Former Rincon mayor George Saraf is set to challenge incumbent Ken Lee for the mayor’s seat in the November elections.
Saraf said there were basically two reasons for his decision to run again. First, he thought that there were some things going on lately that could have been handled better. And second, he hated to see someone elected with no competition.
Saraf won his first election in 1981 and was on in 1982 and 1983 when there were two-year terms of office, he said. He ran for mayor in 1984 and served from 1984-85.
“That’s when I got the four-lane highway and the sewage plant and all that stuff,” he said.
“Then they voted me out in ’85. Then after they recalled the mayor they had — I lost that by one vote.’
Saraf ran again in 1989, losing to Kay Kessler. He ran in 1993 and beat Kessler by 2-to-1, he said.
“I went back in and stayed there until 2004,” he said.
Saraf said he has the time to devote to the city’s business.
“Politics is like a disease,” he said. “It gets in your blood; I enjoy it. I’m also retired from Gulfstream. I’ve got time to take care of business. I ain’t got time to worry about a job. I don’t think any of that stuff would have ever happened with (Herman) Woods if I had been in office, ‘cause I’ve dealt with him before and ain’t never had no problem.”
He said he thought that too often politicians rely too much on employees and that employees shouldn’t be making decisions that the politicians should be making.
“I think there was too much emphasis put on employees’ taking care of business when there shouldn’t have been,” Saraf said.
He said the biggest issue facing Rincon is its water supply.
“They haven’t gotten it straightened out yet,” Saraf said. “I would like to see more industry come in. Now, more and more industry is going overseas.”
Saraf said he spoke with one man, who has grandchildren and asked him why he was doing all the things he was trying to do now.
“I said, ‘you’ve got grandchildren — do you want them to grow up and have a job around close to home, or do you want them to get an education and move to another state where you’ve got to travel to go see them?’” Saraf said. “It’s just all tied together. So I’ve tried to do what’s best for most people.”
He also said Butch Kieffer asked him a couple of months ago if he planned to run again.
“I said I don’t really know but I might, ‘cause every time I run for office, the economy gets better,” Saraf said.
Saraf cited a book on growth in southeast Georgia published several years ago that said there was $180 million in disposable income in Effingham County and only $30 million of it spent in the county. According to Saraf, the book called timber and farming the county’s two biggest industries and said 60 percent of adult males in the county were functionally illiterate.
“But it’s changed,” he said. “One of the main drawing cards in the county is the school system. I told Michael Moore a long time ago, don’t let this thing get where you lose control of it. If you lose control of it, you’ve lost whatever you worked for.”
Saraf, who previously served with current council members Levi Scott, Reese Browher and Paul Wendelken, said he thought he could work well with other council members and city staff.
“If you’re doing your job, I don’t care if you’re sitting down,” he said. “But if you ain’t doing your job, I’m your worst enemy.”