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Q & A: Commission Chair Candidates

Patch emailed questions to all of the candidates running for Douglas County Commission Chairman and here is part one of their responses.

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.

Rita Rainwater:

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:

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Linda Stauffer July 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM
I didn't like the job Rita Rainwater did while she was in office. Actions speak louder than words. I hope she is not elected.
lara July 25, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Tom Worthan has done great things for the County and as he has my vote!!
Virginia D July 25, 2012 at 01:48 PM
We need to bring well paying jobs asap. Most people I know get +-20 hours a week at minimum wage even though they would like to work more. You can't make rent on that.
cd July 25, 2012 at 03:53 PM
After seeing them debate a few weeks ago, she came off as vindictive and spiteful. She was all in attack mode, but didn't seem to have any ammo to go after Worthan with. He mentioned that after he beat her in the primary not only did she refuse to endorse him, turned around and endorsed the Democrat. No idea if true or not, but she didn't deny it during her rebuttal. I look forward to part two of this piece.
Carl Pyrdum Jr. July 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I support Tom Worthan and I encourage other concerned citizens of Douglas County to support his re-election. Tom is a friend of animals and he has worked diligently to support improvements at our animal shelter, including raising money during his state of the county address for the proposed new facility and listening to and acting upon citizen concerns to improve the existing facility.
Julie Camp July 25, 2012 at 05:31 PM
There are e-mails to support Worthan's claims that Rainwater supported the Democrat after the last primary. They were posted in public.
GAB July 25, 2012 at 05:48 PM
http://www.georgiastats.uga.edu/sasweb/cgi-bin/broker Please follow the above link and see for yourself --- Unemployment rates in Douglas County have exceeded the statewide average almost every month Worthan has been in office. By comparision, from Jan. 1993 -- Dec. 2004 (when Rainwater was chairman), Douglas County unemployment rates were consistently below the statewide average. Google, PWC, Medline and RockTenn are enjoying all the tax incentives bestowed on them by the Worthan administration but the statistics show they aren't hiring Douglas County citizens -- just not paying their fair share of local taxes, thus, not supporting our schools, parks & rec, road dept, police or fire departments. I realize the national economy is struggling but our county shouldn't be suffering more than statewide average. Its disengenious to brag about bringing jobs to the county when the statistics show clearly that you have not. Two terms of declining employment is enough! Tom needs to go!
James Bell July 25, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Douglas has given away about $100 million in tax "incentives" to corp. to come to DC. It sounds great but they can not show a cost benefit of giving tax abatement. The so called "job" it brings to Douglas Co. is meaningless. This does not mean the employees live here or that any new local jobs were created. I challenge the county and development authority to show what benefit of county has received. As to the M&O of EMS equipment. Rainwater's claims sound unbelievable. If it was not true the county should rebut the claims and show the M&O schedules for the vehicles.
James Bell July 25, 2012 at 07:04 PM
That should have been "PM" Preventive Maintenance.
Fred July 25, 2012 at 07:33 PM
No national/international company locates a new facility anywhere in the USA without some form of corporate welfare. And the returns to the local economy are rarely positive. The Development Authorities will say that they cannot attract any large employers without incentives (corporate welfare). This is true since there always be another city, county or state willing to "give it up" in order to get those jobs. Bottom line: Worthan, Rainwater or Jackson-Jones - they will all have to pay to play in order to attract jobs. Rainwater attracted lots of construction jobs, Worthan brought in jobs that may have attracted people from surrounding counties - while the housing bust put all those construction workers out of a job. What would Ramona Jackson-Jones do? If she would answer, maybe we would know.
Marsi Thrash July 25, 2012 at 11:06 PM
"I will make lobbying to get road money a TOP PRIORITY and make sure it is actually spent in Douglas County." Rita needs to read the Transportation Investment Act legislation. The TSPLOST will take care of all the projects she references, plus many, many more. The investment Douglas County will receive is well over a 100% return. She has made numerous false claims about the Transportation Referendum. Also, on her last term in office, I contacted her regarding the deplorable manner in which our animal shelter was run. She told me that she didn't care about the animals. I could already tell by the way she treated the shelter.
Beth Laughlin July 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I love Rita Rainwater and I love what she stands for. She has my vote!
Rita Rainwater July 26, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Marsi you are out right lying. I love animals and I care deeply about them and their care. I did not want to take the shelter away from Mae the other 4 commissioners did. I have someone who was there and can back me up on that. I do not support the TSPLOST for many reasons and that makes you mad. So be it. CD I did not lie about not supporting the democrate when Tom beat me. I agreed to support him and there were people in the audience who were at the meetings he did not show up at when we were to do something together for his support. Tom is the one who has not been truthful about so much.
Rita Rainwater July 26, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Thank you that is so sweet
Marsi Thrash July 26, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Rita, I am absolutely not lying. I called you and e-mailed you 8 years ago because I was outraged at what was happening at the shelter. You told me it was not a priority and not something that you really cared about. Sadly Mae is not here to speak, but the Humane Association continues to do great work. Thanks to Leadership Douglas 2012 for building a much-needed puppy room. I'm not mad that you don't support the TSPLOST. I'm befuddled as to why you would lobby the state for money to do what the TSPLOST does -- and then some. 285/20 will not be fixed any other way. I don't understand your reasoning for not supporting it, other than that Tom supported it.
Fred July 26, 2012 at 02:35 AM
So emails posted by James Quarterman on Topix were fabrications by him or some other person?
Rita Rainwater July 26, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Marsi, again I say your are out right lying because I love animals and I cared deeply about the shelter. The other commissioners were tired of all the complaints about it and that is why they took it away from the Humane Society. I fought for Mae to keep it. I am very much in support of a new shelter being built and will help them raise money to build it.
Rita Rainwater July 26, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Fred, It was 4 years ago that I did repeat a rumor to James Quarterman and answered a question with an email about the rumor but I did not support him. There were a lot of reason I was very very upset with Tom at that time. I had been out of office for four years and stayed away from the courthouse and politics and was trying to get a good job and Tom was interferring with that and had been over the 4 years. The year he beat me I agreed to support him and the party knows that, and I can call witnesses. At times in our lives we may do things we wish we hadn't and I wish I hadn't repeated the rumor, but Linda Worthan told me her sister in law started the rumor. I needed to work to support my family and was very discouaged at the time. Have you ever repeated gossip or rumors????????????? I feel the citizens deseve the truth and I have been criticized for this without people knowing my side of the story which I just told part of. I did not support Quarterman he worked very hard against me when Tom defeated me.
Marsi Thrash July 26, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Rita, that is what you told me many years ago. I am not lying.
Rita Rainwater July 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Marsi, WE know who you support and why you are saying all of this. I am over it. I am off to campaign.
Marsi Thrash July 26, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I am saying it because I know what you said to me about the shelter. Necessary expenditures for the shelter were not supported back then either. If you want to debate or show the records to dispute this, that's fine. But to name call? I am very disappointed.
Fred July 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I do find it refreshing that someone running for office will actually come on a site like this and respond. Even more so, that you admit to the emails. It reminded me about why I voted for you three times. However - I went back to Topix and reread what Quarterman posted from your emails. You had a terrible lapse in judgment in "repeat(ing) the rumor". It was a heinous act and I hope that you have apologized to the people that you defamed when you did it. I, like you, feel that the citizens deserve to know the truth. From what I can see the truth is this; you may have come to a Republican Party meeting and publically gave your support to Tom Worthan's campaign at some point. However, when no one was looking you reinforced that despicable rumor with Quarterman, a democrat facing Tom Worthan in 2008. Then you went on to advise him to get his supporters to vote in the Republican primary to help eliminate Worthan so "it would be much easier for you (Quarterman) in the general election". Based on your statement above, you were "discouraged at the time". So "discouraged" that you would risk four years of James Quarterman as Chairman to get back at a Tom Worthan. I guess what happened to Douglas County did not matter. Well I find all this telling of the type of politics you are willing to play and demonstrates to me that you are no longer suitable for public service.
Helen Chambers July 27, 2012 at 02:38 PM
It has taken eight years to try to re-vamp our county in directions other than building homes that have put many developers/contractors under, too many housing developments approved and advertised through out the North to come to Douglas County and take advantage of low interest loans. Under who's watch did that happen? That is what has caused most of the problems in the county. Twelve years of that was enough. Note too, much more has/is being done for the Animal Shelter than in those twelve years, no matter the excuses. I wonder too, why Ms. Jackson-Jones isn't responding to anything. I too would like to hear her response on many issues. This could have been done through the Forum's held and not on this site. Frankly I'm tired of all the mud-slinging and robo-calls of so many candidates in this election and my vote is going to be for those not doing the slinging.
Lara July 30, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Tom Worthan is the best thing for the future of Douglas County. Conservative values. The population in DC has grown just as many cites in Georiga has; without the right leadership this can be a good thing for the County, bringing tax dolllars and jobs; or a bad thing increased crime and no economic growth. From what I can see Worthan has the right team to make growth a good thing. Vote Worthan!
rich July 30, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Rita, maybe it's frustration or maybe it's your personality but judging by your responses you seem to lose your temper quite easily! A person running for any kind of office should maintain a level of professionalism at all times. Calling citizens liars and pointing fingers is not what I'm looking for from a candidate! This is more like a soap opera with all the he said-she said crap.

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