changes need to be made, they could be done on a case-by-case basis.
3.) Youth in Statesboro need more access to community based programs, such as after-school activities, that offer a safe environment to keep kids active, constantly learning and have positive mentors and role models. For example, reopening the community center and pool in District 2 could be a starting point.
4) First, I would like to see our city as a single, undivided community where the university and the city work together to promote a greater whole – socially, economically and spiritually. I envision a thriving business district and a civic/convention center as a base for a constantly forward thinking community development board. Lastly, I would like to see Statesboro stay true to its southern hospitality and values while still being open to growth and change to benefit our future generations.
Will Britt was elected to the council in 2003 and is running Harry Propes, a healthcare consultant. District 3 is situated in the center of the city and is bordered by Savannah Ave. on the north, College Street on the west, goes as far east as Gentilly Road and contains the GSU campus to the south.
Will Britt, incumbent
- Age: 32
- Years in District: 13
- Occupation: Property manager, small business owner and business consultant
- Years in Occupation: 17
- High School: Statesboro High School
- Hobbies: Movies, biking, running, playing tennis and Ultimate frisbee, play with Abby and Sydney (dogs), traveling with wife, Tara.
- Greatest accomplishments: Becoming an Eagle Scout and winning the 2003 city council seat would tie for second to actually convincing Dr. Tara Britt to go out on a date with me in 1996.
Answers to questions
1.) Open and honest government that fairly supports both local businesses and the customers that drive the economy.
2.) We have zoning policies in place now that regulate new development and procedures for change. Tremendous redevelopment is occurring in our city both downtown and on the perimeter. We have taken steps to monitor density and future development. Neighborhoods are vital to community development harmony. Protecting that asset is very important. In addition, I would like to see an exterior building materials policy adopted. Policies that regulate the exterior construction, landscaping, buffers, traffic and overall appearance are more important to me than parking lots or density.
3.) Statesboro needs the opportunity for structured growth unencumbered from those afraid of change. The city would also benefit from a continuation of the outstanding green space movement that we have recently had with the Willie McTell Trail and upcoming greenway, such as dog parks, more passive parks, skate parks, more sidewalks, any promotion of neighborhood activities.
4.) If personal agendas are set aside and the quiet majority speaks a little more, I envision a great community where people learn to live, work and play for the good of the community as a whole. A town where development accommodates growth, the market dictates policy, choices are offered to businesses, downtown Statesboro as a Georgia destination and punishment is not as important as safety and education would be amazing to see. We can dream about GSU, Bulloch County BOE, Statesboro and the County working together to promote tourism, achieve common goals, effectively plan the community calendar, construct new and exciting facilities, form infrastructure partnerships and encourage excellence in education.@Subhead:District 5
Harry “Bubba” Propes Jr.
- Age: 45
- Years in District: 4
- Occupation: Professional health care consultant, Pfizer Inc.
- Years in Occupation: 20
- High School: Gainesville HS, Gainesville, Ga.
- Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, golf, coaching, traveling, classic cars
- Greatest accomplishment: My three boys! Elliott, 12, Blitch, 10, and Joseph, 8.
Answers to questions
1.) City invoked incentives that would attract downtown businesses and further downtown development.
2.) I think we have the infrastructure downtown to bring in the development it needs. We just haven’t given any incentives to anyone as far as coming into the downtown areas - merchants or what not. Luckily, the people that have come downtown have spent their own money. There’s plenty of incentives that we could come up with - through the Downtown Development Authority or the State of Georgia - like low-cost loans. I’d rather keep everything in the city. I’m not especially keen on expanding the city limits to include something. I’m not a huge proponent of that right now, I’d rather take care of what we got here first.
3.) We have very little “green space.” We need natural parks and a direct plan to preserve and enhance our historic neighborhoods.
4.) If we energetically and strategically open the door to growth, Statesboro will be a major South Georgia educational, cultural, retail and tourist hub.
John Morris was elected to the council in 2001 and is running against Travis Chance, a local business owner. District 5 is situated primarily to the east. It is bordered to the north by East Main, contains most of the neighborhoods on either side of East Highway 80 and runs south to capture the neighborhood near the water treatment plant.
- Age: 29
- Years in District: 7
- Occupation: Owner of T.L. Chance Inc. (insurance) and Chance Brothers Hauling
- Years in Occupation: 3
- High School: 1996
- Hobbies: Golf, hunting, fishing, gym, skeet shooting, movies, and spending time with my girlfriend, Shannon, and paying with my dog, Cooper.
- Greatest accomplishment: Graduating from Georgia Southern university and being promoted to State Manager with OneSource.
Answers to questions
1.) Government that supports and embraces the economic growth and development of Statesboro as a community.
2.) If you would like an honest answer from me, here it goes. I am not completely sure of what an in-fill development policy actually is, however, I am willing to learn. I know that coming into this election, I may not know all of the laws and ordinances of Statesboro, Georgia, but I am here to promise that I am willing to learn.
3.) I feel that Statesboro need to welcome the opportunity of growth and change.
4.) I see Statesboro for what it could be. This could be a thriving community, that will have maintained the hometown values that have made every citizen fall in love with this great place that we call HOME. Statesboro has the ability to be a model community for others to follow, but some changes need to be made to ensure that it will be.
John Morris, incumbent
-Years in District: 5
-Occupation: Business owner – Southeastern Tub & Tile Inc.
-Years in Occupation: 20
-High School: Statesboro
-Hobbies: Spending time with my wife and three children, church activities, hunting and fishing.
-Greatest accomplishment: Having a happy and healthy marriage for 21 years and counting!
Answers to questions
1.) I would like to see the north quadrant of the bypass completed.
2.) In-fill development happens when the local economy is flourishing. As a result, old land and buildings are redeveloped into new businesses. This is something that is already happening in Statesboro in some locations. We, as a city, can work together with developers to create properties that will most benefit and prosper in Statesboro as a whole.
3). I have had the privilege of living in Statesboro my entire life and cannot imagine anywhere better to live, raise a family and serve my community. However, there is always room for the betterment of any city and Statesboro is no exception. The new industries that are an obvious part of our growth, such as various restaurant and hotel chains are definitely positive for our economy as well as for our citizens. This growth absolutely make Statesboro a better place to live. Although our economy is thriving, we are blessed at the same time to have the closeness and warmth that is found in a community whose citizens know one another on a more personal level and care deeply about its future.
4.) I see a city that is continuing to flourish and thrive as it has done over the past 10 years or so. Statesboro was named a City of Excellence in the State of Georgia which is something that we should all be proud of because of the criteria that has to be met in order to achieve such a title. I believe this city is continuously making great strides in the area of progress towards welcoming new businesses as well as striving to make Statesboro a great college community – one that any parent would be proud to have their children be a part of. I also see Statesboro as a direct reflection of our citizens because of the local government that the citizens have elected.