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City council candidates offer differing views for Guyton
election qualifying
Early voting starts Oct. 17. - photo by File photo

GUYTON -- When asked why he is running for the Guyton City Council Post 4 seat, Andy Harville said, "It’s the citizens"

 “It’s the citizen input that’s important for me. Everybody should have a voice," he said.

Harville credits Mayor Russ Deen for stepping into the job facing some difficult issues, and he believes Deen has done a pretty good job of working on them.

 “The police department, hopefully, is getting close where we’ll have 24/7 officers around the clock. The wastewater, OEM, city streets seem to be doing a good job,” he said. 

Although the city is still looking for a permanent city manager, Harville said he has faith the council will find the right person soon.

“There might be times when I point things out that nobody really likes to hear but it’s just things that I see,” he said about how he works. 

He said he likes to bring facts and truthful information with paperwork to back it up. Harville opposed the idea of a pension plan for council that had been proffered by Michael Johnson of the council, but which has since been tabled. He said wasn’t in favor of it because it seemed to him council members would be working for themselives and not for the city. Harville also emphasized that the plan, in his view, would take money away from the employees of the city.

Harville asked why no questions seem to be asked at council meetings. He said at a recent meeting, a large budget amendment was voted on with no questions asked. 

“Most times when they meet up, (city council) automatically seem to agree on everything they talk about,” he said.

Although he thinks most things seem to be working pretty well, Harville believes they have come to a crossroads on the wastewater plant. 

He said Johnson said two years ago that Guyton spray fields were at capacity and now the city recently discovered that they have been spraying on things they shouldn’t have been spraying. Harville said because of this, the city is looking at a 66 percent reduction in capacity and are now looking at having to start pumping back to Springfield. 

He said that the city has been aware of problems with the system going back to the beginning and that it should have been dealt with long before now rather than using federal ARPA funds that amount to around $832,000 with about $600,000 going to the wastewater plant.

Harville also said that having a sound wastewater plant is going to be vital to future growth in the city. He acknowledged the city is growing and in fact a new subdivision/shopping center is in the plans across the road from the animal hospital on the Vandiver tract. 

He thinks Mossy Hollow is about finished now and Summer Place was expanded, but is almost done. He said he wants to be part of the city’s growth, going forward.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson is no stranger to Guyton politics. He is currently serving on city council and is mayor pro tem. Johnson has served 12 years with this year being the end of his third term. He said the current council makeup has worked well together and he hopes to continue serving.

He thinks that Guyton’s police department is in a good place, saying they have hired police officers recently, beefing up the department, where they had gone down to only having a single officer at one time. 

Johnson talked about the city’s wastewater treatment plant, saying that it’s going in the right direction. 

“EPD has helped us a lot and we are in a positive direction,” he said. “They’re working with us and we’re working with them and we’re in stages of getting more spray fields put into place thanks to EPD.” 

Also, Johnson said that a recent move to have the private company, EOM, take over the running of the waste water treatment plant, has been a positive move for the city and has freed up a few city employees to be able to take on new duties.

Johnson spoke highly of the current city administration and council members, saying that they are working together very well. 

A new city clerk, Maketa Brown has been hired and they are searching for a permanent city manager. He said that council members sit down and look at applications one at a time and try to come to a consensus on the decision. He said this process makes the city stronger because, “Now if everybody has confidence in that person, we can let him do his job without micromanaging him.” 

Johnson said that he always heads in to his day job early so that he can drive around the city to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. 

“I look at streets and lanes, I look at water and sewer,” he said. “For instance, I see where a manhole – a sewer main – had been cracked, where it looked like something had run over it and had moved the lid and the ring off the manhole.”

He said he took photos and sent them to the city manager the next morning and by that evening it had been repaired.

Johnson had recently proposed adding a retirement plan for the city, saying that 160 cities in the state have one, including Rincon. But, after talking to the other council members he said, “We actually took that plan off. We’re not even considering that at all.” 

In looking at the city’s growth, Johnson said there has been growth since the 1990s. He said Guyton has been one of the fastest-growing communities in the state, noting that people are coming in to enjoy the countryside. Johnson said that the city has between 60 and 70 small businesses. He said the city now has just about everything a family would need, from groceries to gas to food to pharmacy. He added that even crime in the city has gone down.