The CEO of a company has many responsibilities, chief among them generating and allocating revenue, managing expenses and labor costs and, providing a workforce with the tools necessary to accomplish objectives to the highest standards achievable.
The mayor of a city is tasked with similar responsibilities. A mayor must be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, making sure that the funds entrusted to their administration by the citizens are used in the most beneficial and fiscally-sound manner as possible. A mayor must do everything within their power to support and strengthen public safety, funding and administering precious resources for local law enforcement agencies and forging community bonds that seek to build bridges rather than draw dividing lines. And a mayor must strive to provide the best possible education for every citizen, because at the end of the day, the people of Columbus are this community’s greatest natural resource.
As candidate for mayor, I am accountable to you and I promise to be open and transparent on where I stand on these paramount issues facing our community - and any and every issue that affects you personally. You are welcomed and encouraged to engage with me on social media, over the phone, or in person. I know that you have questions, comments, and concerns, and I want to provide you with a platform to let your voice be heard. We have come so far as a community, but I harbor no illusions about the challenges ahead.
Together, we will foster further economic development, championing local businesses and working to attract new companies and greater job opportunities to the Chattahoochee Valley.
We will equip local law enforcement with resources in a judicious, expedient manner to bolster public safety, enhance our quality of life, and make Columbus safer for all citizens
And we will work harder and smarter to create a diligent, disciplined, forward-thinking educational system capable of both nourishing and retaining homegrown talent to power our economy.
I have served Post 10 for 20 years as City Councilman. Now, with your insightful guidance, infectious passion, and gracious support, I seek to serve each and every one of you as your mayor.
Columbus is my home. I love this community. I think it’s incredible how far we have come in the past twenty years and I’m excited about the potential we have here to continue to grow, to become our best self. I want to help us achieve that and I believe my leadership style is such that, together, we can really transform this community for all of our fellow citizens. I’m a very inclusive leader and I embrace any and everyone who wants to get engaged, to roll up their sleeves and put their shoulder to the wheel. Because there is a lot of work to get done here in Columbus. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of improvement; economic development is on the rise, with new opportunities for continued growth in many different areas of the community. That said, the rising tide has not lifted every boat.
Some of our citizens have been left behind. Some areas are in desperate need of revitalization. Far too many of us are living below the poverty line, and far too many of us are not getting a chance to take advantage of the opportunities that are available. I want to put that on my shoulders. I think the duty of government is to create an environment so that everyone - our civic organizations, our faith-based communities, our mentor and philanthropic groups - we all have an opportunity to help make our home a better place to live and work and raise a family.
I had the great privilege to serve as Budget Chair during my time on Council, and I believe the reason I was elected over 10 times by my peers to serve as chair of the budget committee is because they know I respect people’s opinions; they know I’m going to try to steer us towards a consensus; and they know I’m going to try and keep the meeting running and make sure everyone has the opportunity to express their desires so that we can come up with the best possible outcome based on a vote of the entire committee. I have a thorough knowledge of the budget as a result of having served in that capacity, and I can tell you that we’re up against a wall from a revenue generation prospective.
We are only going to see our revenues increase if we increase the tax base, and that means we’ve got to continue to try to find ways to develop our economy. We’ve got to find ways to get people moving into and buying homes so they are creating ad valorem taxes. We’ve got a tax freeze and a $9 million cap and the two together are positives for the citizens, but they do restrict the amount of money coming into the city, and therefore they restrict our ability to address some of our most pressing issues. The solution is going to have to be a blend of stimulating the economy, maintaining growth, and also taking a hard look at how we are spending our money and the services we are providing, to make sure we are still hitting the mark and providing services that are effective and necessary for the people.
There are people in this community who do not feel safe, who feel that criminality is on the rise. Statistics can be bent to justify any number of narratives, but the bottom line is if a portion of our community does not feel safe, then we have a crime problem. It is my opinion that one of the primary responsibility of any government - and therefore any mayor - is to make sure that the people who live in the community can lead lives of safety and security, and be guaranteed the opportunity to take advantage of the other amenities of the community. Anytime a city’s citizens feel like they are unable to do that because they don’t feel safe, well, that is a problem we need to address with all the resources, manpower, and passion we can muster.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something we’re going to be able to fix overnight. The circumstances that gave rise to increased violent crime, more aggressive gang behavior, these pitfalls have been entrenched in our community for a long time. It’s going to take time, sacrifice, and determination to turn this trend around.
The way I see it, there are two separate, but connected, issues. One, we’ve got to be able to pay a livable wage to our public safety individuals. We also need to get a full compliment of patrol officers on the police department, because as of now we’re nearly 90 officers short right now. The key thing to remember is these individuals are law enforcement officers; they’re not necessarily crime prevention officers. That said, they certainly have a positive impact on prevention, but to truly make strides in preventative measures, we would have to have a full slate of officers beating the streets, doing some real community policing. As mayor, I will get law enforcement officers back into the neighborhoods, back building relationships with some of the individuals who right now may not trust, like, or even respect our public safety officers. If we can provide law enforcement an opportunity to enhance those relationships, we can head off some of the retaliatory crimes and prevent some of the tragedies that befall those areas.
The other issue - and the bigger, broader, and longer term answer to our crime problem - is to fundamentally transform the lives of our community’s youth. Far too often, we get so overwhelmed dealing with the symptoms of criminality that we forget to address the illness at their root: poverty. We must do better about getting to these young people before they opt for a more destructive option. That means we’ve got to create jobs. We’ve got to provide them a quality education and necessary skill set so that when a job opening is made available, they are prepared to seize upon the opportunity. We need to enhance mentor programs, we need to initiate comprehensive communications system so that the faith-based community can talk amongst themselves; so we can leverage different activities in different parts of town, to finally start connecting the dots. Imagine the impact we could have on some of these young people who right now don’t have a lot of options. Imagine what wonderful things could happen if we were to raise the earning level of some of these single parent households. Many of our fellow citizens are in pain. Some of them are caught in cycles of poverty, of domestic abuse, of addiction. A lot of the single parents are out of the house by necessity, working two and three jobs just to put food on the table. When you’re trapped in that cycle, it can be hard for an individual or family to provide structure for their children; but we have to find a way to provide some sort of structure for all of them. For those that want higher paying jobs, we’ve got to make sure they are available. For the ones that are caught in some type of cycle that they can’t break loose from, we’ve got to get them into mentorships, get them into the church, anything we can bring to bear to get them involved, engaged, and hopeful for the future.
Recently, the Chamber of Commerce launched the Regional Prosperity Initiative. Thanks to the research they conducted, we have learned a lot about Columbus. It was eye-opening, and, frankly the information shined a light into some dark corners of our community. My campaign isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. We are facing some serious issues, and the value of taking this deep-dive into what we’ve gotten right and where we have fallen short is it allowed us to clearly identify some areas of focus.
And it always comes back to Economic Development.
One of the initiatives of Columbus 2025 is a cradle-to-paycheck type of initiative that aims to provide citizens with highly-valued skills and opportunities to put those skills to use. A higher standard of education is directly linked to economic development. There are too many people living in Columbus, Georgia that fall below the poverty level. We’ve got to do better.
We are so close to identifying our niche, what are we good at; and when we combine that with our natural resources and our workforce, we will put our community in a position to really capitalize on our potential. I plan to focus on economic development, to partner with the Chamber, to support the Development Authority - to be a facilitator. There will be issues that the government will need to address, and if we have to change the way we’re doing permitting, or if we need to change the way we are doing zoning, or if we have to change the way we’re looking at problems, I will make sure we are nimble enough to react and that we foster a corporate environment that encourages more businesses to relocate here and creates more jobs for the workforce that is already here.
I fully support the I-14 initiative. I think any opportunity for us to bring an interstate or even a connector through Columbus would be a positive thing, especially considering we have much of the infrastructure already in place. We could build upon the east/west corridor, the JR Allen parkway, and out 80 to 96.
Columbus has grown a lot over the past twenty years. Imagine what we could accomplish if we could tie into the interstate grid and connect our community with some of these other economic engines in the southeast region and beyond.
We are living in the Information Age, our world has been made smaller through technological advancement. While there is still a substantial amount of over-the-road traffic, with truckers transporting most of the goods that are made and sold in this country, we can’t let the status quo stop us from continuing to pursue other industries and opportunities to grow.
Georgia Film Industry
The film industry in Georgia has grown from a $6 billion dollar enterprise to $9 billion dollars in just two years. Columbus is a beautiful city, with character and history. Our geographic and topographical characteristics make us an ideal location for any type of film or television show. And it’s not just infrastructure and location that makes Columbus a viable outpost for the film and television industry. Columbus State University’s Department of Communication has partnered with the Georgia Film Academy to offer a two-year certificate program that will infuse the local and regional film industry workforce with experienced crew members, from production assistants and cinematographers to stage designers and craft services. Also, the Springer Opera House recently launched the Springer Film Institute, a new program that offers instruction and guidance in the minutia of movie-making that will act as an incubator for amateur filmmakers.
We have so much untapped potential here in Columbus. The opportunity is there, we need seize it.