With the May 22 primary around the corner, candidates for the District 3 seat on the Fayette County Commission were asked several questions about their candidacy. In the running for the seat are former Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix, retired colonel and aerospace manager Edward “Edge” Gibbons and former Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker (L-R in photo above).
The District 3 seat came open when Commissioner Steve Brown declined to run for re-election.
With the intent of providing a wide range of potential for response, the candidates were to provide their top three issues pertaining to the commission. For the sake of brevity on what could be lengthy responses, candidates were asked to keep those comments to 100 words per issue. The candidates were also asked to comment on what each, if elected, would bring to the commission.
Haddix said his top three issues are:
• “Economic development – Good paying jobs increase working age families living here, school population, retail profit and tax revenue. Also reduces commuter traffic and tax increases. People do not want to commute long distances, by car or transit. Homes and retail will result as needed, not because a developer wants to build.”
• “Traffic safety and congestion – We do not need roundabouts in every intersection at $1,000,000 apiece when stop signs work. We need to avoid adding roads that benefit developers and add congestion.”
• “Transparency – Existing open records and meetings laws plus common sense is enough. Seeing too much gagging of legal information.”
Haddix served as a Peachtree City councilman and mayor, on the county board of health member (not under the commission) and state annexation arbitrator since 2009.
Gibbons said his three top issues are:
• “It is critical that we think strategically about our future. What kind of county do we intend for our children and grandchildren to live in 50 years from now? We face the challenge of being just south of Atlanta, the economic engine for the entire state. This proximity brings both opportunities as well as causes for concern, but it cannot be ignored. Taking advantage of this situation requires long-term solutions that acknowledge change is inevitable. How we manage that coming change, and the time frames we envisage as we do so, are important elements we must embrace.”
• “We must pursue economic development balanced against quality of life. Inviting industries that bring low-footprint and high return-on-investment business to the area (e.g. aerospace, technology, innovative energy solutions, etc.) is vital to provide Fayette’s citizens with services that are second to none while keeping taxes down. The Fayette County Development Authority works vigorously to attract these types of businesses to our community and it is in our best interest to work lock-step with them. Only intelligent and proactive thinking and planning will promote the environment necessary to grow without sacrificing our great quality of life.”
• “Our county and municipal governments must work together as a team. If we are to think and plan strategically, then we must ensure that we can resolve difficult, contentious issues – whether between the county and a city or between members of the commission – in such a way that our citizens perceive their elected officials working together in their best interests. One measure that industries use in choosing to relocate is how effectively and efficiently local governments function. Promoting a spirit of teamwork and mutual respect for the opinions of others is the first step in providing good government.”
In terms of his background and what he would bring to the commission, Gibbons said:
“I offer an extensive background in leadership, management, and decision-making based on a 27-year career in the U.S. Military, from which I retired as a full colonel, and most recently in business where I currently work as a leader/manager for a major defense corporation (Raytheon). Gibbons has been a resident of Peachtree City since 2008.
Imker essentially stated that his top three priorities for Fayette County are “the budget, the budget, the budget. That turned into a successful election for me in 2009 (in Peachtree City) and reelection in 2011 because I was true to my word.”
Imker noted how he worked with the city’s finance department, including during the Great Recession, to come to grips with multiple needs.
“The city finance director and I had almost a direct hotline with each other as I focused on budgetary items like a hawk. No other council member in the history of Peachtree City can say the same. I have already started this process with the county’s financial director,” Imker said.
Imker said passage of the SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) last year, “which I whole heartedly supported and campaigned for, has given Peachtree City the shot in the arm so desperately needed to finally get our roads and cart path maintenance program back in at least a resemblance of progress.”
Imker also noted that lower taxes in some Atlanta areas has resulted in increasing industrial growth.
“Alpharetta and Roswell have a much lower tax rate and are experiencing unprecedented industrial growth while we languish away with our high taxes. It’s not that hard to understand. Lower taxes will bring industrial growth and the corresponding tax base we so desperately need instead of relying on high property taxes,” he said.
Another issue dealt with working with the Ga. Department of Transportation (DOT) and local communities in the immediate region, including Peachtree City, Coweta County, Fayetteville and Tyrone to “develop a transportation plan that creates a successful cross-county traffic flow that gets people where they want to go without having umpteen stop lights within a one-mile stretch of road like has been created in Peachtree City with Ga. Highway 54 at Ga. Highway 74.”
Commenting on what he brings to Fayette County as a commissioner, Imker said it is “a clear statement that Fayette is industry friendly, where taxes are low, where transportation is not a roadblock but a favorable attribute and where quality employees abound for those businesses and industry prepared to invest in our county. The quality of life in Fayette County can and will become the envy of other counties in Georgia.”
Imker served with the U.S. Air Force, in the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and worked as a program manager for the Strategic Defense Initiative program.