Fayetteville Post 1 candidates forum: Little debate, lots of agreement

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Candidates participating in the Oct. 7 forum for the Post 1 seat on the Fayetteville City Council included, from left, challenger Darryl Langford and incumbent Harlan Shirley. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Candidates participating in the Oct. 7 forum for the Post 1 seat on the Fayetteville City Council included, from left, challenger Darryl Langford and incumbent Harlan Shirley. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Candidates for the Post 1 seat on the Fayetteville City Council faced off at an Oct. 7 forum at the Fayette County Library in Fayetteville. Candidates for the Post 1 council seat participating at the forum included incumbent Harlan Shirley and Darryl Langford. The city race officially carries no political party labels.

Though he qualified for the Post 1 seat, Philip Onyedumekwu did not attend the forum and did not respond to a request by The Citizen for information.

One of the questions posed to candidates dealt with aspects of the 500 apartments recently approved around the downtown area. The candidates were asked if 500 apartments were sufficient and how traffic in the area could be mitigated.

Langford said the number of approved apartments was enough, adding that items such as a traffic study could help determine what would be necessary to mitigate traffic.

Shirley in his response also said the current number of approved apartments is sufficient. As for traffic, Shirley said there is a need for a north-south roadway that does not come through the center of the city.

By way of background for the reader, the apartments are approved for downtown at Lanier Avenue and Ga. Highway 85, and at a location immediately south of the upcoming City Center Park. Those apartments, to the south, will also be near Grady Avenue and Beauregard Boulevard.

The candidates were also asked if they supported the reconstruction of the bridge over Whitewater Creek that would relink a divided Hood Road/Hood Avenue.

Shirley said, “Absolutely,” adding that it is critical to re-build the bridge at some point in time, preferably in the next four years.

Langford in his response said he, too, supports building the bridge.

Though not part of the question and by way of background, the bridge that connected Hood Avenue in the city and Hood Road in unincorporated Fayette reportedly collapsed in the late 1970s and was never rebuilt. Today, portions of Hood Road are in the city limits and are included in the 1,200 acres annexed into Fayetteville several years ago. The idea of rebuilding the bridge is an ongoing topic of conversation.

Addressing the overall impact of the future of Fayetteville, the candidates were asked what “moving Fayetteville forward” means.

Shirley responded, saying it means bringing in productive jobs that will move the city and county forward.

Langford in his response said moving Fayetteville forward involves economic development, increasing jobs and the tax base and having every age group demographic be successful, including young professionals.

On the topic of traffic, the Post 1 candidates were asked how much control the city has over roads.

Langford responded first, saying, “The budget dictates what we do with roads,” and noting that increased revenue equates to the ability to increase the amount for money used for roadwork.

Shirley in his comments said the city includes $400,000 in the budget each year for roadwork. He, too, said an increase in the tax base would increase the amount that could be spent on roads.

Langford in an earlier response to The Citizen on why he is running for the Post 1 seat said, “To move Fayetteville forward as a thriving city with the emphasis of retaining our young population; to return Fayetteville to within the top five cities of Georgia with the lowest crime rate; to improve our tax base by supporting recruitment of tech business to Fayetteville, therefore also improving employment of our citizens; and to improve our downtown structure to be conducive to attracting our citizens for a thriving, cultural downtown Fayetteville.”

Shirley in noting why he is running for re-election told The Citizen, “I feel I am capable of continuing for four more years and have decided to run for another four-year term. I have been a part of our city for the last four years and many changes and advancements have happened during my term as councilman. As a result, I am asking for your vote on Election Day November 5 of this year.”