Brundidge candidates speak out before upcoming election

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Brundidge candidates participated in a forum Tuesday night that gave each a chance to speak out on prominent issues.

Those vying for a spot to represent Brundidge in government had an opportunity to introduce themselves and speak about what changes they’d like to see on Tuesday during a political forum organized by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.

The format for the evening at The Station in Brundidge was simple. Each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves, two minutes to answer a question pulled at random and two minutes for a final statement to the audience.

Candidates were chosen at random for the order and The Messenger Publisher Stacy Graning, along with WTBF’s Jim Roling moderated the event.

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Michael Foster, a minister and former police officer who grew up in Brundidge, was up first in the question round. Foster, who is running for mayor, was asked what he felt was needed for the city to be prepared for a natural disaster.

“We are not immune from those types of things,” Foster said, adding that he feels the time for preparation is now, now in the face of an impending storm.

Foster said communication is key and that electricity issues must be evaluated to insure the system is strong before disaster strikes. He also said law enforcement should be prepared for thieves and peddlers.

Next up was Terry Casey who is running for the District 3 seat. Casey is a retired administrator who has lived in Brundidge 14 years. He was asked what strategic planning is necessary for Brundidge to be successful in the future.

Casey said that he was pleased with the plan put in place by city government last spring.

“The future of Brundidge has been laid out and I think the city council went about it in the right way,” Casey said.

Anthony Foster who is also seeking the District 3 seat was next at the podium. Foster said he moved back to Brundidge from Atlanta and, as a business owner, he wants to make a difference in his community. Foster was asked how he would foster community development. His response what that he’d like to develop educational and enrichment plans for citizens and create more recreational activities, including art opportunities.

Andrea Bailey, a young woman who graduated with honors from Pike County High School and has been working in Brundidge more than nine years, was selected next. Bailey, who is running for District 3, was asked what she would do concerning the aging buildings and infrastructure in Brundidge.

“We would need to get a plan started to get some contracting in,” Bailey said, noting that there are plenty of empty buildings waiting for businesses.

Bailey said her approach would be to fix-up buildings already in place to make them attractive to new businesses.

Brundidge native and former councilwoman Jaine Treadwell was the next name drawn to answer a question. She was asked how she felt about the art community in Brundidge.

“I can’t tell you how important the arts are to young people,” Treadwell said, touting the success seen with art in schools and in communities. “They do better in school…They are better, more giving citizens.”

Treadwell, who is running for the District 2 seat, urged the city’s continuing support of new businesses incorporating art into downtown and asked those present to go out and support art any way they could.

Isabell Boyd hopes to be the council member for District 5 and said she’s got “a backpack full of ideas and a suitcase full of vision.” Boyd was asked what would make Brundidge a better business environment.

“We have to stick together and clean our city. No one wants to come to a rundown city,” Boyd said, noting that her idea also included cleaning up the appearance of young people in the area.

Another District 3 candidate was up next. Margaret Ross has lived in Brundidge since 1966 and was an educator for 30 years. She was asked what was needed to attract new business to Brundidge.

“The first thing we need to do is to support the businesses that are here,” Ross said.

“We can’t buy everything that we need from Brundidge, but we need to buy everything we can here.”

Ross said that creating a stable business environment would attract new business owners.

Incumbent Mayor Jimmy Ramage was up next. He said he’d like to stay in office to continue the positive work the city has been doing. Ramage was asked how the city should go about improving transportation and infrastructure.

“We’ve addressed the streets,” Ramage said. “And we built this street behind us to help the trucks that come in and out of the chipper mill.”

But the mayor noted that there are still some issues when it comes to large trucks moving in and out of the city. He said he’d like to see a truck route added to GPS maps to aid with that.

Next up, Pike County business owner and District 4 incumbent Cynthia Pearson was asked how she felt about communication in Brundidge.

“Meeting like this is what we need. We need to be able for our citizens to tell us what they want done,” Pearson said.

Pearson also said she’d like to provide education on municipal rules to people so they can better work with the city.

Betty Baxter said that Tuesday night’s forum was the first time she’d participated in a public meeting such as that one, but it didn’t stop her from wanting to let people know she wants to work hard for District 1. Baxter was asked how she felt about the cost of doing business in relation to the city budget. Her answer was simple.

“Know what the budget is,” Baxter said. “You have to stick with what you’ve got and not go over what you’ve got.”

Don Smith, of Banks, had the hot seat next. Smith said even though Banks was not having an election this year due to lack of interest, he wanted to be at one of the meetings all candidates from the area were invited to. Smith was asked how he’d decrease the crime rate for Banks. He chuckled before responding.

“We have no police department in Banks,” Smith said. “We’ve got a population of 187.”

Smith said he would like to see the growth in his city needed to create a police force, though.

Incumbent District 1 Councilman Lawrence Bowdin was the last candidate to field a question. Bowden was asked about economic development in relation to agriculture, retirement and tourism.

Bowden said that he felt attracting retirees was a great way to boost the local economy because they spend their money in Brundidge. He also said it was up to the city council to create an environment conducive to business and to encourage residents to buy locally.

Bowden has been on the council eight years and said he felt the city has done some great things in the last eight years and he’d like to continue.

Mayoral candidate Jamie Lee Powell, incumbent District 2 Councilman Arthur Griffin, District 4 candidate Byron Gaynor and District 5 incumbent Steven Coleman did not participate in the Tuesday evening forum.

The Brundidge municipal election will be next Tuesday. Mayor Jimmy Ramage said this is the highest number of candidates that has ever been on a Brundidge ballot.