Early voting is underway in Long County. There are only two items on the ballot: a countywide vote for SPLOST; and the race for the District 5-Tibet seat on the Long County Board of Commissioners, which is open only to District 5 residents.
In the commission seat race, there are two candidates vying for the job. Robert Parker and Randall Klingensmith. Both candidates were sent a questionnaire by the Courier with a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday for responses.
Parker was reminded of the deadline but did not reply to the questionnaire by Friday.
Klingensmith, 46, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but considers Ludowici his home. A veteran, he spent 12 of his 24-year military career serving at Fort Stewart, until he was wounded in 2009.
Klingensmith is currently a senior contract specialist for Gulfstream Aerospace. He holds two master’s degrees and one bachelor’s degree and lists extensive training accomplishments, both civil and military, in a variety of topics to include engineering, health and safety, ethics and leadership.
Klingensmith has been married to his wife, Beth, for 21 years. Together they have a son and a daughter.
Klingensmith said he is running for the District 5 seat to help the county grow responsibly.
"Ensuring that future developments inside our county are done in accordance with current federal, state and local laws and ordinances (relying heavily on a well-trained and organized code enforcement office and county administrator), and that when they are developed that the goal or vision is that the infrastructure such as roads, water, power, and access are all planned and accepted before occupation is allowed," he said. "We need to ensure that our future citizens have a solid start, and that businesses have a solid infrastructure to build from. Minimizing the risk to the county of unaccepted roads or water drainage issues later down the road."
He added he wants to ensure residents in his community have a voice and are listened to and not just heard.
Klingensmith said the county and its commissioners need to be transparent when discussing or considering their position on all matters.
"The press should have open opportunities to take notes and ask questions after if needed to clarify positions," he added.
He said he would like the monthly meetings to start at 6 p.m. so more people can attend.
He noted he would like to see the county develop a user friendly website and have an open forum in addition to a fixed agenda for the meetings.
He said he wants to find creative ways to bring the community as well as those outside the community together.
"Creating tourist attractions, such as farmers markets, flea markets, county fair, county 5K, and expanding our recreation department to provide more opportunities for children and adults," he said.
Klingensmith said his background has provided him the skills necessary to help lead District 5 in the right direction.
"I also have excellent people and communication skills, as well as being capable of being able to work in fluid faced paced environments, all necessary to succeed as your elected representative," he said. "I am experienced and knowledgeable in many aspects that are key to this position, including leading, coaching, collaborating, and establishing rapport with individuals at all levels of government, including federal, state and local as well as commercial organizations. Additionally, I possess expertise in developing and implementing strategies to ensure smooth operation and processes. Now, I would like to bring my knowledge and expertise to represent you for our district on the county commission."
He wants to address infrastructure, accountability and the budget.
"Roads, water, drainage, power and traffic signals, all of this is not keeping up with our growth," he said. "We need a plan to accept roads we have yet to claim but approved to be placed, as well as maintaining the ones we do own more frequently than we do."
He said it is an obligation of government officials to act in the best interests of their community or face consequences.
"Our public officials should be held responsible for their actions, and if not acting in the best interest of the community be held liable for those and their own actions that go against established rules and principles that we ourselves would be held to," he said.
Addressing the budget he said, "There must be accountability for the expenditure of every public penny. The goal is to run our county much like we all run our finances. The goal is to maximize the funds that we have, and ensure that if there are ways to generate revenue without raising taxes, or to generate lean activities to save funds through ‘green’ programs, lease or buy decisions on equipment, or even contracting services that are not inherently governmental may save the tax payers money and allow more freedom to invest the surplus in other directions, like emergency services, recreation, tourism or historical preservation."