This is part of a series of questionnaire articles about Statesboro’s three mayoral candidates. They answered questions by email.
Jonathan McCollar, who ran for mayor in 2013 and advanced to a runoff, is back as a candidate and identifies poverty, with crime and other problems it exacerbates, as Statesboro’s greatest challenge.
His runoff opponent in December 2013 was Jan Moore, who won with 980 votes to McCollar’s 887. Now in her fourth year as mayor, Moore is seeking re-election and has two challengers, McCollar and John Grotheer, in the Nov. 7 nonpartisan city election. Early voting begins Monday.
McCollar: “The biggest issue facing the city of the Statesboro is systemic generational poverty and the ill symptoms that are associated with it. The poverty rate in Statesboro is near 50 percent. Most of the people behind that number are children.
“It is unquestionable that crime ranks high among the effects of poverty, high unemployment, economic duress on the city and an overburdened tax base. These issues left unaddressed lead to chronic, long lasting, generational poverty. In fact, if there were a textbook model of the effects of systemic generational poverty on a city, Statesboro could be it.
“I believe that we have arrived at this moment because we have continuously gone to the same bucket of ideas looking for different results. Statesboro has grown into a diverse metropolitan. We must begin to incorporate creative and innovative solutions to the problems we face.
“We must aggressively go after alternative funding sources to aid in the eradication of poverty and work to bring more jobs into our community that will address the income inequality that has left too many families behind. We must build a local economy where no one has to work more than one full-time job to make ends meet. We have to incorporate youth development, and also strengthen our workforce development efforts.
“These measures will aid in the permanent reduction of crime and the realization of a community where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to thrive. I believe that we can create a fair thriving economy that lifts families out of poverty and fosters prosperity.”
McCollar attained a Master of Public Administration degree, as well as bachelor’s degree with a major in history, at Georgia Southern University.
He works as assistant campus director of Armstrong State University’s Liberty Center, the Hinesville facility slated to become Georgia Southern’s Liberty campus with the pending consolidation.
Born in Statesboro, McCollar has lived here all his life. He and his wife, Adrianne McCollar, are bringing up their five school-age children here.
Statesboro Herald: What relevant experiences, knowledge and achievements do you bring, and how have those uniquely prepared you for service as mayor?
McCollar: “I have been uniquely prepared to provide the leadership that the city of Statesboro needs for this new millennium. First, I am a true son of the city (of Statesboro). I love this city and the people that call it home.
“My background in workforce development, K-12 and higher education, and advocacy has equipped me with a unique skill set. I am a solutionist. I am a collaborator, being a visionary, I believe in leading from the front versus being reactionary.
“My advanced degree in public administration has prepared me and has also taken me to Washington, D.C., to fight for the Workforce Investment Act which has resulted in millions of dollars for the education and training of young people throughout the nation. In fact, this funding is used by the Coastal Workforce Investment Board which funds such organizations as Paxen, Telemon and Savannah Impact. As a result, these organizations have been able to train and provide opportunity for hundreds of young people right here in our community.”
Statesboro Herald: Do you see Statesboro residents, businesses or visitors as being in need of more or improved services? What are those and how would you go about balancing demands for services with responsibility to taxpayers?
McCollar: “It is without a doubt that the city of Statesboro residents, businesses, and visitors are in need of more services. I have had to the opportunity to travel throughout this nation and learn about what other cities are doing to help improve the quality of life for their citizenry.
“It is time for the city to take the lead on youth development, small business development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. These initiatives will improve the quality of life for all in Statesboro and make Statesboro work for everyone.
“There are millions of untapped dollars in grant funding that we have not gone after specifically for the initiatives that I’ve spoken about. I believe that just like we go after grant funding for projects that help build our infrastructure, we must also go after the funding that help build the people that live in our city.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.