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Council hopefuls prep for election

POSTED: September 26, 2011 9:29 a.m.

A number of new candidates are running against incumbent Hinesville City Council members in the Nov. 8 municipal election.

District 1 Council Member Charles Frasier, 65, will face Diana F. Reid, 53. District 5 Council Member Ken Shaw, 59, is being challenged by three candidates:  Hannah Williams-Donegan, 58, John Spradley, 41, and Angela Wilson, 48.

District 4 Council Member Keith Jenkins’ challenger, Douglas Burgess, was found not qualified to run by the Liberty County Board of Elections on Thursday. Burgess has 10 days to appeal the board’s decision to the Liberty County Superior Court.

The board held a hearing last week to review evidence presented by voters claiming Burgess was not a Hinesville resident for the required 12-month period. Burgess told the board he resigned from the Allenhurst City Council in March.

Reid is an administrative assistant with the Liberty County Development Authority. This is her first try at politics.

Reid said she doesn’t think in terms of running against Frasier. “I just think it’s time for new representation,” she said. “And I want to give back to the community that helped develop me and my family.”

Reid moved to Hinesville in 1962. She said she is seeking office because she wants to make a positive impact on other people’s lives. A youth coordinator for her church, Reid said teens and young families here need more support. She said she also is concerned about the elderly in the community.

If elected, she promises to consistently check in with her constituents.

“It’s not my city; it’s our city. It belongs to the citizens. They should be able to (reach) their council person about issues they want to discuss,” Reid said.

Like Reid, Williams-Donegan said she is running for the seat more than she is opposing the incumbent.

“I would like to say I’m not running against Mr. Shaw; I’m running for the office,” she said. “I’m giving the residents an option to have someone else to vote for.”

Williams-Donegan said she is not pleased with “the way things are going in the city.”

 “We don’t have a lot of community involvement,” she said. “We have a lot of things going on but not a lot of (resident) involvement. They don’t know what’s going on.”

If elected, Williams-Donegan plans to hold periodic town hall meetings in person and online. She said she has been involved in politics since 1974 and worked on President Barack Obama’s campaign. Williams-Donegan moved to Hinesville permanently in 2004.

Fish World and Pets store owner John Spradley is a lifelong Hinesville resident.

“I decided to run because we need a city councilman that has more of a business background,” Spradley said.

He said he is experienced at deciphering financial documents and would more closely monitor how and where the city spends money.

“Also, there’s the cost of the whole city hall. We don’t need that big of a city hall,” Spradley said.

Instead of building a new city hall, the city could have built a new fire station, which would have been more beneficial to residents, he said. The candidate also suggested the public be allowed to use the new city hall to meet as long as they pay for security and cleanup.

Spradley added that the city should have put the issue of raising the mayor and council’s salaries on a voter referendum.

“No government official should vote for a raise for themselves,” he said. “They should have allowed the citizens to vote on raises.”

Spradley also said city officials could hold their yearly planning workshop in Liberty County instead of St. Simons Island. He suggested alternate locations for a workshop, including a conference room in Hinesville City Hall or the Hinesville Police Department training room or even using the school board’s arts center.

Wilson said District 5 needs leadership and vision. She works in sales and marketing for MWR on Fort Stewart.
“I’ve been here as long as the incumbent (Shaw) has been serving,” Wilson said. “I see new buildings in the downtown area, some refurbishes — but I don’t see jobs.

“With all the new construction, we need to keep business in Hinesville, and I don’t see that. We need to be more business friendly in Hinesville. I’ve talked to business owners and that seems to be a complaint,” Wilson said.

She said businesses would bring jobs, which in turn would anchor more of Hinesville’s young people “so they can remain in the community and not have to move elsewhere.”

Wilson also said Liberty Transit should be reconfigured or shelved.

“It’s idling on Fort Stewart … at the hospital. You have two or three people on them. I don’t know what study they did, but it’s not working,” she said.

Wilson said she understands the city would have to pay $1 million back to the federal government if it discontinues the bus system, but she questions how much money the city will continue to spend to keep the system going.

She also questions why council meetings are held during the workday.

“I want to talk about (changing) the city’s 3 o’ clock council meetings,” Wilson said. “Most people have to take off work to attend. So if you have no one watching, you can do what you want and ask for forgiveness later.”

Wilson moved to Hinesville in 1998. She said she has experience in government and previously worked for state Sens. Mike Rose and William C. Mescher in Columbia, S.C., before relocating to Hinesville. Wilson said she is the spouse of a retired soldier and therefore understands the importance of Hinesville having a healthy relationship with the military community.

“We need to let them know they are welcome in this community. They are a big part of it,” she said.

 

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