Answers from Walt White (incumbent), candidate for Post 3, Fayetteville

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 2:11pm
By: Walt White

Questions for Fayetteville candidates:

1. Whether an incumbent or challenger, what things do you bring to the table that would convince voters to cast their vote for you?

2. There has been some previous discussion about the area on the north side of Ga. Highway 54 between the hospital and Tyrone Road in terms of future development and possible annexation. What is your position on that or other potential annexations?

3. Fayetteville often has a very low voter turnout for municipal elections. Why is that and what can you do to increase voter participation past the 10 percent level?

4. The retail areas on Fayetteville’s north side continue to age and diminish. What will you do about that?

5. Grade the current City Council on openness and transparency to city residents. What will you do to improve the council’s “user-friendliness”?

6. Will you vote for or against the countywide SPLOST renewal? Why or why not?

7. Describe your general political philosophy, particularly regarding local government.

Answers from Walt White (incumbent), candidate for Post 3

1. It has been my honor and privilege to serve our community for a number of years as a City Council member. As a result of this opportunity, I have a wide understanding of the responsibilities and challenges that face local government. I have worked with all entities in our community, including other governmental bodies, homeowners’ groups, individual businesses, associations and churches.

I stand with the citizens of Fayetteville with honesty, integrity, and business experience. In this period of economic instability, it has been important to me to keep Fayetteville a great place to live, along with my commitment to keeping our tax rate among the lowest in the state. My record and my experience speaks for itself.

2. We take the issue of annexation very seriously. There are no proposals nor discussions at this time; however, future proposals would be subject to certain criteria, as in the past. For example: Does the proposal serve the interest of the citizens who already live here, does it enhance their quality of life, their level of convenience?

Let’s look at the last annexation as it relates to our criteria: Bellemeade subdivision on Redwine Road. It was annexed into the city several years ago, with the concurrence of the county commissioners. The result: a very nice subdivision, complementing other developments, while retaining 47 percent of the land as permanent greenspace. An eight-acre, fully developed and landscaped park, Patriot’s Park, was given to the city at ZERO cost to the taxpayers. Additionally, with completion of the Redwine Road bicycle/pedestrian path with federal grant money, one can see the benefits of this annexation. We work with our county government and we “do not” annex without a consensus.

3. The record for Fayetteville in state and national elections is at the very top of the charts. Many believe that, in spite of the statistics, the low voter turnout is primarily due to the fact that the vast majority of residents are quite satisfied with the effective and economical performance of their city government. I ask everyone that I talk with to VOTE first, and then, secondly, to vote for me.

4. Our responsibility as local government is to encourage, enable and facilitate innovative ideas, connecting our private sector with outside sources. A perfect example can be seen in the Jeff Davis Intown Project on Jeff Davis Drive. An apartment complex that was in decline was redeveloped into an award-winning, condo living area, receiving the coveted ARC Magnolia Award for innovative public/private partnership. This was done with all private capital. Our city has been responsive by enacting new codes to facilitate this innovative solution to the challenge. Going forward, in an effort to address these concerns, we applied for and won an Atlanta Regional Commission grant to help pay for a feasibility study to help develop various opportunities for these properties. This is a challenge, this is where I live, and I want the best for our community.

5. The City Council is open and transparent to its residents. Unlike the federal government, each and every agenda item is published and available, not only at City Hall, but online a week or more before each meeting. This includes all supporting information. We actually read the bill. Even if we are changing one word — to increase the clarity of an ordinance — we do not vote on it until the second public meeting. This ensures that anyone who would like to comment has the opportunity. We are open and accessible.

Each elected member has their home telephone number listed, along with an email address. If one calls the City Hall, you speak with a person, not a machine, and they will answer your question or direct you to the proper individual. One of the attributes of a smaller city is the openness and accessibility for its residents. The city government, here in Fayetteville, is totally open and available to the public at any time. I can personally say that concerned citizens have called my home, and they would not do so if they did not feel that I was willing to listen.

6. The way the SPLOST proposal is written, elected officials cannot offer yes/no comments but can only present the facts. Factually, the SPLOST proposal affects the city of Fayetteville, predominantly for transportation projects. The city’s portion of the previous SPLOST provided the funds for the city’s share of the Jimmy Mayfield expansion, the city’s share of the federal grant money for all of the sidewalk/pedestrian paths, and other traffic improvements.

Currently, federal and state transportation grants are requiring more and more local matching funds. Fayetteville does not have the tax base to support additional local funding. Thus, without the SPLOST funding, some or most transportation enhancements will be curtailed. It is, rightfully, the choice of the voters.

7. Historically, we came together to form various levels of government to provide for the common good only those services that individuals could not feasibly provide for themselves. On the local level, these services are important and impact us more than any other level of government on a daily basis. BUT, they are limited!

Public safety, fire, and police are the most important services and justifiably receive 60.98 percent of our total General Fund budget. Water, sewer, garbage, and stormwater control are necessary local services.

As a result of your stormwater fees, we have been able to make significant investments in our stormwater systems. With all of the flooding in the metro Atlanta area, Fayetteville suffered no significant losses. Other areas of responsibility include Public Works, Planning and Zoning, Inspections and Code Enforcement, Finance and Mainstreet Operations.

My political philosophy is not new: “The best government is the least government.”

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