City council candidates at the forum at Cagle’s Dairy Farm in Canton found a common thread in their two-minute speeches to the audience, calling for a more- effective government in the city.
Ward 1 candidate Sandy McGrew was the first to speak and said she wants to pull back the reins on the city’s spending and take Canton in a “different direction.”
“It is very important to me that we participate in conservative spending with our tax dollars. That’s first and foremost,” she said. “I want to give the citizens the best services, the best goods for the least amount of tax dollars.”
McGrew’s opponent, Bob Reilly, bashed the present council for its spending and went a step further and called for “no tax increases.”
“Over the past year, the City Council has tried to raise taxes over $7 million. In the last two weeks, $500,000 they’re asking us to pay for nine new firemen, and I’m not aware of any firemen we have vacancies for,” he said. “My head is spinning at all these requests for spending.”
McGrew and Reilly are running to replace Councilman Bob Rush, who has said he does not plan to run again.
In addition to advocating “civility” in Canton government, Ward 2 candidate Bill Grant said Canton doesn’t have to spend as much money as it does.
“I have a real passion for getting things done on time and on budget,” Grant said. “I’m a firm believer that Canton does need a very strategic general plan and to adopt that plan for all projects and services of the city. We need to ensure these products and services are at the best highest quality at the lowest-possible cost.”
Grant is the only announced candidate in the race to run for the seat being left vacant by Councilman Bill Bryan who says he does not plan to run again.
Ward 3 hopeful John Rust told the crowd that changes need to happen in the City Council, especially when it comes to listening to the people.
“You have to learn how to listen,” he said. “That’s one of the things I promise to do if you honor with me with being elected. I will listen to what the residents have to say and act accordingly.”
Rust’s opponent, Farris Yawn, said since moving to Canton 35 years ago, he’s fallen in love with the city, but room for improvement is always present.
“I see this city as a wonderful place to live and to work,” Yawn said. But “don’t think it can’t be better.”
Yawn said even though he owns a business in downtown Canton, he isn’t just out to make things better there, though downtown is important.
“The reason you have to care about downtown is because it’s the heart of the city,” Yawn said. “If you don’t have a good heart, you don’t have a good city.”
Yawn and Rust are vying for Councilman John Beresford’s seat. Beresford has not said publicly if he plans to run again.
Two candidates running for Woodstock City Council were also in attendance at the forum and told residents they hoped to improve the city and help it recover from debt.
Ward III candidate Judy Davila, who sits on the Woodstock Planning Commission, said the debt is a “major concern” for her.
“It has increased in the past three years to over $47 million plus,” she said. “We need responsible spending of our money. I believe our kids should not inherit our debt.”
Davila is going for the Ward III seat held by Councilman Randy Brewer, who is planning to run for re-election.
Ward I candidate Warren Johnson said Woodstock is a beautiful city but has serious financial issues.
“Woodstock is a great place to live. We have a growing downtown, vibrant restaurants, community and even a good night life,” he said. “But some tough decisions have to be made. We’re going to have to make decisions that are going to build our reserve and are going to take care of our debt.”
Johnson said he was prepared to make those decisions.
To be elected to the council, Johnson will have to square off with sitting Councilman Bob Mueller, who announced in March that he plans to run again.