Sandy McGrew, Bob Reilly and Clint Weatherby are squaring off in the Nov. 5 election to replace retiring Councilman Bob Rush. Although the candidates are running to represent Ward 1, the election in Canton is at-large and all voters will choose one candidate for each ward.
McGrew said Thursday that it’s her “firm understanding” of the issues important in the city and her fiscally conservative nature which she hopes will convince the voters she’ll be a solid addition to the city council.
“I have been attending city council meetings consistently for over a year and I’ve spoken at some of these meetings,” said McGrew, 61, a retired school employee. “I am confident in my ability to see all sides of an issue and being able to make the best decision for Canton and its citizens.”
She said she’s also volunteered at many events in Canton and serves as president of the Board of Directors of the Cherokee Arts Council.
“You see me all over town, by attending events and supporting local businesses,” McGrew said. “I support our city of Canton.”
For Reilly, 51, a sales manager, it’s his business experience he believes makes him the best for the job.
“As far as business acumen, I ran a sales agency with 100 employees and revenues over $20 million. I was responsible for the profit and loss and bringing in more businesses into my group,” said Reilly, who previously served on the Cherokee County Zoning Board of Appeals for two years. “The council needs to win back the confidence of the residents, and I believe the more business experience that is elected the quicker that confidence will be won.”
Like McGrew, Reilly said he’s been a volunteer by teaching Sunday school, raising money for Bibles for needy children and participating in Must Ministries’ lunch program.
Weatherby owns an insurance company and is also hedging his bets partly on his business background.
“I am a proven business owner and dedicated to success,” he said. “Canton should be run with strong fiscal responsibility and transparency to its citizens.”
Weatherby said he also believes his slightly younger age, 38, gives him a fresher perspective on the city’s future, and his status as a life-long Canton area resident gives him even more perspective.
One issue of particular interest to Ward 1 is whether or not a fire station can be built in the Laurel Canyon area.
McGrew said the city should work to build one there.
“Laurel Canyon was promised a fire station and the growth and population density in that area of Canton supports this promise,” she said. “The city needs to evaluate all of the options and come to a timely decision.”
McGrew said that decision could involve Canton partnering with Cherokee County to build the station or the city or county going it alone, but the call “can only be made after analyzing all of the data.”
Weatherby said he didn’t have all the information needed to address whether or not Laurel Canyon needed a fire station or how the city should go about accomplishing that.
“I am willing to look at proposals and numbers from both the city and county to determine the best and most cost-effective method for placing a new fire station in Laurel Canyon, if needed,” Weatherby said.
Reilly said he didn’t see Laurel Canyon getting a fire station for at least several years.
“The quick answer is if the land is buildable then, yes, I would like to see a fire station in Laurel Canyon,” he said. “With that said, I do not foresee this happing for at least four or five years.”
Reilly said Canton voters spoke loudly earlier this year when they voted down the fire bond referendum, which would have funded new fire stations through a tax increase.
“Unless that sentiment changes in the near future, I would listen to the citizens and not vote to fund it with tax increases,” he said. “Until then, we need to continue to partner with Cherokee County.”
In all areas of Canton, development and how the city can encourage new business while keeping its small town nature intact is an issue.
Weatherby said the city needs growth.
“Without growth we become stagnant,” he said. “Canton needs sustainable growth. If we grow too fast, we will have infrastructure costs and issues. If we do not grow at all, we will have finance and sustainability issues.”
For that growth, Weatherby said he would “love” to see Canton take the opportunity to redevelop areas that were previously vibrant but haven gone into a state of disrepair.
McGrew said Canton’s small town atmosphere can be protected by taking steps to control the rate of growth and ensuring that proper infrastructure is in place for new development.
“The city needs a strategic business and growth plan by which all decisions of the council should be measured,” she said. “This would factor in the rate of development and make sure the infrastructure is in place to support and foster development and growth.”
Reilly agrees that growth must be handled carefully.
“Canton is a very desirable place to live and raise a family,” he said. “Growth is going to happen and the only way I see to keep the small town nature is to adhere to the land use policy and ensure any development be required to build the infrastructure to completion and have insurance in case of default.”