Jeff Yawn, in his fourth year representing District 3 on Statesboro City Council, says he feels called to serve four more years and help the city continue the great things he believes it is accomplishing.
Yawn faces a challenger, Venus Mack, in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Occurring in the middle of the mayor’s term, this election will not be citywide. Only Districts 2, 3 and 5 will elect council members, and all three districts have two-candidate contests.
“I believe in giving back to the community and I believe this is my opportunity, this is the calling that I have to serve,” Yawn said. “I believe that we’ve accomplished some great things in these first four years of my service, and I’m compelled to serve four more years. I feel like there’s a lot that we have left to accomplish.”
Of course, all of the candidates are being asked why voters should choose them.
“I believe my experiences professionally and personally equip me to serve our community well,” Yawn said.
He is executive director of Eagle Dining Services, in other words Georgia Southern University’s meal programs for both the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses.
Now 47, he has resided in the Statesboro city limits a majority of those years and in Bulloch County for all but a few months. He grew up working at the former Snooky's restaurant, owned by his parents, and later owned the former Archibald's restaurant. He attained his Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in finance, at Georgia Southern.
Previously married, Yawn has three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, students in the Bulloch County school system.
The District 3 candidates were informed of several topics in advance and interviewed by phone, both on the same day. The story about Mack appeared in Friday’s, Sept. 27, print edition and remains available online at www.statesboroherald.com.
The candidates were asked whether Statesboro is a safe community and what, if anything, the city government should do to make it safer.
As Yawn noted in his answer, Chief of Police Mike Broadhead, who reports crime statistics to the council annually, calls Statesboro a relatively safe city.
“Even in recent conversations with the chief of police, and I’m sure, you know, people question it, but he does believe we are a safe community,” Yawn said. “There is, unfortunately, crime that exists, and there unfortunately always will be, but I think overall we are a safe community.”
The whole community has to take responsibility for crime prevention, he added.
“Bad things happen, and they’re unfortunate, and we need to be proactive in preventing them,” Yawn said. “But I think what we have to realize is it can’t be just the sole responsibility of 60 to 70 police people, that we all as a community have to be a part of communication and about giving people the opportunity to choose paths in life that don’t lead them into poor choices.”
Last week city staff recommended one of four options for creating a bus system, based on a feasibility study consultants completed last spring.
“We had the study brought forth, and it obviously revealed that there is a need …,” Yawn said, “and there is a tremendous opportunity to receive help from the federal and state government, which we would be very reliant on.”
Bulloch County’s five-year sales tax for transportation purposes, approved by voters in 2018, includes $450,000 for public transit in Statesboro. That will cover the feasibility and implementation studies and less than half of projected equipment costs but cannot be used for operating expenses.
Federal grants, if approved, could pay 50% of operating costs and 80% of equipment cost, with the state providing 10% on equipment.
“Some of our citizens, I think some of our students, have the need to have public transportation, and I think this would be a great first step, if we can responsibly work it out,” Yawn said.
Parks & rec
With the county-funded Statesboro-Bulloch Parks & Recreation Department operating several parks in Statesboro, both candidates were asked if the city should have more input.
“My children have been very active with the Recreation Department, I was very active with the Recreation Department, and we’re so very blessed, very fortunate to have Mill Creek (Regional) Park, but I do believe that we, as the city having recreational areas, have to be more cognizant of what’s going on and have to be more a part of the planning, more a part of concepts,” Yawn said.
He added that he believes the city can work with the county on parks and recreation plans for the future and has great working relationships with county officials.
The Creek on the Blue Mile project started with private planning but is now a city project with some state funding sources. An engineering feasibility study is just beginning.
“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for our city,” Yawn said. “It’s a project that I believe truly can connect Georgia Southern and our city, and I think that’s a necessity for our city to progress into what it can be.”
The candidates were asked whether the project presents things to be cautious about.
“We have to be sensitive to those we’re working and dealing with,” Yawn said. “There are so many people involved in this project, and many people see in different ways and in different lights, and I respect that completely, so we have to be very respectful and sensitive to everybody’s perspective as we go through this process of developing this project.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.