With incumbent Brooklet Mayor William Hendrix vacating the position by not qualifying to run again, two newcomers entered the race, each hope to help create a better Brooklet.
Both candidates, Joseph Grooms III and Charles Howell, plan to improve transparency, encourage community involvement and repair what both consider to be flaws in the current Brooklet city government.
Howell, retired after 20 years with the U.S. Air Force, has worked for the U.S. Army in Ft. Stewart for the past 14 years. If elected, he will bring years of experience in “budget, finance, maintenance, a little bit of law enforcement and a lot of leadership,” he said.
Grooms is a lead lineman with Canoochee EMC and has been with the company for 14 years. He is no stranger to Brooklet and its people; his father, Joe Grooms, was the town’s mayor for several years as well.
“I enjoy being a part of Brooklet and its community,” he said.
Howell said he feels Brooklet’s current and past council and mayor have made some wrong decisions that are not best for the community.
“The council has made some missteps … with police issues, with some fee increases, annexation and zoning issues,” he said. “Mistakes happen, but (this) council is unwilling to admit mistakes or discuss alternatives. They are not very transparent, and all that needs to change.”
Grooms said he hopes to work to bring unity back to the community.
“I knew William Hendrix was not going to run, and I wanted to step in as a citizen of Brooklet,” he said. “People who live here have a very strong vision and care about the community and helping each other.”
Both Grooms and Howell are concerned about transparency in governmental works and feel the current council lacks in that area.
“I’d like to increase transparency and public involvement,” Howell said.
If elected mayor, he promised to listen to the residents of Brooklet.
“I am reasonably intelligent, fair and have common sense, but someone else could have a better idea and has a voice that needs to be listened to,” he said.
Grooms also said he feels the town’s residents and business owners deserve more input. If elected, he wants to “restore the city council and give it back to the citizens so they can feel they can approach and have a voice. There is a separation, a gulf between citizens and council that got in the way of people going to meetings.”
He said he wants to see Brooklet grow in positive ways, with “more openness, transparency and (an end to) things done wrongly.”
Howell is a past master of Thunderbolt Lodge 693 and four-time past president of the Southeast Bulloch High School Band Boosters, as well as chairman of Brooklet’s Planning and Zoning Board.
A summa cum laude graduate of Georgia Southern University, he and wife Angie have three kids and have lived in Brooklet since 1991.
Grooms has lived in Brooklet for 54 years, ever since he was a year old, he said. A Southeast Bulloch High School graduate, he and wife Sheri have a daughter and three grandchildren.
The Brooklet city election will be held Nov. 5 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with voting held in the Brooklet Community Center.
Early and absentee voting begins Oct. 14 and runs through Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Brooklet City Hall, said Brooklet City Clerk Angela Wirth.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.