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Incumbent county chairman addresses NAACP
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"I'm on the hot seat now," Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver said Friday.
McIver addressed the NAACP's candidate forum, and since the only other commission incumbent facing opposition, Pat Bowen, did not attend, McIver was the sole sitting member of the commission to speak.
McIver's opponent, Linda Graham, is no political newcomer. She is a former member of the commission.
Graham said she was running "to give people a choice, in a time when many different controversial issues need to be faced. I think many people will want to vote for change."
McIver touted his experience as mayor of Riceboro for more than 21 years and said he chose to run for commission chairman as a person "who knows the responsibilities of the various jobs."
McIver said he created the county's first finance committee as a step toward financial responsibility.
"And remember I have increased your taxes only once since I've been in office," McIver said.
The incumbent described the county budget and millage-setting process, to which Graham responded, "We also need to be mindful of the digest."
Graham agreed the county needs to grow, but said, "We need to be more smart with our growth."
Regarding the controversial county justice center and the plan to construct a new building for the Department of Family and Children Services, Graham said she agrees with the need for modern facilities, although she thinks the choice of locations is questionable.
"It was the will of the people that the old hospital site be used for a justice center," Graham said.
Both candidates were questioned about a county marina.
McIver said that the question first came up when the Yellow Bluff Fishing Camp was sold, meaning its facilities would eventually be unavailable to the public.
The chairman said the county was motivated by the opinions of boat owners who complained of declining access to launching facilities.
McIver said the Department of Natural Resources examined every possible site in the county with an eye toward investing state and federal funds in improving water access. McIver said only the Green Point site was suitable.
The price of the marina - the site cost $1.54 million - will be paid by the one-cent sales tax, McIver said.
Graham replied, "That one cent is part of our tax money, too."
She said that while some facilities, like a marina, may be needed, "The way by which they are acquired makes them a hot issue."
Graham also expressed her view on impact fees. "Make it happen. Do it and do it now."

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