Patch: How do you intend to support economic and job growth in Douglas County?
Rita Rainwater: I feel working with the development authority to bring jobs to our community is one of the top priorities. I want to make sure that they have the tools they need to do their job. The first step should be working with the city to combine the development authorities. The county and the city both should have appointments on the board.
We need to work together as one community with differing interest. I will be visiting the existing businesses to see what we are doing to help or hinder them.
When a new industry comes to the county I will assign a person to help them through the development process so that the rules are not changed on them during the process. This person will work with their people to help them complete the building phase. It is important that all of our building codes are followed for everyone’s safety but they should understand in the design stage the codes and ordinances. Have a monthly meeting with the business community at the courthouse with myself, the mayor, chairman of the development authority and the development director to see how things are going and if there is anything the county or city could do to help them. Ask the Douglas County School Board Chairman to sit on the development authority because that is a vital part of what company looks at when choosing a community. Ask the chairman of the West Georgia College Board to sit on the development authority also.
It’s important more than ever that we are all on the same page and that we work as a team. WE NEED JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, THAT PAY DECENT WAGES.
Tom Worthan: Douglas County was hard hit during the recession since our major industry was construction and support services. We were a bedroom suburban community with retail services and very little industrial/manufacturing facilities. The recession required us to re-focus our economic marketing towards businesses with jobs, inventory, and production, and those using technology.
We have been successful in our efforts. In 2005, the industrial value of the County Tax Digest was $498 million (5.4%). In 2011, the industrial value was $844 million (8.4%) of the County Tax Digest, a significant increase. High-tech firms such as Google and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as well as high employment firms such as Medline and RockTenn have found Douglas County to be a good place in which to locate. We have relatively low taxes, a good transportation network (Interstate, accessibility to the Atlanta airport, rail), a stable and reliable water supply, and a government who wants to work with them.
A joint City-County Development Authority is the best marketing organization that we can have because it presents one voice from our area to the industrial world.
Patch: Besides economic and job growth, what is the most important challenge or issue that the County faces and why?
Tom Worthan: The current state of housing is of great concern. From the 1990s through mid-2000s, the vast majority of homes that were built were starter homes - small square footage, medium-quality houses on small lots. These were mass-marketed to people who wanted a first home ownership, but the mortgage crisis and the poor construction of the houses made them go upside-down quickly, and foreclosures ensued. When I took office in 2005, the County immediately increased construction quality standards but there are still thousands of starter homes throughout our County. It may take years to reduce this vacant house inventory, and that keeps property values down. Homes should be an investment that is stable. The housing crisis has upset that stability.
There are several things we are facing. All of these empty foreclosed homes need to be dealt with before they become more of an eyesore. We need to assemble our real-estate community to see what it would take to put families in these homes who can afford them and take care of them. The roads are really in bad shape and we need a good paving program going. We need to be fighting at ARC to get the 92 project and the Lee Road project going and completed. I feel a lot of our money that was secured has been diverted to other counties at ARC. We need several roads widened and I will make lobbying to get road money a TOP PRIORITY and make sure it is actually spent in Douglas County.
Our emergency equipment in the FIRE DEPARTMENT is in deplorable shape. There is no reason that a fire truck costing several hundred thousand dollars with 72,000 miles on it has had the oil changed and greased twice in its life. This is just one example of what is happening. When the fire trucks and ambulances go to our maintenance shop our dump trucks have priority over life saving equipment. This Will stop on January 1st when I take office. We have ambulances with over 200,000 miles on them breaking down routinely with patients in them. We then have to send another vehicle to transport the patient. This is deplorable, and I will not stand for this. WE will develop a replacement policy and we will assign an employee to do nothing but change oil, filters and keep our fire trucks and ambulances greased routinely. I could go on and on about the equipment but I think you get the picture. Making sure we have emergency equipment that is well taken care of and when it has too many miles and wore out we will auction it off and replace it. The sheriff’s department vehicles are also a vital part of our emergency services and I will work with the sheriff to set up a maintenance program for them.
Democratic candidate Romona Jackson Jones did not respond to repeadted Douglasville Patch emails to participate in this Q & A.
Part two of this Q & A will be on Douglasville Patch Thursday. Here are the questions that candidates will answer:
Would you like to see Sunday retail package alcohol sales on the Nov. 6 ballot? Why or why not?
Would you like to see Sunday restaurant by-the-drink alcohol sales on the Nov. 6 ballot? Why or why not?
How do you differ most from your opponent?
What major projects do you see facing the County in the next four years?
Other Douglasville Patch articles on this matter: