Although Hinesville’s municipal election is still 10 months away, the city’s current mayor and council members plan to run for reelection.
The city of Hinesville announced in a legal notice published last week that the city will hold its municipal election Nov. 8.
Qualifying for the mayor and council seats will be held from Aug. 29-Sept. 2.
To run for mayor a candidate must be a resident of Hinesville for at least 12 months before Election Day. To run for city council a candidate must be a resident of the district he or she is running for at least 12 months before the election.
The qualifying fee for mayor is $450 and for a city council seat is $225.
The Hinesville mayor may only serve two terms; city council members do not have term limits.
Hinesville Mayor Thomas is serving his first term and said he likely will run again. Thomas said he has surgery scheduled later this year and will run if he has "good results."
"I’d like to continue the growth of the city, the revitalization of downtown and the possibility of getting a civic center for the community," he said. "A city our size needs a center of that sort."
Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem (District 1) Charles Frasier has served on the council for nearly 24 years, and plans to run again.
"One of my goals is to continue to keep the costs of government down," he said, meaning he does not want to see taxes raised.
Frasier said the council’s recent goals include a list of capital improvements, such the new city hall construction, the Memorial Drive enhancement, the Bryant Commons park project and improving the wastewater treatment plant on Fort Stewart.
"And of course we’ve got to work on Frank Cochran," he said. Frasier said Hinesville is happy to have the Army troops back from deployment, but concedes more people means more traffic.
Frasier admitted the salary raise for the mayor and council’s salaries was "a point of concern."
He pointed out he eventually pushed for and voted for a reduction in the raise amounts.
"I think what the real issue was the amount of the increase," Frasier said. He said he had initially suggested an incremental increase. Still, Frasier said the council had not had a raise in years.
"(The job) requires a good portion of our time. We’re out in our communities, listening to our constituents … that’s what we’re there for," he said.
The newest council member, Jason Floyd, also plans to run again. Floyd was elected in a special election last fall to fill the District 2 seat left vacant by Bobby Ryon who had stepped down to run for sheriff.
"I’m fiscally conservative," Floyd said. "During these economically challenging times I’d like to see us analyze our spending and offer the taxpayer the most bang for their buck."
District 3 city council member David Anderson is in his third term.
"We’ve reached a lot of small goals," Anderson said. "Keeping taxes down, keeping the water bill as low as possible, although not as low as some people may want it."
Anderson said the new bus system benefits the community and the city’s ongoing capital projects will improve residents’ quality of life.
"We want to continue to develop the Bryant Commons property and find a place for a civic center and maybe a small mall. If Brunswick can have one, we can afford one too," he said.
Anderson also wants to provide youth more recreational activities, to "keep them entertained, off the streets and out of trouble."
As for last year’s raise controversy, Anderson said the council salaries had not been increased in at least a decade. He added the first time the council voted on the raise, the amount of the raise should have been questioned.
Anderson said Hinesville has been recognized as a city of ethics and has not laid off employees or implemented furloughs.
"I know we can’t satisfy everybody. But I think we have been good stewards over this city’s revenue," he said.
District 4 city council member Keith Jenkins is completing his first term and also will run again.
Jenkins said the industrial area on Airport Road is not being utilized to its full potential.
"I would like to bring more industry into that industrial park; to provide more jobs to people in Liberty County."
Jenkins would also like to see the city improve its customer service and, like Anderson, said there needs to be more positive activities for youth.
On the raise issue, he said the council should have considered a greater reduction in the increase amount.
Jenkins said the council must balance providing residents’ services while avoiding unnecessary expenditures.
District 5 Council Member Ken Shaw is serving his third term and intends to run for a fourth.
"There are a lot of projects we’ve started I’d like to see finished," Shaw said, referring to Bryant Commons, Frank Cochran and various other street improvement projects.
"I also would like to continue my efforts to attract more businesses and jobs to Hinesville," he said.
Shaw said he will work to keep the millage rate down and work to find other sources of revenue to pay for city projects, such as grants and SPLOST.
He also wants to hold more town hall meetings with residents in his district, to better address their concerns.