For more photos of the forum, go to http://community.coastalcourier.com/gallery/detail/1700/.
On Tuesday, the Long County Chamber of Commerce hosted a community meet-and-greet forum for the candidates running for offices in the upcoming Ludowici election.
• If elected, James F. Fuller said he would require annual evaluations for all current employees, and hiring practices for new employees would be stricter. He also would try to increase the city’s revenue by searching for grants and bringing the city’s water and sewage usage back into compliance with the state. As mayor, Fuller said, he would try not to raise taxes or water rates.
• If elected, Janis M. Goode said she would ensure the city completes a budget for 2010 and 2011. She also would see to it that the city passes its municipal code. Additionally, she said, nepotism in city hiring practices would stop under her leadership. She also would encourage participation in local government by the citizens of Ludowici.
“I want people to go to the city meetings. Come give us your ideas,” Goode said.
• Tara R. Manning said that with 16 years of experience as the clerk of Ludowici, she is the most qualified mayoral candidate. Under the current mayor’s leadership, Manning said, she was the person most responsible for overseeing a surplus of $500,000 in a city contingency fund, which helped to ensure a good financial outlook for the city. Manning said she wants to bring in new businesses and industry and address the issue of nepotism.
• The Rev. William Miller said he has 18 years of volunteer service with the community. He established the first community food bank in Ludowici, served as the chairman of the Long County Emergency Assistance Program and is the director of the Long County Family Connection.
“I will be a servant leader who will work with the city council to enhance the quality of life for all citizens,” Miller said.
City council races
• Mary E. Hamilton said she wants to establish a city beautification committee, a community cleanup day and a neighborhood watch program, which would work in conjunction with the Ludowici Police Department. She said all city job openings should be posted in the newspaper and the most qualified person should be hired.
“I want to make Ludowici a place we can be proud of and proud to call our home,” Hamilton said.
• Jerry Stapleton was not at the forum.
• Marvin H. Chesser said the city of Ludowici needs to be cleaned up and he would work to give it a facelift. He said he would work to create more jobs in the community in order to keep many of the community’s young people from having to go to other cities to find employment.
“We do need a big change in this city’s government,” Chesser said.
• Jim Fuller said that while many people complain about what is wrong with the city, he wants to point out that there’s a lot that is “right” in Ludowici. He said that it has an improved working relationship with the county commission and better equipment to provide services. Additionally, the city is operating in the black better than it ever has in the past. For the first time, Fuller said, the city actually is receiving SPLOST revenue.
• If elected, Codie Futch said he will stop nepotism in hiring practices and uncontrolled spending in the city. He wants to hire quality employees and law-enforcement officers. Futch hopes to attract more restaurants and business and draw more industry to Ludowici.
“My goal is to make Ludowici a place that you can be proud to be from,” he said.
• Frank McClelland Jr. said he is aware that any action he takes as a councilman will affect the taxpayers. For that reason, he said, he always will try to be fair and make rational decisions.
“As a councilman, I am only one member with one vote, but I always have been and always will try to treat everyone that I have to deal with the same,” McClelland said.
• Johnny Manning, who is running unopposed, said he served as a city councilman and did not accept any pay for his service, which saved the city $3,300 annually. He also urged all city residents to attend city council meetings and get involved.
“Feel free to call on me at any time,” Manning said.
• Gwendolyn Davis said that since she became a city council member, she has worked to provide bus transportation for children going to and from Ludowici’s Head Start program. She also said she worked to get a community development block grant and was presented with a $295,000 check that went to Ludowici for several projects.
• Robert Cahill did not attend the forum.