Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore and the two City Council members up for election this year, Phil Boyum in District 1 and John Riggs in District 4, all have said they plan to seek re-election.
Odd-numbered years give voters a break from regular elections for federal, state and county offices, but bring nonpartisan city elections in Georgia. The statewide qualifying period for candidates will be Aug. 21-25 for the municipal elections Nov. 7. The council set Statesboro’s qualifying fees at the start of the year. Based on 3 percent of the pay for each position, the fees are $560 for mayoral candidates and $227 for the council seats.
“I will be running for re-election this fall,” Moore confirmed in an email. “We have accomplished so much as a city over the last three years, and I am very excited about the foundation we now have to build upon.”
A Statesboro native who had not held previous public office, Moore emerged victorious from a close runoff in the 2013 mayoral race, which originally drew four candidates. The first woman elected mayor of Statesboro since its naming in 1803 and incorporation in 1866, she took office in January 2014.
“From software conversions and streamlining of operations internally to positive initiatives that will affect our community for decades to come, we are entering a phase of prosperity and development not seen in years,” Moore’s 2017 statement announcing her re-election intent continued.
Early in her term, the council fired a city manager, and after two years with an interim manager hired a new manager last year. The city’s insurer settled a lawsuit related to the firing. In the past three years, Statesboro has seen investigations into actions by two former council members who left office at the end of 2015 and controversy related to the city’s enforcement of alcoholic beverages laws and regulations.
But Moore and current council members replaced the city alcohol ordinance and have revised other ordinances. She has emphasized reform efforts and has noted that the controversies over alcohol enforcement date from practices that were in place before she was elected.
In her emailed statement, Moore did not mention any of these things, but referred to cooperation with the Bulloch County government and Georgia Southern University.
“The city, county, and university are working so well together now that anything is possible, and I truly believe that. This will be a period in our history in which no one is left behind, and I will humbly ask voters to allow me to continue to be an integral part of it. Let’s go Statesboro, and be all that we can be,” Moore concluded.
In her other job, Moore is vice president of economic development for Ogeechee Technical College.
Boyum to run
Phil Boyum was first elected in a 2012 special election to complete an unexpired term, and then won a full term in the November 2013 regular election. He was one of several candidates in the first race and faced a challenger in the second.
“I have every intention of running again,” Boyum said in a phone interview about two weeks ago.
“Over the last five years, I think we have made tremendous progress in the city,” he said. “We have had some obstacles to overcome that we’ve done a great job of overcoming, and we’ve looked to the future to focus on the growth of the community and economic opportunities for as wide a variety of people in our community as we can.”
He mentioned Georgia Southern’s City Campus and the FabLab and Innovation Incubator there, developed with cooperation from the city, and the university’s Shooting Sports Center and the Blue Mile plan for the redevelopment of South Main Street. This last project has been developed by a community committee and is a finalist contending for a $1 million to $3 million corporate funding award in the America’s Best Communities competition.
“I think Statesboro is moving in a great direction right now and I want to be a part of continuing that momentum,” Boyum said.
Boyum is general manager of SpringHill Suites, Statesboro.
Riggs will too
John Riggs was first elected in 2009, took office in January 2010, and was re-elected in 2013.
“Right now I absolutely do plan on running again,” he said. “I have some unfinished business that I want to get taken care of before I leave office.”
Phased-in raises extending to a third fiscal year for city employees are one priority Riggs said he wants to see completed.
A compensation study City Council ordered last year at the request of department heads resulted in a new schedule of wages and salaries for city employees. The council recently approved a second phase of raises designed to bring employees’ pay up to the 55th percentile in comparison with the similar-size cities and other governmental organizations that Evergreen Solutions LLC included in the study.
“I would like to see them get more than what the three-year plan is calling for because I think our employees have waited far long enough to start making more money, and they’re way behind where I think they should be,” Riggs said. “I just want to keep fighting to see that they get better pay.”
Another thing he wants to finish, he said, is finding a solution for how a tract of land near his home in the Woodlawn neighborhood is developed. Property of the Benson family, the site on Fair Road was previously proposed for a gas station and four-story hotel, but City Council denied a zoning change in February 2015 after objections from Woodlawn residents and supporters of the Georgia Southern Botanical Garden.
Riggs said he wants to see the Benson tract developed in a way that is both profitable for its owners and good for the university and his neighbors, who don’t want light or noise pollution or increased traffic.
“At the rate it’s going it may take another two or three years before we find the right project,” Riggs said earlier this month.
He owns and operates a real estate appraisal business, Riggs Appraisals, as he has done for 17 years.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.