The challenger for the Effingham County Commission’s District 1 seat is promoting the need for a change on the board, while the incumbent it touting his experience on the board in his bid for re-election.
“I will work to restore honesty and integrity in our county government. We’re bogged down in numerous lawsuits because of broken promises,” Republican Forrest Floyd said during last week’s candidate forum hosted by the Effingham Chamber of Commerce.
“During my four years as First District commissioner, I have made my decisions based on what I feel is best for the citizens and the taxpayers. I will continue to do that,” Democrat Bob Brantley said.
Both candidates touted their credentials, with Brantley pointing to his four years on the county commission and his 20 years owning and managing his own business and Floyd discussing his 25 years working for Georgia Power, the “numerous” businesses he has owned and his 21 years in the Air National Guard.
A number of the lawsuits facing the county are related to water and sewer issues. Some county residents have voiced concerns about the number of builders and developers on the board of commissioners through the years.
“A lot of our debt now is water/sewer, which the impact fees help pay for,” Brantley said. “I hear people mention things such as wanting to do away with the impact fees, and I don’t see how we can afford to do that. The county owes roughly $30 million on its water/sewer debt. We’re in the process now of trying to refinance that to get it more manageable, but that money’s got to come from somewhere. And the only other place it can come from is taxpayers.”
However, Floyd said he was not concerned, adding that “builders and developers haven’t built or developed anything the county hasn’t approved.”
“Everybody keeps saying it’s the builders and developers, but the county has been right in the middle of this as well,” he said. “These builders and developers are people that employ your friends and neighbors. They’re the ones who are going to grow this county. These issues are not the builders’ and developers’ fault. They asked and the county approved — it’s that simple.”
Floyd also alleged a lack of county leadership in addressing the polluting of the Ogeechee River, resulting in more than 38,000 dead fish. Despite a public outcry that wastewater from the King America Finishing plant caused the fish kill, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a permit allowing KAP to continue discharging into the river.
Floyd said that some neighboring counties have written resolutions protesting the EPD’s handling of the matter. He said, if elected, he would encourage the Effingham County Commission to do the same.
“We need to be involved. There has been no involvement or leadership on that issue, and that’s in our back yard,” Floyd said. “That’s the only way we can get this done. We’ve got to get this community motivated, or the county commission, as leaders.”
Brantley said he has “spoken with several state legislators” about the Ogeechee River fish kill and brought up the idea of a resolution “about four meetings ago during our committee reports. Thus far, nothing has been done, and it takes a whole board to pass a resolution. So there’s only so much you can do as an individual.”
Floyd pledged to “work to create transportation solutions without raising taxes.” Asked by panelist Gussie Nease how he would accomplish that, Floyd said he would try to build teamwork between the county, state, Department of Transportation and Effingham County Industrial Development Authority.
“It’s just going to take a collaboration of that group,” Floyd said. “That’s the stranglehold on this county – without (building) those roads, this county’s not going to grow. I think, with the expansion of the port, there’s going to be a tremendous opportunity for Effingham County.”
Brantley was then asked how he has addressed Effingham’s transportation needs in his time as a commissioner. He referenced the plan he helped devise as a member of the county’s transportation advisory board.
“We have identified certain roads to be built. The Effingham Parkway is one of them,” Brantley said. He added that road improvement goals took a hit when local voters shot down the proposed one-cent transportation sales tax in July, “but we’ve been working on a plan since I’ve been in office.”
The general election will be held Nov. 6. Registration status can be checked at www.sos.ga.gov/mvp or by calling the Effingham County Elections and Registration office at 754-8030. All county voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on election day.
Early and advance voting will be held through Nov. 2 at the Elections and Registration office, 284 Highway 119 South in Springfield, and at the old Marlow Elementary School, 4752 Highway 17 South.
Early and advance voting will be held from Oct. 15-Nov. 2 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.
Both locations will be open for Saturday voting Oct. 27 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Voters can obtain voter registration information by accessing the SOS Web site at www.sos.ga.gov/mvp. This Web site provides helpful information — voter registration status, how to register to vote, polling location, can view sample ballots, request an absentee ballot, who a voter is eligible to vote for, when and where to early vote, and other valuable information.
Those with questions also can call the Elections and Registration office at 754-8030.