In the last candidate forum before elections begin Tuesday, Republican Troup County commission chair candidates Patrick Crews and Frank Kirby attended the Hogansville Senior Center’s candidate meet and greet.
During his introduction, Crews told the group that if elected to commission chair, he would look into holding meetings in Hogansville and West Point. He said his experience as a banker will help the county to determine ways to increase revenues and reduce spending of the budget.
He mentioned that Kirby wanted to open convenience centers seven days a week, which county projections say would cost an additional $500,000.
“If I had $500, 000 extra to spend, I would rather use it on employees,” Crews said.
Kirby also had talked about putting more fish into West Point Lake, said Crews, which would cost $200,000, and wants to use TAD to build extra hangars at the airport.
“I don’t want to make any promises that I cant keep, but we must be very careful with how we chose to spend our money,” said Crews.
Kirby told the group that servicing the people has been a part of his family and entire life. In response to Crews’ references, Kirby said the money is already there to run the convenience centers seven days a week, and would not cost taxpayers any money. He said he anticipates getting the fish donated for the lake and that other cities have seen a booming economy after putting more fish in their lakes because it would attract tourists and many people who travel for fishing. He does not support tax increases.
“I pay the same taxes that you do and I sure do not want to have to pay higher taxes,” said Kirby, noting that he would like to see a tax break on the school system.
William Prescott, of the Hogansville Senior Center and orchestrator of the forum, said he would like to see the convenience centers operate more days a week and does not support curbside services because seniors like himself have difficult times pushing the carts to the roads.
Both candidates said they, too, were against curbside pickup.
Hogansville resident Willie Cameron inquired about the candidates’ thoughts on having a tornado shelter in Hogansville.
Kirby said he would be willing to discuss it with FEMA representatives and Crews said he would be open to working with the Red Cross on installing shelters, but would have to determine the need and cost, and also see what groups are already providing shelter services.
Transportation from Hogansville to West Point was also a posed topic from Cameron.
“I feel the same way about it as I do about operating the convenience center,” said Crews. “If it’s going to cost $500,000 is is there a real need for it? And do citizens really want it?”
He said without seeing any real numbers on people without transportation to jobs and necessary destinations, the decision for an expanded transportation system, outside of the county’s Troup Transit program, cannot be made.
Kirby said he would consider looking into reconstructing and expanding the Troup Transit system.
Prescott inputted that people using a transportation system should not use it for free and should pay some sort of fee.
“The government shouldn’t be responsible for paying for their transportation,” said Prescott.
Resident Paula Darden asked the candidates would they allow guns into public facilities like the government center since the passing of the House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, which allows residents who have concealed carry permits to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of airports. Darden also commented that she would like to see the commissioners act more business-minded and leave all personal issues behind the scenes.
Guns will not be allowed in the government center, Kirby said, noting that only on-duty deputies at the government center will be the only persons permitted to carry a gun.
Crews supported Kirby’s statement and said though he loves the outdoors and guns, he sees a problem with guns with alcohol and large groups. He also said the commissioners should act as team to represent its people.
“Elected officials should behave in a way to represent the people,” he said. “The time spent fighting could be used to do productive work. It’s an embarrassment.”
Early voting ends today at 5 p.m at the Troup County Government Center; Primary elections begin Tuesday.