The seven persons seeking the three seats on the Watkinsville City Council agreed at the candidate forum earlier this month that the city needs more sidewalks, more bikeways, and more interconnectivity of those pathways.
All agreed that the big challenge is how to pay for these improvements to the city’s infrastructure.
Scott Brannon, a candidate for Post 3, Mike Link, a candidate for Post 4, and Bill Mayberry, a candidate for Post 5, focused more on the financial constraints on the city and the costs of adding new sidewalks and bikeways in their comments
Incumbents Marci Campbell (Post 3), Christine Tucker (Post 4), and Dan Matthews (Post 5), along with Post 5 candidate Lee Morgan, noted more the value of these improvements for the community.
The forum, held in the Library in Watkinsville, was a project of the Oconee County Cycling Organization, which was clear in stating its goal of promoting alternatives to motorized transportation.
In the end, the candidates set themselves apart most in their closing comments, which showed differences in style and personality.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 election continues Monday through Friday of this week. At of the end of the day on Saturday, 7,780 (28.3 percent) of Oconee County’s 27,530 active, registered voters had cast a ballot.
Format And Audience
Tony Glenn, one of the founding members of Oconee County Cycling Organization, moderated the forum and began by asking the council candidates to introduce themselves.
|Brannon And Link|
Most started talking about sidewalks and bike paths right away, with Brannon, Link and Mayberry all mentioning costs as a concern.
Thirty-three people in addition to the candidates attended the Oct. 9 meeting at the library in Watkinsville.
The format was flexible, and audience members stated their preferences and concerns as the meeting, which ran for a bit more than 90 minutes, progressed.
In his closing comments, Matthews said “I want to continue working for you here in Watkinsville. I want to keep Watkinsville wonderful with more sidewalks like those that we put on Harden Hill Road.”
|Campbell And Morgan|
“With one term comes experience in knowing how to work together to help create the best possible city for our future generations,” he said.
Brannon was very brief in his closing comments. He actually said little throughout the meeting.
“We need to be responsible with the dollars that we have to spend in our budget to provide these services for the bicyclists, the walkers,” he said.
“I’d like to see Watkinsville stay a small town like it is,” Link said. “I’d like to see it control growth. I want to see the people of Watkinsville are safe, and that includes putting in sidewalks where we can, putting in bike trails where we can.”
|Link And Tucker|
“People of Watkinsville are going to have to be willing to pay for it,” Link said.
“I see this being a really critical time in Watkinsville,” Tucker said. “Everybody here wants to maintain the small town feel that we have. That is why we either stay here or have moved here.
“But we can’t just sit back and let life happen,” she said, “because if we do that we will lose what we have. We have to be proactive.”
Campbell said “We also have to think long term and short term. What do we want to do and at what stage do we want to do it?”
“I think that we all understand that as a government money is an input,” she said. “It is not an endless supply. There is no money tree behind the city hall, unfortunately, so we have to be very conscious of how we spend our money.”
“The theme of my campaign is let’s work together to keep Watkinsville a great place to live,” Morgan said. “My emphasis there is work together.”
“I am sick to death of nasty, partisan politics, on complete intransigence on any issue that comes up,” he said. “I believe in the power of honest dialog. I believe in the power of principled compromise. And I believe most of all in the power of hard work.”
|Morgan And Mayberry|
“In my never humble opinion, all of the problems facing Watkinsville and Oconee County is dealing with the growth, which is coming, which is inevitable, and which is upon us,” Mayberry said. “ Proper planning is essential.
“I have no fear of speaking my mind,” Mayberry said. “You want to know what I think, just ask me. I ask for your vote. I will work hard for you.”
The video below is of the entire forum.
Opening statements are at 8:39 in the video.
Closing comments start at 1:23:11 in the video.
OCO: Watkinsville Candidate Fourm 10 9 18 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.
Link: "“People of Watkinsville are going to have to be willing to pay for it,” Link said."
Mr. Link, there are funding sources available for sidewalks & bike lanes, whether GDOT, Safe Routes to School, foundation grants, planning code requirements, and trade-off's with potential developers, etc.
Watkinsville needs a strong county manager system; someone who's job is day to day government operations. The elected officials set goals and long-term planning. A competent city manager know there are multiple funding options, not just for this, but for other infrastructure needs.
Disappointing that Link, Brannon and Mayberry were quick to question costs.
Yes, they are not thinking much outside the box. It is probably time for the town to have a professional manager. Our neighbor, Athens-Clarke, is funding their roads, sidewalks, bike paths through a T-Splost which is another possibility for the county to fund these type of needs if the voters agreed.
Many thanks to Dr. Becker for giving this forum some attention.
And many thanks to The Oconee County Cycling Organization for the ONLY opportunity to place candidates side-by-side to allow comparisons between issues, opinions, style, and personalities.
It is only money!
It is only money!😇
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