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Springfield City Council candidates talk issues and goals for city
One challenger qualified along with three incumbents
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By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

[Editor’s Note: The Herald sent a list of 10 questions to candidates for the various seats up for election on the Nov. 7 ballot. During the weeks leading up to the election, the Herald will feature the candidates’ answers to those questions. Topics covered included reasons for running, issues that the candidate would like to address if elected; growth, business, environment, crime, and TSPLOST among others. Candidates’ answers are listed in alphabetical order.]

Voters in Springfield will chose from four candidates to fill three at-large seats in the Nov. 7 municipal election: incumbents Justin Cribbs, Steve Shealy, and Gary Weitman are being challenged by Leah Perkins, a social studies teacher at Effingham County Middle School.

Candidates answered the following questions:

1. Why are you running for city council? Give two or three reasons.

2. What are two or three specific goals you would like to accomplish as a member of city council? And why?

3. What are two or three specific issues facing the current council that you believe have not been met or dealt with adequately and how do you intend to address those issues if elected?


Justin Cribbs, incumbent

Justin Cribbs
Councilmember Justin Cribbs
“I am running for reelection to City Council to serve my community and to represent the interests of all residents. I would be honored to continue working with the residents and city staff to improve the quality of life in Springfield. We’ve accomplished a lot over the last ten years since I’ve been on the Council, but there’s always more to do.

“The most important goal is an expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, as we are nearing capacity on this critical part of our infrastructure. We were able to reduce the millage rate this year, and I would love to reduce it further, while maintaining a fiscally responsible and balanced budget. I also look forward to proceeding with Ulmer Park renovations.

“I would like to see safety improvements to the intersection of Hwy. 21 Bypass and McCall Road. This dangerous intersection has become more congested due to the recent residential and commercial development near that intersection. Since Hwy. 21 is a state highway, and McCall Rd is a county road, the city doesn’t have much authority to do anything about it on our own. I hope we can work with GDOT and Effingham County to be able to get a traffic light or some other type of safety improvements there.”

“I would also like to improve the walkability of the city by adding sidewalks, crosswalks, and walking trails.”


Leah Perkins

“I am running for city council because I was born and raised in Springfield, Georgia, and I am deeply invested in the community's well-being and serving on city council is a way to contribute to the improvement and development of Springfield. I was also taught at a young age by my grandfather, James Terrell Webb and former Mayor of Springfield, to have a strong sense of civic duty and a desire to give back to my community. By serving the citizens for Springfield, Georgia I can give back to the place I call home, help the citizens’ voices be heard, and keep our city’s quality of life alive for its residents.

Leah Perkins
Leah Perkins
“Being involved in the City of Springfield is something I have always wanted to do. I have been on the Planning and Zoning Board for the past year and have enjoyed it and learned a lot. I want to continue to represent citizens in my city by addressing the unique needs and challenges of such a close-knit community. As a member of City Council, I would like to continue to foster economic growth by attracting new businesses, supporting local entrepreneurs, and creating jobs, while maintaining our sense of community. I would also like to increase civic participation and engagement within the community. This might include organizing town hall meetings, creating online platforms for feedback, or hosting community events. Finally, as a member of City Council, I would like to maintain Springfield’s small-town unique character and history by continuing to preserving historic buildings, implementing zoning regulations to maintain a certain aesthetics, or promoting cultural events and heritage tourism.

“I believe the current council has met and dealt with issues adequately but I would like to address the specific issue of preparing for the anticipated growth of our county and city while still preserving our “small-town” sense of community and our historical heritage.”


Steve Shealy, incumbent

“My family relocated to Springfield from Savannah over 30 years ago. My three children were raised here, and I now have grandchildren being raised in Springfield. The quality of life we experienced and continue to experience is second to none. No other place I’d rather live. Springfield has given my family much, I serve to give back, no other reason.

Steve Shealy
Steve Shealy
“Since I already serve on the city council, there are many issues that are important to me. I am very proud of our police department, our city manager, our administrative team, and our public works team. Are they perfect? No. However, all give their best for our city. I want our city to give its best to them. Competitive benefits, competitive compensation, strong leadership and consistency in such, will only lend to greater job satisfaction for our team. It is extremely important that we continue to employ and retain what we already have, the cream of the crop.

“We must be cautious with our growth. Our ordinances must be current and make sense for today/tomorrow but our government needs to remain small. Constant evaluating and smart planning will prepare us for a successful future.”


Gary Weitman, incumbent

“I have been on City Council this time since 2010. I also served two terms in the 1970s. In the seventies, we had no city manager. The mayor, council, and city clerk handled all the city business. Springfield wasn’t growing much at this time and everyone in the city knew each other. Now with growth, it is a whole new ballgame. I say all of this to tell you why I am running for City Council again.

“With a good city manager and staff, we have been able to handle the growth in an organized way. I have been on City Council during this growth. It helps to see where we were and now where we are. It helps to have the experience and insight to see where we need to go in the future. I feel that with my experience I make a great candidate for City Council.

“One of the most important goals for the city is to make sure our staff is the best they can be. We need to hire a qualified public works director. This is challenging to find the right person within a salary range the City can afford. This is on the top of my list to accomplish.

Gary Weitman
Gary Weitman
“Water and sewage – This is a goal which we have plans. Water is fairly easy to deal with. Sewage is more costly and technical. We are in the process of expanding our treatment plant and other improvements to make sure we have the capacity for future growth.

“With the Hyundai Plant coming to Bryan County, we will be seeing growth. Our county and cities should be getting more help financially. The state is in a great position to help us with this.  Our council will be in touch with our representatives.”