In Tyrone, three candidates qualified to run for Town Council Post 2: Billy Campbell, Michael Edwards and Melissa Hill. The Post 2 seat is open since incumbent Ryan Housley chose not to run for another term.
Below are the questions and the responding candidates’ answers:
Tyrone Town Council Post 2
1. Introduce yourself to our readers: Who are you, how old are you, what is your current job, what kinds of jobs have you done, how long have you been in Tyrone and why are you running for public office this year?
WILLIAM “BILLY” CAMPBELL — I have been married for 39 years to my wife Michele and we have been residents of Tyrone for the last ten years. July of 2014 until July of 2018, I was the Public Works Director here in Tyrone.
During that time, we reorganized the department, became more efficient and created a wider range of services that we were able to offer the citizens of this town.
Prior to working for the town of Tyrone, I spent 37 years working in the scrap metal recycling industry. Most of that time was spent in the position of general manager at various scrap recycling locations.
Along with my regular job functions, I was able to designed and oversee the construction of new scrap recycling facilities in Brooklyn, NY, Raritan, NJ, Secaucus, NJ and Bakersfield, CA. This work meant that I was responsible for designing the facilities, obtaining all of the construction permits and environmental approvals for each of these projects. City planning boards, inspectors and the DEP were daily obstacles.
In 2007, I was sent to California to be the project manager of a cable mining operation for one of our company’s national accounts (Verizon). Our crews worked from San Diego, CA all the way north through the state of Washington. We removed over seven million feet of obsolete trunk cable without one single service interruption or outage. Hiring the engineering firm, technicians, obtaining permits and approvals from California DOT were all my responsibility.
Organization and management of people has always been a passion for me during my 40 plus years of working. At 66 years of age I still look forward to going to work, getting my hands dirty, talking with people and doing whatever it takes to get the job done right.
Running for a seat on Tyrone’s Town Council has been a goal for me, even before I retired from my position with the town. Recently I was told that you do not get elected on your resumé. Unfortunately that is a sad, but true statement in today’s political world.
My time working for Tyrone has given me a thorough knowledge of this town and its citizens. I made it my business to serve the people of Tyrone even when it was not in the parameters of my job description. The mayor, council members and the employees are here to serve each and every citizen and help them if at all possible.
I would like to have our administration do more for the people of this community and the businesses that are in our town. Promoting and supporting our local businesses, creating more recreational areas and equipment within our town and increasing the services that our public works department can offer are examples of what I believe needs to done.
MICHAEL C. EDWARDS — My name is Michael C. Edwards. I am 44 years old. I have been married to my wife, Kimberly, for 20 years. Currently I am an associate Pastor at Bethel Atlanta, Army veteran, where I served 10 years as a medical specialist and Iraq war vet.
Upon leaving the military in 2003, I became an education manager with Junior Achievement of Georgia. From there I moved into the mortgage industry, followed by becoming a full-time minister for 9 years, while also being a Realtor.
Lastly, I work with Fellowship of Christian Athletes as an ambassador to Sandy Creek and Flat Rock Middle. I have lived in Tyrone since July of 2018.
Prior to living here, I lived in Newnan for 4 years, whilst working in Tyrone, with my church being here for most of that period.
I had the first-hand opportunity to see how development combined with preserving key structures could have a positive impact on an area.
I was presented with the opportunity to run by some people in my life whom I trusted, and I made the decision to run and be on the leading edge of a beautiful new season in Tyrone that could appeal to young, responsible citizens, as well as make those that have been here for a while, happy about what we can accomplish.
MELISSA HILL — My name is Melissa Hill. I was born in 1959 in Miami, Fla., and graduated from Florida State University. I transferred to Georgia in 1998 with Delta Air Lines, and settled in Tyrone.
I have two girls. Savannah, 19, went through Tyrone Elementary, Flat Rock Middle and Sandy Creek High School and is currently attending Lipscomb University in Nashville. Sarah, 16, also went through the local schools and is currently enrolled at Sandy Creek High School. She is in the marching band and taking dual enrollment film classes at the COI in Fayetteville.
During the 22 years that I have lived here, I have been very involved in our community, and as a proud mom I have consistently served as a volunteer in our schools. Whether being a band parent, chaperoning field trips, or attending many Board of Education meetings, I’ve tried to support our outstanding school system, teachers and students.
I am currently a real estate agent. To supplement my real estate income, I have taken advantage of the booming film industry and worked in the background of TV and movies.
In early 2018, I began working part time for the Fayette County Development Authority as the Fayette County Film Locations Coordinator. My job is to assist productions with locations, permitting, and miscellaneous requests, and to bring these productions to Fayette County.
2. How many Town Council meetings have you attended or viewed?
CAMPBELL — I have been attending just about every town council meeting over the last year.
EDWARDS — I have been to 4 meetings to date.
HILL — Over the years, I have attended many Town Hall meetings, too many to count. I have always been interested in how I can give back to the community. Tyrone is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It is safe and financially healthy, important assets we must maintain.
3. What’s your top agenda item? What will you do about that?
CAMPBELL — The lack of citizen involvement is a concern for me. For too long the residents of this town have shown little or no interest in what happens in our town. When asked why, the general response is, “Why bother, no one listens to what we have to say.”
Unless there is a hot topic that affects a group of people, no one comes to the town meetings except for maybe four or five of us. Those that attend know that the format of the meeting offers the citizens two opportunities during that meeting to speak openly about different topics, but as usual, no one is there to voice their opinions or thoughts.
I believe that there has to be more communication from town hall to our residents. An electronic message board needs to be installed with the building of the new town hall.
There could possibly be an email blast to our citizens from town hall alerting them of special meetings, votes, events or items that affect our town.
Every HOA meeting in this town should have two representatives of the town in attendance. This could be the mayor, council members, police chief and/or the town manager.
This gives the residents and the HOA officers an opportunity to ask questions directly to the town’s decision makers. Those decision makers can then hear the concerns of their constituents and give explanations as to the plans that the town may have.
EDWARDS — My top agenda item is smart growth. The desire of the live, work, play, for Fayette County should include “stay.” Meaning that, I (as in the average citizen) want to stay here even after I graduate school, or start working. That there are enough jobs, housing, and ways of transportation that I don’t have to go to another city to partake in any of these.
Tyrone has a comprehensive plan that has many of these initiatives laid out. In our nation’s ideal of democracy, we listen to the voices of the people while keeping in mind that we must benefit all, thinking about the next generation coming up behind us.
My role is to help to guide that process along with my fellow councilmen and the mayor to make sure that Tyrone grows the right way.
HILL — My top agenda item will be to make sure Tyrone has responsible development. I would love to try and recruit some more small shops and restaurants to be added to the downtown Tyrone area, to go along with our new Tyrone Town Hall at Shamrock Park.
4. What two other issues in Tyrone concern you the most? Please be specific about how you would approach those issues.
CAMPBELL — The first of the two other items that concern me the most is the development of Sandy Creek Corners. In principle, this could be very promising for our town, but in reality, it could be just a pretty picture.
The public was presented an artist’s rendition of one person’s thoughts on what the first stage of this project could possibly look like. There are no guarantees that any of that will ever come to fruition.
If I heard correctly, there are no signed contracts or letters of intent from businesses that have any interest in building there. We were told that there are litigations that will determine if the TV or movie industry on that property will ever take place. There are no time frames for the start of any development or when it will be completed.
At the very least, there should have been a clause stipulated for the owners of the property as to when stages of the construction is to start or completed. If those stipulations are not met, then the zoning of the property reverts back to what it was.
The second issue is where are we going with our current comp plan and creating some sort of realistic downtown area for our citizens to gravitate to and to support our current businesses?
I would tear down that old firehouse immediately, pave it and use it as a temporary parking lot. This will assist with parking for the two restaurants located next door. The area can also be used to park those attending court and can be utilized for events being held at Shamrock Park.
Once the new municipal building is completed and the police department is settled in their new home, decisions can be made about creating space for more businesses to move in that area. Businesses that can attract visitors and residents to that area, especially when there are activities at Shamrock Park.
EDWARDS — As the town experiences growth, two issues must be addressed: One is making sure that key open space areas, farmland, and historic structures are preserved. This is done by linking arms with the architects and contractors, and going line by line on what is important to Tyrone to preserve. Buildouts only take place after this.
Number 2 is that proper policing of the community is necessary. Just because the town grows, it does not have to see its quality of life and safety diminished. This is done by bolstering the police force, encouraging communities to increase the policing of their areas, such as neighborhood watch, and lastly ensuring enough signalization is established to ensure proper traffic flow.
HILL — My two main concerns are with our schools and what is happening with our property values because of these schools. I would like to see Tyrone Elementary open again as soon as possible. Once this happens, I would like to be included in any redistricting decisions that the school board will be making.
5. What is your vision for the future of Tyrone?
CAMPBELL — Tyrone is a place that reflects the past, but has promise for the future. Somewhere in that statement, town officials must create an environment that will attract some younger blood into our town, but yet not lose the quietness that our community enjoys.
There needs to be balance of appreciation of us baby boomers and allowing our millennial families to grow and thrive without creating overcrowding around town and heavy traffic.
Like it or not, our little town is getting more diverse each year. Tyrone must harness the energy from the young and wisdom from those that are not so young to create some symmetry between the two.
Tyrone is NOT the happiest town in Georgia at this time, but if we all work together, Tyrone can be a place where we all can be happy.
EDWARDS — Tyrone is the best kept secret in all of metro Atlanta, in my opinion. However, I would love to see this town maintain its small town, Southern charm, while also being a place that subsequent generations would love to live, work, play, and STAY, because business is steady, homes are maintained with great value.
And because of the enhanced infrastructure, people will want to enhance the town even more while maintaining the principles of what has been laid before of how to grow, properly.
In the end, I no longer want Tyrone to be the best kept secret. I want the right people to be attracted to it and call it “home” for years and years to come.
HILL — My vision for Tyrone is to have an enhanced downtown area while keeping the rural small town feel. I believe we need to attract more small businesses and provide support to our current business community. I would love to see more pedestrian friendly areas and cart paths, especially one that accesses the high school complex.
I would also like to see more film production here, as that is a big revenue stream and brings some excitement as well! With that said, I feel we should continue to focus on how development will affect our traffic, our schools and our way of life. I am running for Tyrone Town Council because I love Tyrone and care about our community’s future.