Election season brings election questions, and this year The Citizen posed identical questions via email to the three candidates for Fayetteville City Council Post 4.
Candidates for the seat are Brett Nolan, businessman Rich Hoffman and Gha-is Bashir Paige.
1. What is your vision for both the council and the city?
Rich Hoffman — “My vision for the Fayetteville City Council and the city of Fayetteville is to make Fayetteville a premier city with green space, boutique shops, chef-owned restaurants, and places a family can come to with their children. I see more sidewalks, multi-use paths and connectivity to all parts of the city. I see a walkable downtown with activity day and night. I see a revitalized downtown with places to relax and enjoy the area. With my 40-plus years in business and residency within the city, I can help direct decisions to accomplish these goals while still maintaining our small town atmosphere.”
Brett Nolan — “I’m running for City Council because I want to be a part of taking Fayetteville from the great place that it already is and working to make it even better. A council with a shared vision and goals set by the community can accomplish amazing things.
“We have a newly adopted comprehensive plan that lays out a vision for Fayetteville created through citizen input. The Fayetteville that will result from that plan has a walkable downtown that draws visitors from across the region, improved traffic flow throughout the city, more options for post-secondary education, and more. With this plan we can begin attracting more young families to Fayetteville and ensure a vibrant future for generations to come. I am excited to be a part of making that plan a reality, and more than anything else this is what inspired me to run for City Council.
“As COO of a Fayetteville business I have experience managing budgets in the millions of dollars, a staff of 20-plus, and negotiating with the multi-national corporations that manufactures the products I sell. The consultative nature of my business interactions with both customers and suppliers will translate seamlessly into the transparent practices encouraged by our current council and staff.”
Gha-is Bashir Paige — “My vision for the Fayetteville City Council is to have a diverse group of individuals that responds to the needs of Fayetteville Citizens with emphasis on innovation, collaboration and community development. Also, the council should embrace participation by sharing the decision making process and make every effort to inspire shared visions by genuinely ensuring that others interests are at heart while maintaining an atmosphere of dialogue rather than a monologue. Each council member should make efforts to be aware of emerging developments in technology, demographics, economics, politics, arts, and other aspects of life. Council Members should individually and collectively be good listeners and create a positive and supportive atmosphere while treating everyone with respect.
“My vision for the city of Fayetteville is for the city to be a diverse, proud, safe and respectful place to call home. The city should be the envy of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Infrastructure must continue to be well maintained, and the school system must continue to be considered a great place to educate your children. Strong growth in social and economic development will encourage businesses to come, grow and stay and become part of the culture. Excellent public safety will be synonymous with living a good life in Fayetteville. Ideally, property should be affordable so everyone who lives here can maintain a good quality of life. Additionally, community development should excel coupled with positive shared visions amongst of the community.
2. What is your vision for improving life in Fayetteville?
Paige — “Making excellent public services available to Fayetteville residents should be a primary vision to continue to move the city forward. A strong balanced city budget must continue to be maintained. Also, business taxes should be at a level where business will want to set up shop here in Fayetteville. We must also invest in our youth by sponsoring mentor programs that will get youth interested and involved in local government and business creation.
“With busy working families it is my vison to have local activities for school age children and additional resources to encourage growth and development for our youth. A youth center to keep youth occupied with meaningful, educational, and recreational activities will be a great asset. This center will accommodate K-12 students who are latch key children; those needing help with homework; those needing mentoring, and help develop good health habits. The philosophy of the center will be to develop good morals, good citizenship, and to assist families in multiple ways. This way our city will continued to have good visionaries.“
Nolan — “We need more leaders who listen to all citizens in Fayetteville. We have an incredible, diverse community, and our leadership must continue to embrace and foster that diversity. I will always listen and keep an open mind. No citizen should feel they are only welcome for the tax dollars they pay, and we can always do better to be more inclusive of all of our neighbors.
“Fayetteville must continue to focus on a conversational relationship between citizens and government as opposed to a transactional relationship. Citizens aren’t customers, and our government can’t be run like a retail shop. Sure, the city has to collect payment for services like garbage pick-up and water/sewer and those departments have a transactional component to how they must be run, but government as a whole can’t be successful when citizens are seen as dollar signs. Our current leadership gets this, and has done a fantastic job providing opportunities for citizens to communicate and participate in the city’s various projects and initiatives. Fayetteville needs to continue the trend of electing leaders who want to collaborate with citizens rather than lecture them.
“Fayetteville recently added an outstanding amenity with The Ridge. I support expanding from The Ridge with a network of multi-use trails throughout the city and county. Our biggest traffic problems are on roads controlled by GDOT – we need more options for moving around our city, but we need to avoid mass transit solutions that our desired level of density won’t support.”
Hoffman — “Improving life in Fayetteville will require tackling the traffic issue, bringing more boutique retail businesses to downtown, making sure we have a safe environment, and most important a revitalized Downtown Fayetteville. By actively recruiting high tech businesses, secondary colleges, trade schools, and ‘mom and pop’ businesses, we should be able to increase jobs in the city keeping more citizens from having to leave Fayetteville every day for work.”
3. What is your stand on the city’s future growth?
Paige — “I am a firm believer in the positive growth of a city. I think attracting diversity and economic growth is a good way to promote positive growth. As the city grows, the goodness of the city must be maintained by making the process of getting building permits and business licenses a user friendly and sensible process. The city planning department should be viewed as a shared vision stakeholder and not an adversary. More businesses and people are moving to Fayetteville because of what the city has to offer. As we grow, we will become an ever greater place to live, work and play.”
Hoffman — “Growth is here and what we need to do is embrace the growth and figure ways to manage it without destroying what we have now. We will have a demand for housing that the 25- to 45-year-olds will find attractive. The Apple Orchard is a good example of that type of development. We will need housing for our citizens wanting to downsize. We will need affordable housing. All of these can be accomplished within our current land use plan and within our zoning policies. My goal is to be open to all type of growth but to avoid letting this growth harm our current citizens and the fiber that we call home.”
Nolan — “Growth is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be oppressive. We know Pinewood and Pinewood Forrest will continue to grow exponentially on the west side of Fayetteville; managing that growth effectively without neglecting the rest of the city becomes a key task.
“The city has invested a lot of time, effort, and money on an economic development plan and the new comprehensive plan. Our citizens told us what they want, those plans were written based off of that input, and so we need to stick to the plan.
“We need to maintain a responsible ratio of apartments and single-family homes. There has been an influx of apartments over the past two years, and I believe no more land should be zoned for multi-family projects until we get back to a ratio of 80 percent single family detached homes and 20 percent apartments.
“Business for the sake of business isn’t a smart way to grow. We need unique, high-quality, boutique-style shops and restaurants, not more big-box retailers and fast food drive-thrus.
“A major project that I believe the city needs to address is a training facility for our Police Department. We are currently outsourcing training to Hampton – this is inefficient and costly. We need a city of Fayetteville Police Training Center. We need to immediately begin working towards making this a reality because, given the pace of growth we have in Fayetteville, we can’t continue to outsource training and expect our police to maintain the excellent performance we currently enjoy.”
4. What is the biggest issue facing the city in the next four years?
Nolan — “We are nearing a unique and monumental opportunity in both Fayette County and Fayetteville – our bicentennial celebrations. Fayette County was established in 1821, and Fayetteville was founded in 1822 and incorporated as a town in 1823. As the county seat of Fayette County, Fayetteville is in an incredible position to showcase our city as we celebrate our bicentennials. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a world-class event. The candidate elected to fill Post 4 will have a term that runs through the end of 2021. We need a leader for this post who can see the long-term planning and follow-through all the way from start to finish in celebration of this incredible milestone. I will turn 35 the Friday before Election Day. The ages of our current City Council members range from 57 to 79 with an average age of 69.2 years old. As we work to attract a younger generation to Fayetteville and make long-range plans for our future, I believe having a younger generation in leadership positions is a critical next step. Extensive life experience is a great asset on the council; now we need a younger perspective added to the mix, especially as we near such a major milestone. It’s time for a new generation of leadership for Fayetteville.”
Hoffman — “The biggest issue facing the city will be balancing the growth while maintaining the Fayetteville we have enjoyed for the past 30-plus years. We will be building a city that will see a new generation of citizens that have different expectations of what is important to their age group. Balancing that with the current housing, shops, and facilities available will take both time, planning and money. This council, as with the past councils, have been able to accomplish this goal, but I feel we will be facing new challenges with Pinewood Studios and the growth they are bringing. With the new 20-year comprehensive land use plan and our updated zoning ordinances we should be up to the challenge.
If elected, I will bring knowledge and experience gathered over 40-plus years in this community. Neither of my opponents can bring this to the table.”
Paige — “I think the biggest issue will be adjusting adequately to the growth of the city. Making sure the infrastructure will accommodate the likelihood of increased traffic, as well as maintaining good air quality. Additionally, ensuring that housing remains affordable and communities remain safe.”