Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 16, 2013

Hard blows landed at political forum

VALDOSTA — American Association of University Women hosted a political forum for area elections which will take place on Nov. 5.

Dr. Luke Fowler, a Valdosta State University political science professor, served as event moderator.

The instructions were simple. Each candidate had two minutes for an opening statement, six minutes for each question, and a one-minute closing statement. This was enough time for all of the candidates to debate, and for some to land a few blows.

The first two candidates to take the stage were potential representatives of the City of Valdosta District 2, John Hogan and Calvin Graham Sr. Sandra J. Tooley was not present because of personal reasons.

In his opening statement, Hogan promised to represent all of District 2 because he sees and pays attention to the issues that the district faces on a day-to-day basis. Hogan also owns a small business that allows him to listen to the community.

Graham's opening statement touted his military and leadership experience. Recognizing the past growth in District 2, Graham said there is room for growth. Graham promised to serve District 2 as proudly as he served in the Armed Forces, where he received a purple heart.

Fowler asked the candidates, “If elected, do you expect any problems with the council?”

Graham said, “No. I have a strong voice, and that came from the Army. Also the ability to work in a team came from the Army.”

Hogan promised to look at things that have not been previously addressed.

Candidates from the City of Valdosta District 4, Incumbent Council member Alvin Payton Jr. and challenger Junior S. Jackson were the next to take the stage.

In his opening statement, Payton pointed to his education, business, family, and leadership experiences. Payton said, “I have experience to lead and I have a good working relationship with the county.”

Jackson's opening statement highlighted his accomplishments as a young man of 22 years of age. Jackson is on the board of Keep Lowndes/Valdosta Beautiful; he has a family, a home, and now wants to help the community.

“What are two major issues that face the community?” Fowler asked.

Jackson said two issues are retaining graduates from VSU because they will help Valdosta grow, and bringing businesses to the community.

Payton said the two main issues were relocating the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant and attracting new industry to the area.

Candidates from the City of Valdosta District 6, Incumbent Council member Robert Yost, Richard Miller, and Joseph Wheeler debated many issues facing the community.

Yost said that he has been on the council for the past 12 years, and highlighted that his district has a lot of traffic.

Miller is a graduate from local schools, and has been a business owner for many years. His architecture background gives him the experience to bring a new perspective to the many zoning issues facing council.

Wheeler said he believes in two term limits, and wants to put the city on a pay as you go type system. He promises to cut the city's budget to build Valdosta's infrastructure. Wheeler also said he opposes SPLOST VII.

“What is your position on the WWTP, and how will the city pay for it?” Fowler asked.

Wheeler answered, “we should pay for the project with budget cuts.”

Yost said that the plant has to be moved, it is court ordered, and the project is expected to be completed in two years. Yost jokingly said, “Mr. Wheeler talks about cutting the budget, but he works for the city.” Yost asked Wheeler, “What's your next job when we cut yours?” Clarifying his point, Yost said, “Every decision we make as a council impacts people, and we have to be aware of that.”

Miller said that the relocation is mandated by the federal government, so it has to be done. Miller pointed out that the funds will come from somewhere, either another sales tax, or by raising property taxes. “We need to pass SPLOST to pay for this project,” Miller concluded.

Lizzie Shumpard was the only candidate present at the forum running for Valdosta School Board District 1. Shumpard is running because she loves her community.

“What are the two main issues on the Board of Education?” Fowler asked.

Shumpard said the two main issues are the pre-K program, and the multitude of students who speak foreign languages implying that the system lets those students down. Stressing the importance of an early education, Shumpard said, if children miss out on pre-K then they will statistically fall behind in their studies.

Incumbent school board member Vanassa L. Flucas and James L. Nelson represented the candidates from Valdosta School Board District 2, and they were the final candidates to speak at the forum.

In her opening statement, Flucas said she has served on the school board for the past three years, and she is a proven leader.

Nelson opened by putting on his cap and gown in remembrance of Valdosta's high drop-out rate among black students. He promises to examine the Title I funds to ensure they are distributed correctly.

“What is your stance on the common core curriculum?” Fowler asked.

Flucas replied, “The common core curriculum will help students compete on a global level. It has its problems, but it will make us more competitive.”

Nelson agreed with Flucas' statement, but added that the problem is a demographic problem because the students in the middle will tend to become one of the 47 percent who drop out of school.

Finally, the AAUW thanked the candidates, and the audience for participating, and coming to the event.

Text Only
Local News
  • 140724-LAT1.jpg Little Actors Theatre ready for summer show

    Since 2004, the Little Actors Theatre has provided a place for children ages 6 to 19 to express themselves through acting.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414-MichelleNunn003.jpeg Michelle Nunn visits Valdosta

    The day after learning that her Republican challenger would be David Perdue, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn kicked off her Common Sense and Collaboration Tour Wednesday by meeting with business owners in Atlanta, Athens and Macon and continued her tour Thursday morning by visiting the David S. Waller Unit facility of the Boys and Girls Club of Valdosta.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • lunch.jpg Valdosta One Lunch feeds summer-hungry kids

    Hunger is a concept that many people associate with third-world countries, not their hometown. However, in Valdosta, hunger is real. To combat this hunger, a group of Valdostans have created Valdosta One Lunch, a program that distributes bagged meals to children in need.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up.jpeg Moody squadron commander reaches milestone

    The 75th Fighter Squadron commander hit a career milestone July 17, by surpassing 3,000 flight hours in an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • water.jpg New equipment expected to deal with Lowndes water violations

    The Lowndes County Commission’s recent approval of $1.6 million for water-treatment equipment is expected to counter a past series of water-quality violations within the county.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes increases millage rate

    For the first time since 1999, the Lowndes County Commission voted Wednesday to increase the millage rate.

    July 24, 2014

  • dui memorial 1.jpg Memorial honors woman killed in DUI case

    More than a week after the man responsible for her death was sentenced to five years in jail, a memorial sign has been placed at the site where Sheila Foster-Lamb was hit and killed by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results