The Troup County branch of the NAACP hosted a candidates’ forum Monday at the William Griggs Recreation Center. Attending were local candidates for state house District 128, Couny Commission districts 2 and 3, Board of Education District 1 and sheriff:
County Commission candidates spoke on concerns about jobs for residents during Monday’s forum.
Asked how the commission should plan for repressed areas of the county compared to the rest of the county, District 3 Democratic candidate Deedee Williams said the commission needs to plan for the entire county, not just focus on certain areas. She said the county needs to continue concentrating on bringing jobs to the area and pursue its reinvention as an automotive manufacturing center, but ensure it diversifies its job availability.
Incumbent District 2 commissioner Buck Davis, a Republican, said that the county’s workforce development program and troupcountyworks.com is helping find local people jobs. He said there has been progress with the county’s unemployment dropping from 15 to about 10 percent, though that is still high.
District 2 Democratic candidate William Herndon said he doesn’t know the answer is, but that there has to be a way to find out how to help those in need of jobs. He pledged to work hard if elected to find ways to get people jobs.
Addressing how to get people back to work who have been without employment, Davis said getting the resources is key, noting that when he worked in textiles, there were people who had the skills to do their job, but may have been illiterate or lacked necessary skills for another vocation. Now with more jobs set to come to the county, there is more need to get different agencies involved to get people what they need for those jobs.
Williams said that the county needs more people that are qualified for the new jobs coming in. There are more higher education institutions in the area, but people may need help getting in touch with the resources they need. For many people, failing a background check may be a sticking point, but commissioners could work with companies to place a moratorium on barring certain people who have “paid their dues.”
Herndon said many people who lost their jobs when the cotton mills closed down may not have another skill set to fall back on. He said educational opportunities to learn new skills are available and should be promoted.
Asked how to train local people for jobs, Herndon said that if he could change anything in his life, he would’ve gotten additional education instead of going to work at 17. He said promoting education to young people is important to their future job viability down the road.
Williams said the Technical College System of Georgia has career academies in some areas where the local tech school works with high schools to help make students who plan to go to work out of high school more employable. She said Troup County should try to secure a career academy to train locals to have the skills needed for local work.
Davis said having educational and skill-building opportunities in place aren’t enough, but it takes an involved community that is willing to work and people motivated to take advantage of those opportunities.
Republican County Commission District 3 candidate Tripp Foster was not at Monday’s forum. Troup County NAACP branch president Willie Cameron said Foster didn’t respond to messages requesting him to attend.