Venus Mack, candidate for Statesboro City Council in District 3, says she wants to be the kind of councilperson who will fight for constituents’ needs and listen to small business owners’ concerns.
A first-time candidate for public office, she is a challenger to incumbent Councilman Jeff Yawn. Each of the three council seats up for election this year – Districts 2, 3 and 5 – has a two-candidate race in the Nov. 5 city election.
“I’m seeking election because I think that Statesboro needs a change,” Mack said. “Statesboro is changing, and I think that the residents should expect more from their city councilpersons. I think that they should know their city councilperson, they should be able to get in contact with that person and that person should fight for them.”
Of course, all candidates are being asked why they are running, and also why voters should choose them.
“I’ll bring a unique perspective to City Council,” Mack said. “I’m a woman, a wife, a business owner, and I’m dedicated to the city of Statesboro and I want the best for this city.”
Now 37, she has been a Statesboro resident for seven years but had extended family here all along. Her grandparents, Eloise Love Mack and Robert Mack, had moved from Statesboro to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was born. She and her husband, Tariq Hall, both live here now, and she has two children and he has three.
A hair stylist and licensed cosmetologist, Mack owns Glam Bar Salon, which she now operates inside Kingdom Cuts Barbershop on East Main Street after previously having a separate location. She has worked as a stylist about 15 years and has been in business here for five.
“I am going to advocate for small business because sometimes I think the City Council is insensitive to business owners, so I am going to fight for all the small business owners,” she said. “I have had a run-in with City Council before with my business and I just think that on the council there should be someone who owns a business who will be able to fight for the business owners.”
When Mack first arrived in Statesboro she tried to open her salon in a small building that had been a convenience store, once operated by her great-grandparents, in a residential area. But she was denied zoning permission despite there being other businesses in the neighborhood, she said.
Both District 3 candidates were asked about public safety, public transit, parks and recreation and the Creek on the Blue Mile project. The public safety question was whether Statesboro is a safe community and what, if anything, the city should do to make it safer.
“I think that Statesboro can be a safe place,” Mack said. “There has been a lot of violence that has gone on in the last couple of years, and I think what they can do may be a stronger police presence.”
Just seeing police moving around in the community may prompt people to act the way they should, she said.
“But I think that we need to have more community meetings and definitely need to get the youth involved, so that they can have positive things to do so that they won’t fall into the hands of the violence and crime,” she said.
Bulloch County’s five-year special sales tax for transportation, approved by voters in 2018, includes $450,000 for public transit in Statesboro. Last week city staff recommended one of four options for a bus system from a feasibility study consultants completed last spring.
To implement the plan, the city will need federal grant assistance both for the initial equipment and annual operations.
Mack said she thinks a transit system would be great for Statesboro and will advocate for it.
“Back in Philadelphia we had several transportation systems, and when I moved here and there was none, I was like, ‘What in the world?’” she said. “So I think that it would be great for Statesboro and it will open it up to a lot of new things. People will be able to get to jobs better, be able to do recreational things.”
Mack said she thinks the city should be involved in the planning for parks and recreation because it is “a big part of the community.” The Statesboro-Bulloch Parks and Recreation Department is county-operated, but under a long-term service delivery strategy agreement with the city.
Statesboro’s youth “need clean parks, places to go,” she said, referring back to her answer on public safety and the need for activities.
“Oh, I’m so excited about that,” Mack said of the Creek on the Blue Mile plan. “I can’t wait to see what’s going to come from that, all of the new businesses, all of the things that the residents will be able to do, and then once the transportation is going you can ride transportation to the Blue Mile.”
3 women running
After the initial interview, she called back.
“I just wanted to add that this will be the first time a woman will ever have a seat on the City Council, and I think that will be something unique and give some diversity to the board,” Mack said.
In fact, all three challengers this year are women. All three incumbents are men. A woman has never been elected to a district seat on Statesboro City Council, even during the 2014 through 2017 term of former Mayor Jan Moore, Statesboro’s first female mayor.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.