Meet the candidates

Posted

Each week, we will be interviewing candidates for the upcoming election in November. This week’s feature includes candidates running for the office of Swainsboro mayor, Shayna Boston and Charles Schwabe, incumbent. Greg Bennett was scheduled for an interview on Monday, August 23. However, he did not come for the interview.
Shayna Boston
Candidacy
Mayor – Swainsboro
Q: Are you a native of Emanuel County? If so, what city did you grow up in?
A: Yes, Swainsboro.
Q: You have qualified to run as mayor. A requirement is that you live in Swainsboro. Do you live in Swainsboro?
A: Yes, I am a resident of Swainsboro.
Q: Have you ever served in a public office before?
A: No, this is my first time seeking a public chair.
Q: What do you think would be the most difficult part of being mayor?
A: Getting everyone to agree. Getting people to be on board in one accord and have a humble mentality, all while working towards a better future for the City of Swainsboro.
Q: Do you think it’s fair that people in Swainsboro have to pay county taxes as well as city taxes?
A: No I don’t. My dream is to expand the city limits and when we do that, that’s where industries and investors will do more business with us because there are people to spend the dollar.
Q: Are you aware that there are over 250 jobs that are unfilled in Swainsboro today?
A: Yes, I am aware of this. My first thought is has there been a conversation held between the local businesses and the city of Swainsboro as to some sort of strategy to offer incentives.
Again, it all starts with conversation and communication. We have to work together.
We have to think outside of the box.
It would be best for me if I found out what the needs were. And then, we create a plan to strategically go out and help them get these jobs filled.
Also, Swainsboro is job-motivated. Yes, we need to get those jobs filled but we also have to be motivated in creative leadership positions.
There’s a conversation that needs to be had. They need to feel like the city and county are invested in helping them, do everything possible, to get these jobs filled because we need them to stay here.
We have to keep our legacy and our people in our forefront. We can’t just treat the businesses like businesses, they’re family. You have to meet the people where they are. We’ve got to do more.
Q: It’s been said that the city could save money by not hiring outside companies for water and sewer operations. Do you have any data or factual information to prove that?
A: I don’t know because I don’t know what the numbers are. Being that I don’t know, I would hate to make a comment on that without knowing what those numbers.
The bidding processes isn’t processed as it should be. We’ve got to be better at informing our city.
Q The city recently hired a code enforcement officer to handle the problem of abandoned cars and houses. What more do you think can be done when property owners won’t clean up themselves?
A: Again, communication, transparency and accountability. Residents should informed of the situation and consequences. The city should also offer resolutions and options on how to resolve issues, whether it be selling or putting old property to good use. Residents should be given a period of time to respond, and if the issue isn’t addressed after these efforts are made, then property owners should be forced to tear down or remove property or allow the city to perform the task instead.

Name
Charles Schwabe, incumbent mayor for city of Swainsboro
Candidacy
Mayor – Swainsboro
Q: Have you ever served in public office before?
A: Yes I have served as Mayor for 4 terms.
Q: What do think is the most difficult part of being Mayor?
A: The most difficult part is bringing people with different ideas and different objectives together to do what is best for the City. Many times people with their own agendas have trouble compromising and seeing the larger picture.
Q: How do you see your business experience helping you serve as Mayor?
A: Naturally, it has given me years of dealing with the public and understanding the importance of just listening to other folks. Also, it gives you a clear idea of how to get things done. But, let me be clear, running your own business and running a governmental system are not anywhere near the same thing. You can’t just give orders to other elected officials like you might to your employees.
Q: Do you think it’s fair that people in Swainsboro have to pay county taxes as well as city?
A: I understand that’s the way the system works, but I think it’s time for the legislation to be re-worked so that a more realistic and fairer equation is enacted to lessen the burden on city residents.
Q: How would you go about attracting more industry and retail to Swainsboro?
A: Industrial recruitment is one of the toughest things any city faces. But it is essential and it is expensive. I served on the Joint Development Authority for 23 years. During that time, we recruited more than 12 major industries that brought over 800 jobs to Emanuel County. It is tough work, and you have to grind it out every day to be successful, and there are no magic solutions. You do the marketing, the personal contact, traveling thousands of miles knocking on doors. Then, you work on preparing your area in terms of infrastructure, education, medical capability and all the other things that prospective employers look at. We have been successful in the past, and I think you just constantly refine your efforts and keep working.
As far as retail recruitment, the City Of Swainsboro has always provided incentives and other forms of support to encourage private enterprise and to assist with both new businesses and those already established. Many of the businesses that have opened in Swainsboro in the last several years are here because of the City’s help. I am very honored that I have been able to be involved with the City’s growth this way.
Q: Are you aware that there are over 250 jobs that are unfilled in Swainsboro today?
A: Actually, I think there are more than that. If we can’t fill the jobs that are available here now, the jobs will go away. A growing economy has to have a prepared labor pool. The Covid virus has created a real problem with that. If we are to get back to normal, we have got to get folks back to work.
Q: Could the City save money by not hiring outside companies for water and sewer operations? Do you have data or factual information to prove that?
A: As Mayor, I personally have compiled the information on this issue. In multiple comparisons, the hard facts and real studies show that there would be little to no savings for the City to hire, completely staff, and equip our own water and wastewater department. In some cases, the studies clearly showed that it would cost more to take the water/sewer back under City management.
Q: The City recently hired a code enforcement officer to handle the problem of abandoned cars and houses. What more do you think can be done when property owners won’t clean up themselves?
A: The new program of code enforcement has been a significant help with this problem. As with any enforcement, some folks have not liked it. It’s pretty simple, if this is what the citizens want, then it has to be supported and paid for. The outward appearance of our town is a huge factor in how we feel and how others who travel through see our town. I intend to continue the program and expand the enforcement, especially on derelict houses.
Q: You have qualified to run as Mayor. A requirement is that you live in Swainsboro. Do you live in Swainsboro?
A: I have lived in Swainsboro my entire life. My address is 511 Kite Road. No questions, no excuses. I have gone to school, worked, run a business, paid taxes and raised a family right here in Swainsboro.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here