This is the first of a series of questionnaire articles about Statesboro's three mayoral candidates. They answered questions by email.
As the only first-time candidate in Statesboro's Nov. 7 mayoral election, John Grotheer keeps it from being a rerun. As a retiree, he is also the one candidate asserting that he would work full-time as mayor.
The 2013 race ended in a runoff between Jan Moore, now the incumbent mayor, and Jonathan McCollar, who is also challenging Moore this year.
Grotheer became a Statesboro resident in early 2014, after that election was concluded. He has not served in elected office but has 20-plus years of experience as a professional working for other city and county governments. He served 13 years with the city of Covington as its city clerk and finance director. More recently, before retiring in July, he was finance director for the Bryan County government, based in Pembroke, for eight years and served one month as interim county administrator.
Statesboro Herald: What do you see as the biggest issue facing Statesboro at this time and how do you propose to address it?
Grotheer: "One of the major issues confronting the city of Statesboro is how to plan for future growth and the huge demands it places on the city's infrastructure and resources. I believe the city should lead the collaboration efforts among the city, county, Georgia Southern University and the Board of Education on planning issues. It should promote sustainable quality growth including wise management of our infrastructure, natural resources, education, recreation and economic development.
"The city should also encourage and protect single-family neighborhood development. Mixed-use development should be encouraged which supports a walkable and viable downtown. The downtown is coming back but needs more activity to help maintain its momentum. More sidewalks and safe bicycling facilities such as bike lanes, paths and multiuse trails should be installed. Additionally, the city should provide incentives for attracting new businesses and grocery store alternatives.
"Residents of Statesboro are proud of the downtown, but opportunities also exist through the redevelopment of old shopping centers and warehouses to add more restaurants, entertainment, etc.
"The city's parks and recreation programs are an asset and should be adequately funded to provide an outstanding quality of life for adults, children, seniors and families alike. Consideration should be given to neighborhood parks particularly those in the low-income areas that have become rundown.
"Finally, all residents have a right to quality housing regardless of socioeconomic standing and there should be more affordable housing options for low-income families."
Statesboro Herald: What relevant experiences, knowledge and achievements do you bring, and how have those uniquely prepared you for service as mayor?
Grotheer: "For the past 20 years, I have worked in city and county government as a city clerk, finance director, and interim county administrator. My background and experience includes managing a full-service city budget of $120 million, approximately twice the size of Statesboro.
"In addition, my responsibilities included financial administration, customer service, utility billing, and procurement. This required working with citizens and business leaders as well as state and local government officials at various agencies. ...
"During my years of service with the city of Covington, I was fortunate to have worked on the attainment of the Georgia Municipal Association's distinguished City of Ethics Award and City of Excellence Award. In addition, I authored the city's application for the National Civic League's All-America City Award, and Covington was selected as a finalist to compete in Anaheim, California.
"I am genuinely committed to serving all the citizens of Statesboro full-time and believe my background in city and county government has prepared me to serve as your next mayor. If given the opportunity, I will give you my commitment to listen and be your voice as we all work together to plan for a better future."
Grotheer's college degrees include a Master of Business Administration from Troy University, a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Savannah State University and an associate degree from Armstrong State University. He also attained a Certificate of Local Government Management from the University of Georgia.
He and his wife, Diane Drew-Grotheer, Ph.D., moved to Statesboro in February 2014.
Statesboro Herald: Do you see Statesboro residents, businesses or visitors as being in need of more or improved services? How would you go about balancing demands for services with responsibility to taxpayers?
Grotheer: "The city provides a variety of traditional services such as police, fire, public works, natural gas and water and sewer to its citizens. As the city and GSU continue to grow, there will be a huge demand for increased services and a strain on the city's resources and infrastructure.
"The city currently has an excellent public safety department but will need to adequately fund the department while maintaining competitive salaries to attract and retain highly qualified personnel. Citizens relocating to the area will have high expectations and will expect their issues and complaints to be resolved in a professional, courteous and expeditious manner.
"I believe the mayor and council should be fiscally responsible and accountable to the taxpayers. The city's budget should, therefore, reflect the priorities of the community that are established with input from all the citizens.
Finally, in my opinion, the city of Statesboro should be open, transparent and responsive to achieve the goals, values and vision of the entire community."
Tuesday, Oct. 10, is the deadline for Statesboro residents not already registered to vote to register before the Nov. 7 election.
Early voting will be possible 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 16 through Nov. 3, in the Bulloch County elections office annex at 113 North Main St.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.